Friday, November 26, 2010

There’s good news, and there’s bad news …

On the good news front is the ever-increasing number of plaques and memorials commemorating rock landmarks that are appearing in London. However, counter-balancing this is the ever-existing threat of closure of other equally important sites, or worse, their possible destruction.

October was an exceptional month. Not only did Lennon finally get recognition (see my last post), but Beatles manager, Brian Epstein has his name attached to a wall. Interestingly, the site chosen was in Monmouth Street, on the edge of Covent Garden. While this was undoubtedly an important place in Brian’s career, with it being NEMS first London office, there are several other buildings that arguably deserved association with him. There’s Chapel Street for example, where he died. Or perhaps Sutherland House, another former office of Brian Epstein’s NEMS organisation, where John Lennon made his famous remark in 1966 that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus”. Presumably, it’s all determined who is willing to have a plaque on their frontage.

There aren’t many interiors that celebrate their rock heritage so the new room that the Clissold Arms in Muswell Hill has dedicate to its Kinks history is to be applauded. This pub, standing literally opposite the Davies brother’s Demark Terrace home, was the site of the first performance by the band that was later to find fame as the Kinks. The pub owners have turned their large front room into a virtual shrine for the band, decorating it with press cuttings, photos and album covers. Apparently, the last owners were given some original memorabilia by Ray but it disappeared when the pub changed hands. Unfortunately, and understandably, Ray is unlikely to be as generous with his own heritage again.

Now to the bad news… this year we have already lost the great Olympic Studios in Barnes now the 100 Club is under threat. If it was to go, it’s not only heritage we’d lose but one of London’s current great venues. Standing eponymously on Oxford Street, the 100 Club has seen everyone from the Stones and Who through the Sex Pistols and Clash to Oasis on stage. In fact, it was one of the original launch pads of punk, hosting an infamous festival here in 1976. A night out here is truly a trip down the time tunnel as you descend the stairs to a beer-soaked, sticky-carpeted basement. It needs your support if its not to close: It'll definitely have mine of December 17 for The Pretty Things, and probably again late in the month for Wilco Jonhson (ex Dr Feelgood). What a great way to end the year!

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