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West End Extra - by TOM FOOT
Published: 22 February 2008
The Marquee Club,when it was located   in Wardour Street during the 1960s
The Marquee Club,when it was located
in Wardour Street during the 1960s
Fears for live music venues as legendary Marquee goes virtual

Sad times for the West End club where famous groups made their debuts

THE legendary club that launched the careers of the The Rolling Stones and The Who is “saying goodbye to bricks and mortar”, sparking fears of music lovers that it is the death knell for live music in the West End.
The Marquee Club, most recently in Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, has closed its doors.
The club has been a magnet for music fans since it opened in Oxford Street in 1958 and then most famously in Wardour Street from the early 1960s. But in recent years it has been dogged by problems that have led to a number of closures and reopenings at different locations.
The owner of the Marquee brand, Nathan Lowry, was contacted by the owners of its most recent venue, Shaftesbury plc, while on holiday, informing him of a seven-day demolition notice.
Mr Lowry could not be contacted but a promoter at the venue, Henry Scott-Irvine, said the news had come as a shock. “The closure came completely out of the blue last week and I was told the venue would close on Sunday after which it would be demolished,” he said. “It is a sad loss to the British music industry as its great heritage as the birthplace of rock music will now be lost forever.”
He felt live music was being purged from the West End.
He added: “I am very worried about what is going to be built here. There’s always been a history of live music in Soho and Covent Garden but we were just about the last venue standing. A lot of people are very upset at this. I worry that developers will move in and build flats and faceless shops.”
Music fan Scarlet Rose said: “It makes me sad that future generations won’t experience a venue that I enjoyed so much. It feels like our music heritage is being replaced by a commercial, money-making pop scene which the Marquee isn’t part of.”
The club was the location of the first live performance by the Rolling Stones in 1962 and at its Wardour Street site hosted a string of rock luminaries including Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols and Jimi Hendrix.
A statement on the official Marquee website said: “The club has decided to go virtual and will now instead hold gigs in various secret locations… we are saying goodbye to bricks and mortar.”
Mr Lowry bought the club brand from Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics after it ran into financial difficulties. Now in its sixth incarnation in the West End, the Marquee only moved to St Martin’s Lane six months ago.
A spokesperson for Shaftesbury plc said: “The lease was always very short on the building and that was known to the Marquee Club. We always had planning consent for the demolition which will start very soon. The whole area is going to be completely transformed with new shops, office space and around 30 flats. The development is due to be finished by the end of 2009.”
Scott Irvine says he will carry the torch for the Marquee by staging a night in honour of blues legend Cyril Davies at The Dome, Tufnell Park, on March 1. Go to www.wegottickets.com

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