The Marquee: then and now
The Marquee Club has often been defined as the most important venue in the history of European pop music. It was one of the first live music venues for London's burgeoning rock scene, and many of the biggest acts in rock history held court on its tiny stage. Artists and bands like Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Cream, Pink Floyd, Manfred Mann, the Who, The Nice, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Genesis, Moody Blues, the Clash, Ultravox, the Pretenders, the Police, the Cure, Joy Division, and the Sex Pistols.
The Who on stage at The Marquee
On March 13th, 1964, the venue relocated from its original home on Oxford Street to 90 Wardour Street in London's Soho. And on Nov. 24, 1964, a London band called the Who became the regular Tuesday night attraction.
To publicize The Who's Tuesday night residency, one of the most famous posters in the history of rock was created, as seen here.
The Who's combination of high intensity American soul and a violent stage act made them the heroes of a new youth movement, called The Mods. The Mods drove scooters, and dressed in narrow ties and slim suits like their American soul & R&B heroes. And they flocked to the Marquee on Tuesday nights to dance, and to witness a kind of Dionysian ritual of musical violence: PeteTownshend jumping, whipping his right arm around, and then smashing his guitar and amp.
Pete Townshend smashing his guitar and amp
It happened accidentally at first, out of frustration over cheap, faulty gear. But the crowd loved it. So, the next Tuesday, Townshend did it again, and Keith Moon joined in, smashing his drum kit. This ritual became so popular, the band couldn't stop despite the fact it was costing them a fortune in equipment replacement.
And Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni, after seeing the Who at the Marquee, tried to hire them for his seminal film Blow-Up, but when they declined he hired The Yardbirds and had Jeff Beck smash up a guitar like Pete.
The Who would go on to solidify their reputation as one of the greatest concert acts in all of rock & roll, and it all began in 1964-65 on the tiny stage of the Marquee Club.
The Who in London at the Marquee Club in 1965 16/3:
Clip of the famous movie "Blow Up" based on The Who at The Marquee: