The ROXY Plaque Unveiling! Part l

The ROXY Plaque Unveiling was a truly momentous day! On Tuesday 25th April 2017, the Seven Dials Trust unveiled a People’s Plaque commemorating the Roxy Club on Neal Street, Covent Garden. This marked 40 years since the opening of the legendary London venue and many ROXY goers and Punk musicians gathered to help us celebrate the occasion! The day had begun early with a few press photo opportunities for our wonderful ‘Punk Ladeez’ unveilers and this was held in the gallery. As the organiser of the event I had invited Jordan (from legendary McLaren/Westwood shop ‘SEX’ and Punk icon), Gaye Black from the Adverts, Pauline Murray from Penetration and Tessa Pollitt of The Slits to come along to help do the honours and pull the chord, alongside (of course!) ROXY co-creator Andrew Czezowski and Susan Carrington. Myself and the Seven Dials Trust were delighted that everyone said an emphatic ‘YES!’ to coming along – a massive thank you to them all! So next on the agenda for the day were some interviews for the BBC held at the nearby Mercer Street Hotel, followed by a London Live interview for myself about the Fear & Loathing at the ROXY exhibition. This was eventful – as we went live, a local crack addict decided to circle us, giving a suitably Punk ‘V’ sign salute to the camera and the London Live audience watching at home. Very apt for the occasion! Unfortunately, this ended up being cut out but if you want to have a look at the interview I gave you can see it here: London Live: The ROXY Turns 40! Here are some great photos from the ROXY Plaque Unveiling ceremony, all expertly shot by Mr Gerard McNamara, who wonderfully captured the reliving of the ‘Spirit of ’77’ on the day!                                   And here he is! Stephen giving his all with his great Ode to the ROXY!         So what happened next…?! Part ll to follow: The ROXY Plaque celebration party and Fear & Loathing at the ROXY private view!        

Fear & Loathing at the ROXY – exhibition visitors!

The Fear & Loathing at the ROXY exhibition was properly open to the public on the 26th April, and ran until the 10th May.  And people came down to see it – in droves. This was a pleasurable time for me: to meet, greet and hear wonderful ROXY stories, generously shared by the lovely people who came along. So here you are! Welcome to a selection of exhibition visitors with a few great anecdotes….. So let’s start with Greg Rose, who came down with Dana and was equipped to share with the assembled company a selection of his club membership cards and old original ROXY flyers – all wonderful to see! Greg had worked in the industry with such luminaries as Metallica, AC/DC and Joni Mitchell and we all spent a pleasant hour or so chatting. Early on in the show I had the pleasure of meeting Bev Sage again from the Techno Twins, who had previously visited Regeneration City Blues at 55 Neal Street in 2015. This is what Bev committed to the comments book….. “I had a spitting match with Sid at RCA in 1977.” All good stuff! Here she is with the lovely Antonia de Bourbon-Watson…. Many people told me what an impact the ROXY had on their lives – the club played a pivotal role in terms of new friendships, relationships and opened up future career directions for some. Stuart Swift told me this – “I had one visit to the ROXY. Saw the Damned. Changed me forever!…” A few people also recognised themselves as audience members in photographs from the time… such as Dave Patten who is here (behind the woman with long hair) watching the wonderful Jordan with Adam & the Ants. Here she is performing ‘Lou’, which recounted a Lou Reed gig she went to and how pissed off she was by him being off his face… And then there was Jon Stobart who recognised himself in the bottom left foreground of an Adam & the Ants gig at the ROXY…. Another ROXY goer was the lovely Kerri who chose to be photographed by Mick Jones… Spike arrived one day and kindly wrote ‘Thank you Jane and crew for putting on this fantastic exhibition. This history has to be reserved and the stories told. Our history must never be forgotten.’ Paul Jones from Crawley came by and we compared stories of growing up there (fish-out-of-water, horrible place, cultural desert, New Town full of bigoted people and Sun readers, etc, and all this despite being 30 miles from Brighton and London… you can see how much I loved it). However, I suppose every cloud has a silver lining… it gave us Brian James and The Cure…. Sue and Kevin came along from Hackney… …and the lovely – and very dapper – Mr & Mrs Scenester 1964, Alex Baxter & Beth Youngs! Armin had a memory of the location of the ROXY Club…’It’s hard to remember how dark and spooky Neal Street was then – that’s what stands out for me.’ …and Ian and Yvonne Deacon wrote, ‘We love it! Nice to see Mick from the Models. I demand my management fees! – Ian Deacon ‘“The best of times and the worst of times” – Dickens, Walter Lure.’- Yvonne Deacon  Chris Dench went to the ROXY on a truly memorable night! ‘The Damned were playing and I saw that night John Bonham playing the drums drunk. Robert Plant signed my tube train tickets. Great memories!’ Then there was a visit one day from Youngie and Cherry and I was really delighted to meet them both. Youngie of course was a friend of John Lydon and is immortalised in a drawing by him on the upstairs wall of the back building of No.6 Denmark Street, where the Pistols lived and rehearsed in ’75/76…. He very kindly wrote, ‘Well done Jane! Walking over luvly old ground!’ Then there were the former roadies that came down to the show. Counting a few such people as close friends, I always find it fascinating to hear old ‘war stories’…. So step forward Woon, former crew member for X-Ray Spex! And Fran Taylor, who worked for Buzzcocks and The Slits. Fran actually identified all the people in the opening photographic work of the exhibition (see below). I thought these audience members were all Londoners but no, all 12 of them (crammed into a Transit van) came down from Manchester for a Buzzcocks gig…! This dates the night Derek (Ridgers) shot this to 2nd April 1977… So, left to right, the audience members are Paul Doyle, Ian Hodge, Adge (who went on to be in World of Twist), Vinnie (in the Jackson Pollock boiler suit) and Alan Dearer, crouching down. Paul Doyle is also immortalised with sunglasses in the photograph on the right below… and a young Paul Morley (author and broadcaster) can be seen on the background. This is taken by Derek at the same Buzzcocks gig. Dave Hill came along one day, early in the run of the exhibition. He was an ex-manager of Chrissie Hynde and worked with Johnny Thunders… And then there were visits from old band members from those bands who played the ROXY. Step forward Ms Kaye Godleman of Defiant! Kaye commented on the ROXY itself, ‘Everything but the sticky floor! Loved it then, live it now.’ It was a delight also to meet Mr & Mrs Damage, seen below… ‘Nuffin formed in ’76 and became a four piece. We played the ROXY on 3rd August 1977 and were filmed by Janet Street Porter for the ‘Year of Punk’ LWT documentary. In 2016 we reformed and are now back gigging! The 40th anniversary is on 27th July 2017.’ Ian Woodcock of Eater also dropped by. Here he is with fellow old band member Dee Generate. Other ROXY goers of old went to work in broadcasting – like Alberto Umbrage who came along with Hisano. Alberto broadcasts with Resonance FM and committed this to the comments book….  ‘Wonderful pix – well done JPG and Seven Dials Trust. Speedo emporium! How truly fitting – snug as you like.’ And here is Henry Scott-Irvine, broadcaster and who heads up the Save Denmark Street campaign. His Tales of Tin Pan Alley film is currently in production. The lovely Manon of Soho Radio came by a few times too… People really came from far and wide – from as far away as Auckland, New Zealand and Australia to the USA to Europe: Michael and Christina were from Munich, ‘What an amazing exhibition! We loved it. Seeing such awesome pictures of so many of our favourite musicians was an amazing experience.’ The lovely Bev Elliott came by a few times – she used to write for Sounds one of the old weekly music papers I used to read, now renamed Street Sounds. James Palmer (below left) is a photographer who worked for ID Magazine in the 1980s and who shot the album sleeve for Down By The Jetty by Dr Feelgood – uncredited too! Such a great shot! Here is James with Julian Bates who has worked in the music industry for many years… And here is the photographer, Dean Brannigan… Below is Esther Heyhoe, who shared a great memory too… ‘Great show! I was a kid when punk was happening but remember hanging out at Patti’s house whilst Wayne/Jayne County was visiting!’ Paul Wanless is from Middlesborough and followed the Ants years ago. Later he worked for Andrew & Susan at the Fridge in Brixton. Paul identified Brian Blessed lurking in the background of the Sid Vicious photograph by Jeremy Gibbs. ‘The prints are excellent and what a social record of the time – made my day!’ Here is Russell Warby of the William Morris Agency, who works with the Foo Fighters and Jack White amongst others….’Rolling down Neal Street and stopped to talk to Jane, shared memories of Punk’s inception, by virtue of which I’m here!’ I was delighted to see again Ritchie Franklin and meet Andy Moore. Ritchie is the publisher of First Third Books who have currently in production books on The Cure and Siouxsie & the Banshees. And lastly, may I present a few artists who came down. Firstly the legendary George Skeggs or SohoGeorge… And next the interestingly wonderful Richard Walker, who had some great tales to tell about the ROXY and Louise’s, the other early Punk club in London. He wrote, ‘Narrowly missed being hit by a bottle care of Sid Vicious. I was lucky!’ This was, then, the infamous and awful incident at the 100 Club. Richard told me his observations of Louise’s, who (Louise) sat on the till of the club all evening. It was an after hours drinking hole on Poland Street that began at 2am (!) – the club was taken over by Punks early on. At the end of the evening, Louise would come down to the middle of the floor and take a bow to the strains of ‘Every little Breeze Seems to Whisper Louise’ by Maurice Chevalier – which was played straight after ‘Anarchy in the UK’! Another visitor was the lovely Ray Gange who dropped by and kindly wrote in the comments book, ‘Great show, fab pics, fantastic space. Well done all concerned, especially Jane, Andrew and Susan…’ Finally…. I’m afraid I took no photo of Kevin Spiers (sorry Kevin but thanks for this story) who played the ROXY as the Tax Exiles. He wrote this down for us all and it’s wonderful! ‘I was at Caerphilly and saw the Sex Pistols, Clash and the Heartbreakers. At the Pistols gig, ‘the Pentecostalists were having a demo – whilst my mum was outside protesting, I had sneaked inside aged 14 and was watching the band…!’ Outside another gig at Caerphilly, there was yet another protest by the local Pentecostalist church. ‘The whole choir was singing outside and trying to stop us going in. The Reverend said to me not to go in. ‘Why?’ I replied. ‘One of the bands is called ‘The Damned’ he said…’   I was helped out in the gallery by a few people – a big thank you to David Bieda of the Seven Dials Trust and the lovely Summer, niece of Andrew and Susan. A big shout out too to the fabulous Nina Dallaway and my dear friend, Jessica Skippon for helping man the gallery during the Fear & Loathing run… here’s Jess below, sitting in front of the Seven Dials Trust People’s Plaque display from the exhibition…