Musical epicentre - a guide to 60s Soho
The Sixties saw an explosion of British music: Beatlemania swept the world, America was taken over by the British Invasion and London’s Soho was the centre of the international music scene. Oh how things have changed…Luckily many of the old Soho landmarks still remain, so if you are feeling nostalgic follow our guide to some of the most memorable locations of the Sixties music scene in London.
Originally a famous music hall, during the Sixties the London Palladium hosted TV show Sunday Night at the Palladium, which featured the best of British showbiz talent.
In October, 1963, the Beatles were the main act. 15 million people watched, making the Beatles a household name over night.
Mick Jagger and then girlfriend Marianne Faithful caused a media frenzy when they were called to the Marylebone Magistrates Court (now a hotel ) where they were fined for possession of cannabis.
Keith Richards received a £205 fine here in 1973 for possession of marijuana, heroin and mandrax, as well as a Smith and Wesson revolver and an antique shotgun, both held without a licence. Oscar Wilde also had the start of his ‘Queensbury’ case heard in the building.
The Swinging Sixties are unthinkable without Carnaby Street, the centre of fashion and style.
The April 1966 issue of Time Magazine wrote, “Perhaps nothing illustrates the new swinging London better than narrow, three-block-long Carnaby Street, which is crammed with a cluster of the ‘gear’ boutiques where the girls and boys buy each other clothing…”
In the Sixties the Bag O’Nails club at 8 Kingly Street in Soho was a meeting point for musicians as well as being a venue for concerts. Many popular musicians and bands played there, including Georgie Fame, and Jimi Hendrix.
It was here that John McVie (of Fleetwood Mac) proposed to Christine Perfect (also of Fleetwood Mac), and where Paul McCartney first set eyes upon upon his future wife Linda Eastman.
The Marquee club started life in Oxford St before moving to Wardour St in 1964 – where Rod Stewart and the Yardbirds took to the stage on the opening night. Other famous bands who played there include Led Zeppelin, The Who, King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Pink Floyd and David Bowie.
It was also where the Sex Pistols shot their promo film for their song ‘God Save the Queen’.
Between 1956 and 1967 the 2i’s Coffee Bar was in the basement at 59 Old Compton Street . The bar – today The Boulevard Bar & Dinign Room – was owned by Paul Lincoln, an Australian wrestler and wrestling promoter. Legend has it that its name derived from earlier owners, two brothers named Irani.
The coffee bar had live music and several stars were discovered or performed at the coffee bar, such as: Rory Blackwell, Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard, Hank Marvin, Screaming Lord Sutch and Tony Sheridan.
The jazz club where the Who gave their first public performance of their legendary rock opera Tommy in May 1969. A year later, in September 1970, it was the scene of Jimi Hendrix’s final public performance. It is still a legendary club today.