The doorway was just south of Shaftesbury Avenue on the west side of Wardour Street. Walk along the echoey hall, down the stairs to the basement. It was dark, and atmospheric.
A bar, a small dance floor and the stage straight ahead with -oddly – a few rows of seats in front. We’re down the ‘Mingo – The Flamingo, premier R&B and Soul gig in Soho, 1965.
Here, at both the evening Flamingo sessions and the midnight-to-dawn Allnighter Club, the top London-based Soul and R&B bands gigged.
Horned-up acts like the jazz-literate Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames (the most musicianly band who’d opened the Flamingo up for R&B acts in 1963), Herbie Goins and The Night-Timers, and Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band.
The Flamingo Club – which originally specialised in modern jazz – was opened by Rik and John Gunnell in 1959. The club quickly became popular with West Indians and black American soldiers that were still stationed in quite large numbers just outside London and who had few other places to socialise.
North of Shaftesbury Avenue on the opposite side of Wardour Street was The Marquee. By 1965, at these new premises, there was a harder pop edge to the R&B from The Who and The Small Faces. A younger, vibier crowd met here.
At the top of Wardour Street, on Oxford Street, The 100 Club is still open for gigs. Back then, it was jazz, blues and R&B.
On the south side of Oxford Street, a couple of blocks to the east, was Tiles. It was bigger and newer.
But far better was the Modtastic Scene Club in Ham Yard off Windmill Street – great sounds by a bloke by the name of Guy Stevens, smart threads nobody could really afford, and lots of pills . . .
|1. The 100 Club
2. Marquee (Oxford S)
3. Beat City (later Tiles)
4. Roaring 20s Top Ten Club
5. Marquee (Wardour St)
6. Ronnie Scott’s
7. Jack of Clubs
8. Round House pub
|9. The Scene Club
10. Piccadilly Jazz Club
11. The Flamingo
12. Studio 51
13. La Discotheque
14. The Ad Lib
15. Notre Dame Hall