Marquee 50th Anniversary

Legendary venues reaches milestone

Few music venues earn the term “legendary” but the Marquee is certainly that. Originally a haven for jazz, located on London’s Oxford Street during the late 1950’s, it took a move to 90 Wardour Street in Soho and reopening as an R&B and rock club on 13 March 1964 to seal the Marquee’s place in music history. As the Melody Maker said at the time: “The Marquee is the home of good music”, hailing it as: “the most important venue in the history of pop music”. Too true! Almost every major act of the 60s, 70s and 80s cut their teeth at the venue. The mid-late 1960s alone included The Who, Jimi Hendrix Experience, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Yes. The list goes on….

2013 sees the return of the Marquee brand ahead of its 50th anniversary next year. As a flagship project, the publication of a Limited Edition Book will document the bands that played this legendary venue. Through the lenses of seven photographers, with portfolios spanning the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties, this books showcases the most stunning selection of both iconic and never before published images alongside the Marquee Club’s own archive of memorabilia and printed ephemera. Whilst a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, we also invite many of the best regarded rock journalists of the period to reflect on the significance of this most important venue. From Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, to Queen and David Bowie; and in later years, The Jam, Joy Division, The Cure, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Marillion, Talking Heads, The Police and even U2, the line up of artists featured is simply incomparable. Just 1000 copies of this stunning over-size book are to be printed, signed by legendary figures synonymous with the history of the Marquee Club. 150 of these will be packaged in a Super-Deluxe Limited Edition version that also features a signed original photographic print of one of the most important of all the images featured. A feature-length documentary on the history of the Marquee and its influence on popular music is also currently in production.

And there’s much more to come as celebrations continue throughout 2014! The new, official website will be the destination for all Marquee updates and will boast some fantastic new official, high quality Marquee merchandise celebrating the 50th anniversary.

It was at the Marquee the Rolling Stones gave their first ever performance in 1962. “Every band that was anybody, or became anybody, played there,” said Bill Wyman. Last year, when the Stones celebrated 50 years since their debut gig, the Rankin photograph that circumnavigated the world showed the band in front of a recreated club and instantly recognisable Marquee logo…. A residency at the Marquee was the most coveted gig in the UK for emerging artists. Quite literally, bands were signed straight out of the club by record companies, purely on the approval of the Marquee.

The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page played the club many times. When the group became the pre-Zeppelin New Yardbirds, manager Peter Grant recognised the Marquee’s importance to his new band and personally requested they play their first London gig there. As a thank you, Grant returned when the band became the all-conquering Led Zeppelin. Whilst still at school (and always at the front of the queue) Phil Collins saw The Yardbirds at his first Marquee gig. He returned many times and later as a musician with Genesis: “When we played there I felt we’d arrived. You played the Marquee, then you had a residency, then a few years down the line you played Madison Square Gardens!”

Harold Pendleton founded the Marquee and turned it into an internationally respected name, together with its associated festivals at Windsor, Richmond and Reading. His involvement and endorsement now is integral to this project; and it is from his personal archive that many of the forthcoming treasures have been taken: “The Marquee Club was of course, a huge part of my life but, more than that, it became part of live music itself. We were a proving ground for acts that went on to become as legendary as the venue itself. It was great fun, but the Marquee Club was always about amazing music.”

Whilst Pendleton and his Marquee Organisation ceased involvement with the club when it moved from Wardour Street in 1988 and later closed, the Marquee name and brand burns brighter than ever. The Marquee’s rich heritage and reputation as “the cradle of rock” is held in more esteem than any other venue in the world. We are proud to celebrate that.

For more information please contact Chris Hewlett on 0845 601 2833 or email

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