9 Secrets Of The 100 Club

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9 Secrets Of The 100 Club

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Sounds Like London.

The 100 Club is one of the iconic London venues taking part in the Mayor of London's Sounds Like London campaign — a month-long celebration of both women in music and London's grassroots music scene, taking place throughout June.

The 100 Club on Oxford Street started out life as a restaurant-swing bar called Mack's, in 1942. Before long, it was synonymous with jazz, and then — in the 1970s — became the sweat-spattered home of punk rock in London. How many of these things did you know about this legendary venue?

1. The same stage

Klaxons play the 100 Club in 2014. Photo: 100 Club

The stage that was erected here in 1964 by then-owner Roger Horton, has weathered sweat, blood, tears — and its fair share of spittle — and remains, to this day, the exact same stage. That means it's hosted everyone from Howlin' Wolf to The Rolling Stones to The Clash to Amy Winehouse. Imagine the supergroups you could create from the acts who've played here...

2. The I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue link

With thanks to Trinity Mirror. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited.

In its early days as a jazz haunt, the venue hosted the likes of Glenn Miller, Ray Ellington and Benny Goodman. But there was one regular who really made a name for himself here: trumpeter extraordinaire Humphrey Lyttelton. So much so, in fact, that for a while, the venue was renamed the Humphrey Lyttelton Club. He was indeed the same Humphrey Lyttelton who went on to host long-running panel show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. That's right, the world's premiere punk venue was once named after a geriatric BBC Radio 4 presenter. Just a pity that the nearest station is Tottenham Court Road, and not Mornington Crescent...

3. An emporium of crystal and glass

There was, of course, life at 100 Oxford Street before its days as a music venue. One of the notable establishments that preceded it couldn't have been much more different from the murky basement of the 100 Club. Between 1859 and 1928, the address was home to the shimmering showroom of glass and crystal makers, Osler. "The visitor to London who leaves without seeing the Show Rooms of Monsieur Osler," ran one ad, "has missed one of the sights of the metropolis." Indeed, it was quite the spectacle. Osler also made a glass bust of Queen Victoria, for the 1851 Great Exhibition. Imagine letting the Sex Pistols loose on that...

4. The Chinese takeaway

All that pogo jumping and lager swilling back in the punk heyday, made for hungry work. Just as well, then, that at one point, the club had its own Chinese takeaway, slotted neatly between the gents' and ladies' toilets. As Simon Wright remembers in The Guardian, "In addition to the usual smells of beer and sweat, it smelled of egg fried rice, too." Mmm.

5. The violent Sid Vicious

It's impossible to mention the 100 Club without bringing up Sid Vicious. Most famous as the snarky bassist of The Sex Pistols, Vicious actually appeared on the drums for the infamous 1976 Punk Special, in a line-up that included Viv Albertine and Siouxsie Sioux. At the time, the band had no name and no real songs — probably why they ended up doing a 20-minute jam centred around The Lord's Prayer. On the second night of the Special, Vicious decided to hurl a glass against a pillar, which shattered, and blinded a young woman in one eye.

His violent tendencies didn't stop there. The next year, Vicious attacked music journo Nick Kent in the club, with a bicycle chain. Kent remembers "[Vicious] made some remark which he thought was insulting like: 'I don't like your trousers'", before lashing into him.

6. Heavy metal jam

When Metallica performed a warm up for Castle Donnington at the 100 Club in 1987, enthusiastic fans started queuing up from 6.30am. As many as 12,000 waited outside the venue, trying to get in. Nothing could get down Oxford Street in either direction for hours.

7. A passive aggressive letter from Ronnie Scott

Even famous music venues have been known to indulge in the odd spot of #bantz over the years — as this letter from Ronnie Scott, to then-owner of the 100 Club Roger Horton, suggests:

Image: 100 Club

8. Oasis for £250

While we're on the subject of money...

On 24 March 1994, Oasis played a sizzling six-song-set at The 100 Club. How much did the band cost to book? According to a memo, which features in the book 100 Club Stories, it was £250. Not bad, seeing as in recent times, the band has turned down millions to reform. The same memo cheerfully warns: "The PA is slightly rustic but it works. In short, if you want full production play somewhere else."

9. Saved by Paul McCartney

The Beatles never played The 100 Club, but in 2010, Sir Paul McCartney took to the stage, to rattle off classics including Magical Mystery Tour, Drive My Car and Band on the Run. The rare intimate gig was part of a fundraiser to save the club, and it appears to have done the trick. The best bit of banter? McCartney quipping, "People used to give us fag packets to sign back in the old days. This bloke's just said, 'Can you sign my iPad?'"

Click here to view Sounds Like London's month-long line-up, including the upcoming gigs at The 100 Club.

Last Updated 18 September 2018