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24 September 2014

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Marquee memories:
David Bowie signs autographs at the Marquee in October 1973
Bowie in full-on Ziggy mode signs autographs for fans during the taping of an American TV special at The Marquee in October '73 (with thanks to The Ziggy Stardust Companion)

Lord Crowley of Pop on the musical legacy of London's mighty Wardour Street...

audio This week's top tuneage in Choice Cuts

94.9 MUSIC:

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I've always had a thing about Wardour Street, me.

And last week, while waiting on a friend in a coffee shop on the corner of the aforementioned and Noel Street, it once again brought home to me its unique and special vibe.

"Soho has always provided a platform for the development of different musical genres. Fingers crossed, there's hopefully one being born if not right this minute, then soon..."

I would have first come here in the mid-70s on one of my regular teenage sorties into Soho from Lisson Grove, probably to buy a book or record.

In fact music has loomed large in the Wardour Street legend since the postwar boom in jazz clubs, although it was the 1960s that really saw it come into its own as an entertainment and music mecca.

Explosive performances

THE club of music clubs was undoubtedly The Marquee, which moved here from neighbouring Oxford Street at the beginning of 1964 with an opening night set from - wait for this! - Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds!

The Marquee - the view from outsideOver the years the club witnessed explosive performances from up-and-coming young meteors like The Who, David Bowie (see our main picture), Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd before the punks of the 70s like the Pistols, The Damned, Generation X and The Jam pogo-ed in and stamped their authority on it.

I can remember interviewing Gen X for my school punk fanzine at a soundcheck at the venue back in '77 - before being asked to leave by an unsympathetic bouncer for being under-age!

Then there was the highly secret, hot and sweaty performance from the mighty Jam (under the moniker of John's Boys), previewing tracks from their classic 1979 album 'Setting Sons'...oh those were the days!

Skidding and falling

The street has always boasted its fair share of night clubs too, from the wonderfully named La Discoteque, the Flamingo and the Whisky A Go Go (at the Leicester Square end of the street) in the 60s through to the St Moritz, Crackers and Vortex (going towards Oxford Street) in the 70s.

Wardour Street and where to find it!Two more of my favourite clubs from yesteryear would have to be The Wag, which was to be found at 33 - 37 Wardour Street. I must have skidded across their dancefloor countless times in the 80s and 90s, and can remember falling quite spectacularly while climbing the stairs!

The intimate Brain Club was another fave, which was to be found at 11 Wardour Street. It featured some top one-nighters and, if my fading memory serves me correctly, sold some rather wicked psychoactive drinks - including a Brain Punch. Not that it did much good for me then or now!

Soho over the years has always provided a platform for the development of different musical genres and - fingers crossed - there's hopefully one being born if not right this minute, then soon...

Ticket to ride: London's top Beatle haunts -
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audio My 94.9 Saturday radio show ON DEMAND -
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This way for my Album, Single and Gig of 2002 folks!more

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