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Published: 10 January 2008
Vince Power: the man behind many of London's most famous music venues
Vince Power: the man behind many of London's most famous music venues
Music and the foods he loves

Multi-millionaire Vince Power has turned his attentions to being a restaurateur after years of building a successful music promotions empire, writes Sara Newman

HIS life story reads like the archetypal rags-to-riches tale. Growing up in rural Ireland in the 1950s with 11 siblings, even pudding was a rare luxury for music magnate Vince Power who, with a fortune of more than £35 million, can now afford to eat out every day. Mostly he does not have to.
Since turning his hand from festivals and rock venues to restaurants and bars, he can often be found seated at the revamped Odette’s in Primrose Hill.
Famed for being the romancers’ choice with a price tag to match, the legendary neighbourhood restaurant was reaching the end of its career according to Vince, before he installed a celebrity chef in the kitchen and put star designer Shaun Clarkson to work on the décor.
His efforts have been met with rave reviews and plenty of celebrity endorsements, which bodes well for his latest projects, including The Bloomsbury Ballroom on Southampton Row.
Since turning his hand from festivals and rock venues to restaurants and bars, such lavishness is all in a day’s work.
Sitting in his office in West Hampstead, Vince is thinking of his next meal – lunch at his Italian trattoria Spiga on Wardour Street, and dinner at former porn cinema-turned 1950s-style music diner The Pigalle Club, where he has staged Marianne Faithful and Boy George.
At 16, Vince arrived in London armed with nothing but self-belief and a love for the folk music of Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash.
By the time he was 35 he had transformed a ­living flogging second-hand furniture into a business, which he used to fund his true passion – music.
Opening The Mean Fiddler, a country and western bar in Harlesden in 1982, he became known for showcasing new bands such as The Pogues and Billy Bragg and staging high-profile gigs for the likes of his childhood icon Johnny Cash.
Within 10 years Vince had acquired the Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury festivals and was running a plethora of spit-and-sawdust venues such as the Jazz Café, The Astoria and The Forum.
In 2005, he announced his retirement and sold up to rival promoter Denis Desmond, owner of Live Nation, and agreed to a covenant not to compete in the UK for three years.
In his 60th year, the softly spoken father of eight, who has married three times, is awaiting release from the contract. He is also awaiting publication of his biography by former Loaded magazine editor James Brown which, he says, “won’t be an exercise in name-dropping” but is more likely to describe the joys of accompanying his father, a forester, on fire-watch duty.
“You just sit there staring and listening to the birds and looking at the stars and waiting all day,” Vince says, rolling his eyes to the heavens. I don’t like the countryside.”
There was no room for fussy eaters at his mother’s table, which served up a diet of potatoes, bacon, bread, cheese and vegetables. Vince said: “We never questioned what we ate. We were very poor. We never said we didn’t like it and never didn’t finish.”
Surprising perhaps for a restaurant owner, he says he can barely make a piece of toast, his greatest cooking accomplishment to date being pasta and sauce for three of his children, Evie, 11, Niall, 13 and Nell, 16.
This leads one to imagine the fine dining associated with Odette’s is largely the responsibility of celebrity chef Bryn Williams.
Living in bachelordom in Primrose Hill while he awaits the completion of the building works to his new home in Brondesbury, Vince describes himself as “between relationships”, adding darkly: “I’ve not met my future ex yet.” And then drolly elaborating on the theme: “I’m always very hopeful.”
Modestly he suggests that he intends to end his life as he started – with nothing – and showing his knowledge of the borough picks out Arlington House for the ideal future residence.
So what’s next? Should Denis Des­mond watch his back? “He’s a friend now,” says Vince, twinkling, “but he could become a rival!”

• Odette’s, 130 Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill, NW1. 020 7586 8569

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