Facebook. Love it, hate it or both. There’s nothing quite like it for putting you in touch with people. People who you’d be unlikely to bump into without it. Yesterday, thanks to Facebook, I met Craig Sams and through Craig, a charming young lady called Minnie Kemp. Craig is an interesting chap, for a whole host of reasons (look him up and you’ll see what I mean). He also happens to hang out on a Facebook page called “Original Modernists 1959-1966” where I met him a few days ago.
As some of you will know, I am researching The Scene Club for my next book. The Scene was a mod club in London’s Ham Yard during the early 1960’s, which is a bit of an understatement. Because it was probably the London mod club, along with The Flamingo around the corner in Wardour Street and a couple of others. Access to this famous little club was down a flight of concrete stairs in the corner of Ham Yard, behind The Lyric public house.
Ham Yard has recently been redeveloped and is now home to the rather splendid Ham Yard Hotel and a number of shops and restaurants built around a tree filled garden with a bronze sculpture by Tony Cragg. All very tasteful and, presumably, obliterating any sign of The Scene Club…
Fearing the worst, I paid the place a visit last week and was surprised to discover that the redevelopment stops at the entrance down to the basement formerly occupied by The Scene. The doors, at least, are still there.
Which rather begged a question or two. What is behind them? Does the basement still exist? Does anything survive of the club itself? And more to the point, how might I go about gaining access?
Fortunately, Craig supplied the answer in the form of Minnie from the hotel, who kindly agreed to meet us and to show us around the hotel basement (which she did – the hotel basement houses a very splendid bowling alley – one of a kind, apparently). This was all well and good except for one thing. It turned out that the green doors don’t belong to the hotel at all, but to the next building along. In fact, they belong to Grace, a bar and restaurant which has its front at 42-44 Great Windmill Street. So off we went to Grace and, after a rather awkward conversation with the bar staff, managed to convince David, the manager, to show us his basement.
The basement below Grace is divided into several areas, but on the right, as you go down the steps, is the ‘Milk Bar’. It is all beige leather and pink lights. Not very Scene-like, but something got us wondering. This is why I like to explore the venues that I use in my books. You just never know what you might find…
At the back of the bar area was a door, behind which was a passage and there were the steps up to the green doors that lead out into Ham Yard. What a thrill (if you’re into that kind of thing) to see them from the inside.
So far as we could make out, the area has been partly divided to form a fire escape (the wall, on the right in the picture to the left is recent). Having worked that out, we were beginning to wonder whether there was going to be much more to see, when I happened to look up. I really hadn’t been expecting it. There’s a false ceiling in the main bar area, so nothing much to see at all.
But just before you leave the walkway and re-enter the bar area there is a patch of original ceiling (picture, left). I recognised it immediately. It is the same type of ceiling that appears in the wonderful photographs of The Animals playing The Scene Club, recently discovered by Sanford Santacroce and posted by Sanford, generating huge interest, at Original Modernists 1959-1966. So we were close at least. But how close?
David, the manager at Grace was completely unaware both of the Scene Club’s history, and of the fact that his basement bar might just have played host to the likes of The Animals, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds, The High Numbers (who later became The Who) and The Rolling Stones.
So there you have it. Did we discover the area formerly occupied by The Scene Club? Or is there another area beneath the Ham Yard Hotel still to be discovered by some intrepid explorer? I guess that only time will tell.
Many thanks to Craig Sams for making our visit happen, Minnie Kemp (at Ham Yard Hotel) David (at Grace) and Sanford Santacroce (for the historic pics).
What memories! Although my parents wouldn’t allow me to go “up west” at exactly the right time, so I missed being a part of it. Knew all about it, though!
Thanks Lesley. I missed The Scene the first time around too… My wife Trish reads your books and loves them. I’ve been too busy writing (and exploring basements in central London!) to do much reading lately. Perhaps I’d better take one of yours with me on the train next time I go into London 🙂
Great article – I often have a look at those entrance doors when in London…. and sigh!
I write a fanzine aimed at the Mod / 60s crowd named “Heavy Soul!” and would love to include parts of your article and maybe an interview with you about the book?
Can all be done via email…
Do you think that would be possible?
Hi Adam and thanks for making contact. Yes, please do use the article and I’d be delighted to do an interview for you. The next book (my fourth) will feature The Scene and a fictional band, based around an interview I did with John Steel of The Animals, a few years ago, in which he talks about coming down to London and playing at The Scene. No title yet and still researching. Hence my little visit to Ham Yard. But I’m sure there’ll be plenty to interest your readers. You have my email address… firstname.lastname@example.org
Well done Andy on getting down there – I’ve tried with the staff in Grace but no luck.
Couple of anorak questions :
On the Ham Yard street level is the entrance the door on the left? and once through it do you descend the brown coloured stairs in your photo, to go through the green doors, along the passage and down a second set of steps? There’s a well known pic of Mods on the steps with a poster for the Scene above their heads.
No sign of the famous alcoves then?
Do you know what the Milk bar is used for – private functions maybe?
I’m sure you know this but if you google ‘Cy Laurie Jazz Club’ you’ll get pics of it pre-Scene days.
Any idea what is happening down in the Flamingo basement these days?
Hi Ian. Yes, the entrance down to the basement is via the doors on the left. The third picture down (the slightly yellow one) is the view up the stairs to the inside of the doors. There are now several passages along the back of the basement and further stairs which I think are all original. Craig said that the toilets are where they were originally too. No sign of the alcoves, although there was a recessed area near to the stairs up to Grace. The interior of the downstairs bar area (now called “The Milk Bar”) has, of course, been completely refitted – so quite difficult to work out exactly what was where. According to David (the manager) they use the bar for functions. There is live music at Grace – upstairs only, though, I think. But the Milk Bar is big enough for a small intimate gig – maybe a couple of hundred people with a small stage, although visibility wouldn’t be great. Thanks for the info on Cy Laurie’s (yes, I did know, but I’ll take another look). Not sure about The Flamingo. Perhaps I should turn my attention to that next. Let me know if you discover anything. Regards.
There was an alcove, very elegantly decorated but a separated space to go for a snog.
The doors to the Scene were on the right. You’d go down one flight to a landing that led down left to the short entrance. The box was on the right and the two swing doors led straight in, record booth on your right by the doors. Nobody who is writing about the place could ever have been there.
hi fred, i’ve really enjoyed reading this from andy, in the same way that i’m just so interested in anything on the old days up west, but i have to agree with you’re view ? i’ve come across your comments before on other threads and found your recollections so accurate , i especially related to a comment you shared on another site about walking in soho around 6 in the morning ? that certain smell when it was at it’s freshest , silly little thing but i knew exactly what you meant , i myself was a last chance saloon stalwart went to the others too, la discotheque, scene, mingo, coffee ann etc great times great memories all for now Dave
the membership card was black and it cost £2 to join and there was a chinese guy that took your coat.this is were i herd james Brown s night train which must be the track that epitomises the Scene
not to forget the impression s and the Miricals.
are such great days .
Hi Fred, I was never at The Scene club (wasn’t born then) but have a great interest in that period. I was down in the club last weekend which is now Jack Solomon’s. It seems they have opened the area up and it’s a bit bigger than it was in the Scene days. There are 3 entrances up in the corner of Ham Yard as I came up the stairs with one of the staff and came out at 90 degrees to the old original doors. The place is very atmospheric, dark and a good vibe. I have several photos of it. In a side room there is a replica of Jack Solomon’s practice ring, complete with punch bags etc.
In The Scene, if you were looking at the stage, was the door into the club just to the left of the stage and the DJ booth to the left of that, in the corner? Where were the original toilets?
Other than the alcoves was it just a rectangular or square room or were there side rooms in use?
I wasn’t born then either but as an old 80’s Mod I was keen to know more. Thanks for these posts.
Looking through all the images I can find (Cy Laurie / 50’s Jazz / The Downtown Syncopators etc (there’s a youtube clip of them playing in the DJ Booth mentioned above. )). I think the toilets were opposite the stage. There seems to be (or was around ’62) a serving hatch opposite the DJ recess (original stage) with the toilets to the left of that with your back to the stage. Post Cy Laurie Club days it looks like a partition has gone in on the left and this is the seating area shown in the Mods book. I might be wrong – like I said it closed before I was born. 2 x pillars can be seen in old pics and line up with the pics on this site. Might have to visit.
With only the 100 club left as one of the 60’s iconic venues it would be fantastic to open up another authentic venue.
Wouldn’t it?! I would just LOVE to see a reunion do happen down there… Imagine that.
Don’t forget it was Cy Laurie’s too!
Thanks for the reminder Adrian… Knew about Cy Laurie’s but must admit I haven’t really looked into it, prior to The Scene. Will do so. Cheers.
Been snooping round the doors at Ham Yard many times to try and catch a glimpse or some of the aura from the club . Would love to go in and have a look about and soak up some of the nostalgia , or even better a night of R’n ‘B , coke and fab faces ! That would be groovy !!
It would… the Milk Bar is now very modern but there was definitely a bit of vibe down there, even with all the pink lights (!). It was a weird moment, spotting those patches of original ceiling. Bit of a time warp thing. I get that with buildings sometimes, which is why I always try to find (and explore) the places I use in my books…
I visited The Scene on a number of occasions in 1965. I used to catch the last tube on the Northern Line from Clapham North. As I was only 16 and my parents were rather strict, I used to shimmy down the drain pipe and escape! I would return in the early hours of the morning, after walking home from the West End. What I could never understand was how few people were in the club by the time I got there. I found out later that everyone had left to go to the Marqee Club, which stayed open much later. I did try and get in the Marqee, but was refused as I still looked like a youngster. Very exciting times.
Hi Stephen. Did your parents ever find out that instead of being tucked up in bed, you were wandering the streets of London?!? 🙂
Hi Andy, Fortunately my parents never found out. My Dad had a short temper so I am pleased to say on this occasion I avoided a good clip round the ear plus!
What a nice reading! Thanks for sharing. I’ve really enjoyed it. I was at the entrance once some years ago “chasing ghosts” but never thought the basement was still there! Would be great to locate Sandra, the resident DJ at The Scene Club. She sure has many great memories but no trace of her since those days. Really looking forward to read your book. Greetings from Spain.
I really wasn’t certain that the basement would be there either, Alvaro. Imagine how surprised I was when it turned out that not only is it still there, but it’s still in use (as a bar). I’ve not heard about Sandra before. Might be worth asking on “Original Modernists 1959-1966” (Facebook page)…
Many people think Guy Stevens was the resident DJ but it seems he only did one night per week, Tuesdays I think. Rest was Sandra who DJ ed down there. Later on came James “Doctor Soul” Hamilton as resident.
Alvaro, the ‘Sandra’ you remember was Sandra Black I believe. Not sure what became of her…
Guy Stevens was the DJ on Sundays when I used to go to the Scene. I remember him drinking scotch out of the bottle whilst the music was playing. On several occasions the Animals followed on.
A few minutes of trad jazz and the interior of Macs rehearsal rooms in 1962. Macs rehearsal rooms apparently went on to become the Scene.
No wonder people turned to rhythm and blues! 😎
Lol. couldn’t agree more.
Great feature by the way, it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years but you’ve saved me the job.
Thanks Darryl. You’re not the only one. I think we pipped quite a few people to the post.
A few years ago I attempted to persuade the current owners to allow me to host a Scene Club tribute gig but to say that they weren’t interested is an understatement. I did feature the doorway in a short film made about Soho a couple of yewars ago called A Mod’s Guide to Soho (or something like that). Having dj’s at the Whisky A GoGo as well as a venue that was the original Tiles (in 1982) I thought it would be a fitting tribute to organise an allnighter at the Scene. Also, Guy Stevens did only host pone night a week, although I had been told it was a monday!
I don’t think they’re interested now either, Eddie, more’s the pity. However, I gather that the Milk Bar is available for private hire…
As a fan of the period and music and also a student of Archaeology, I would say that your article is a great piece of research. We saw the building works happening in Ham Yard whilst visiting London and thought that they would obliterate any surviving Scene Club features but, you have proved otherwise. I live in hope of one day excavating the site of the Brazenose street Twisted Wheel in Manchester!
Thanks Mark. Glad you enjoyed the piece. If you do, let me know and I’ll join you!
I often went to London and would Allways visit ham yard, (the place does have a vibe) the building works were going on and I was ready to pounce on a bit of the building if they demolished it…lol.
It’s interesting how certain buildings convey a vibe or a ‘feeling’. I often find that they do. As though what happened in them is recorded in the bricks and mortar. You walk into them and you can almost hear the playback…
They certainly do, a sort of residual energy, if only someone had the forsight to record a few nights there back in the 60’s. Just a recording of the people, music playing, the conversations, dancing, residents of the club who were in bands etc, top faces like micky tanner, and Peter meadon, etc, Sandra the DJ etc, can only imagine what it was actualy like to be there in its heyday..
I once read somewhere that an American news crew had recorded some footage inside the Scene club and around Ham Yard. Dont know how true it is, but maybe someone could verify it.
That would be cool.. I know there were photos taken, easily found on Google etc.. hope someone can come up with the info…Ile try to research it.. I’m sure there must be some footage somewhere. ..
They certainly did I was interview in the scene and outside on the wast land opposite The Red Lion pub corner of Archer Street & Great Windmill Street .Sandie was the DJ most nights and Lionel was the South African bouncer /doorman ,Chinese guy ran the cloakroom and sold bottles of Pepsi Cola . I was working at Fortnum and Mason at the time and in store was an American Jewellery concession called Arthur King a few days after the interview Arthur King came up to me in Fortnums and said I saw you on TV in New York the other night Fame at last amongst others interview were Mickey Tenner ,Denzil ,Sandy Ratcliffe and Tony Crunchbucket as he was called in around 1964 the Sunday Times cloud supplement also did a article about the Scene featuring many of us the Scene and The Flamingo were the best clubs ever in those days
Excellent research, I’m another Ham Yard skulker!
An R&B / soul night there would be epic. .
It would, but the management seem strangely reluctant… 🙁
One of the original Scene mods wrote and published a short story about the club in a magazine called Metropolitan, sometimes in the 1990’s – the mag was published in Manchester.
Thank you mate. Sorry its been a while, but I’ve received no notifications from this page for ages.
My mum worked at The Scene, behind the bar and in the cloakroom sometimes. Witnessed it all!
Thanks for the great article, I’ll show it to her.
Should bring back some memories for her. As will the book, when I finally get there. Watch this space (it’s a work in progress)!
In the article it says that the doors to The Scene were on the left,; they’re weren’t, they were on the right. Eddie Piller makes the same mistake in his Youtube film.
I’ve heard that before…imo there should be a plaque outside. .esp considering the well known people who frequently went there and bands that played there and the fact it is THE most infamous MOD club in the world…
My Dad ran the bar in the Scene Club with his brother. As I was only born in 1962, my parents sometimes took me along in the pram and kept me out of sight! Dad designed and built the booths in the club. The Manager at the time was Lionel Blake, he was also a bit actor. You’ll see him as one of the German scientists in ‘Operation Crossbow’. He lived with us for a time.
I’ve been searching all over the internet for pictures of the Scene Club’s interior as Dad talks about it often and I think he’d like to see it again, this is the first time I’ve managed to find a few pictures. I’ll be showing Dad and Mum tomorrow. Dad will be s 78 this year and Mum will be 76.
If anyone has pictures of the interior of The Scene Club back in the early 60s, I would love for them to share them so I can show Dad and Mum. It would make their day!
I look forward to obtaining your book Andy!
Love to talk to you about your parents’ memories of The Scene Club. I’m writing something that touches on this period.
Thank you for your message Steve, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise that anyone had left me any messages but got something today and was having a bit of a whinge saying ‘no one ever gets back to me’ etc. only to find you have left me a message and so has Mervyn. If it’s not too late, please let me know what you’d like to know.
Hi Paulette. I am researching the ownership of the Scene Club from its transition from Cy Laurie. I have read that Lionel Blake was the Manager and that Guy Stevens was the DJ – someone wrote on Sunday nights only, and someone else contradicted that by saying that it was Monday nights. Unfortunately (for me) I don’t know your last name so I don’t know who the owner was. You wrote: “My Dad ran the bar in the Scene Club with his brother.” Do you mean that your Dad and his brother owned only the bar, or the whole club? Who was the actual owner who paid money to convert it from a jazz club and then paid the rent on the premises? Or did the owner of the Scene Club own the building as well? I have seen then name Ronan O’Rahilly associated with co-ownership, but I in the process of documenting his life in order to debunk the myths about Radio Caroline and Georgie Fame. O’Rahilly has claimed many things, all of them are turning out to be either false or gross exaggerations of his actual relationship to other people. So I am looking for proof-positive of actual ownership that can be verified by documentation. My email is email@example.com
Apologies for the delay in replying. I’ve just emailed you. Didn’t realise anyone had left me any messages!
Hi Paulette. Its been a while I know. Sorry. If your father is willing and able, would he be able to sketch the whole floor plan, steps down and steps up to the front entrance in the Panama Club (?) Would be amazing if he could, then I could start to render a 3d model of the place using pictures I’ve picked up along the way. Thank you. Vesperboy69@gmail.com
Hi , I used to go to the scene all the time . Saw long john Brawdy there, he had some nasty body guard types, really unnecessary, as we were used to chatting to the groups, the Animals, Georgie fame and the blue flames , endless lists of what became top bands
In reply to the guy who mentioned a film was possibly made there, yes there was , I was there that night .
A guy I was seeing at the time called Denzil, showed reporters around all the London clubs including the scene, and the disco in streatham , the article was in the glossy magazine of the Observer newspaper. Hope this helps . My name was maggie newton at the time .
Hello, I was a regular at the Scene Club around 63 / 65 ish. I knew a guy called Denzil with loads of jet black hair and was very stylistly dressed. We occasionlly went to parties as well as meeting at the club and the pub across the road. I remember one evening we drove around Oxford street looking for a late night snack. Maybe we knew each other then ??
Have really enjoyed reading this. I am currently starting to plan a novel that will include The Scene club at some point. This will be a big help, thanks.
i’ve been back many times andy just for a stroll around the old haunts , the question “whats down there now” has been well and truly answered now many thanks , the whereabouts of sandra the DJ are a mystery ? i myself was a regular “up west” from late 64 thru to early 66 by which time most of the clubs had gone the scene was hanging on by a thread but was never the same as its heyday my top 3 tunes from the scene were the blendells la,la,la,la,la , cookie and the cupcakes got you on my mind, and much later on at the very end of the scene club sam n dave you dont know like i know, thanks for a great post andy i’ll definately be stopping by again regards Dave
Andy, Great research, I danced to “Hole in the Wall” by the Packers in my expensive leather sole Italian shoes. Only leather sole shoes were permitted on the wooden floor by the management. A fine dust would be generated by the dancers, which was swept away by a fine broom during a all nighter. The current owner, if any sense, should clear out the vulgar Grace, and restore it back to The Scene circa 1963. It could be London’s Caven.
Think of the tourist attraction, it could be a money pit.
I was there virtually every night it was open , I worked as a trainee salesman at Covent Garden flower market in them days , started work at 1 a.m aprox ,finished at around 9.am went home to dalston to get some kip .woke up tea time had some grub then met some mates and up west , we did all the clubs on a who was on basis , including la discotheque, whiskey ago go , flamingo, the original marquee , the last chance saloon , but virtually always ended up at the scene . then it was a walk down to Leicester Square a walk along the strand and into work . . so seen all the acts , shagged every available bird , danced my arse off , every night and now at 72 just left with fond memories as I look out from my welsh hilltop pad over the Irish Sea
Do you remember Willie Gilmore the local rascal, and Curly King (now gone).
Motown music was played almost non stop.
Then there was a cafe called Freight Train.
Hi like you I used to visit the club many times a week as I could. My main problem was I lived in Wood Green N/London and had to walk home due to no transport of my own. I used to get home in the week about 3-4 in the morning then return to Fleet Street for work
A crowd of guys from Tottenham and Hornsey used to go as well
The hole in the wall opposite where you got drinks was handy
I can still recall bopping on the steps waiting to oau to get in to the sound of Night Train and Major Lance great feeling
I meet some good friends from there at the time and visited many clubs and coffee bars
The Last Chance was good and I knew a few guys from there from Stanford Hill
Later I moved on to Samathas Countdown and the Club people’s club that opened about 3 am
La Valbon and a few others
I also worked near Manchester and visited Mr Smiths Nile Club Blinkers Club was one Georgie Best went to a lot and was still there at 3/4 am sometimes the night before a match on Brandy and Coke?
Newcastle was a good place for music
Good old days
Having read your excellent article, I thought you might like to know Jack Solomon’s have given me the green light to organise a special event at this location. Further information will be published when available primarily on the OM Facebook page.
Hi Richard, That would be tremendous and I’d love to support it in any way that I can.
The soft drinks at the Scene club were NOT powder and water.
The booths you’ve mentioned were designed and built by my Dad!
My Dad ran the bar of the Scene Club with my Uncle, they were friends with Ronan O’Rahilly.
I’ve left several messages about this and no one has ever come back to me.
If you want an accurate description of the Scene Club, my Dad will give you one…
Lionel Blake, was the South African bouncer there (he was also a bit part actor, you can see him in the movie ‘Operation Crossbow’, he’s one of the German scientists). Has anyone bothered to search him out? Has anyone spoken to Georgie Fame, who I know remembers the Scene Club as I spoke to him several years ago. How about the Rolling Stones? They played there before they were famous.
The people who describe themselves as ‘Mods’ at the time are probably the same people who would ask Dad if they could put their ‘stash’ of drugs behind the bar when the police raided. My Dad, who has always been an upstanding citizen, told them no, perhaps that’s why they are insulting about the bar and drinks?….
You can also see Lionel in an episode of the Avengers: the one where they try to bomb the Prime Minister’s train. He has a fight with John Steed and Mrs Peel.
I used to go ‘up west’ in my youth all the time. The Scene was the best, had a certain atmosphere. Used buy some blues and get blocked. Didnt seem to do me any harm (cant speak for others).. Should put a notice or something up. Part of soho history.
By the time I started to go up west in 65 the Scene was no longer the place to go. Older friends from Dagenham went there regularly in early mid 63 and they also went to Last Chancel . Later ie 65 Flamingo Marquee Le Kilt La Douce were the place we seemed to visit . This is a bit sad as they dont quite have the same nostalgic resonance as The Scent and Last Chance. It was at the latter two clubs that fashions in dress and music originated. Just missed out by a year of twol
Apologies, just seen some messages for me! Yayyyyyy!
I’ll get back to those, thank you!
Message for Paulette
I’m writing a series of magazine articles about Ronan O’Rahilly, who sadly passed away in April 2020. Would be interested to hear any memories / anecdotes about Ronan and the Scene club.
Hi everyone, I was a regular at all the clubs mentioned, the scene, the flamingo, the whiskey & the marquee. My memories are quite vivid and I have turned then into walking tours…check out my website http://www.backinthedaywalks.co.uk.
I see the name Jeff Cohen, are you the jeff cohen I knew? tall guy, have great memories of Brighton weekends together. Micky & chris, sandy sergeant, jim townsend just a few names who come to mind. only a few short years but never to be forgotten. Ham yard hotel is pretty special, worth a look around the area for old times sake
happy for any feedback
I find it hilarious that with all the fond memories no-one is mentioning Purple Hearts. Are you serious Paulette that no drugs were allowed in the Scene? They were rife. I lasted for 6 months between April 1964- October 1964. Danced there until 6.a.m. Then down to Anne’s then to Waterloo Station to clean myself up before going home. Then Sunday afternoon down to the Flamingo. Hardly anyone at that club went there straight. It’s interesting to read how the place gradually faded. I went back drug free and was totally bored. The music was great though and I have never regretted the madness I indulged in. Please don’t tell me the drinks weren’t watered down. I wasn’t that “blocked” Just glad I got out before it killed me.
Hi Barbara – Yes, I remember well the Purple Hearts!! I also remember the Chinese guys in the cloak room and Lionel at the door.
Nice one Barbara.
Pills were part and parcel of it.
Did loads of clubs. Flamingo, Last Chance, Scene were favourites. Tiles was another. Never had one night without pills. Danced all night. Up the lanes Sunday morning. Back to work Monday. Travelled up from South Coast. Came up as a team with loads of pills. All for our own use.
New years eve at the Flamingo 1965 was amazing. Chris Farlowe and Geno Washington.
What days. Never forgotten. Unfortunately some did progress to other stuff and are not all here to reminisce.
Hi one and I came to London from
Glasgow 1963 only 16 stayed for 5 years went to Scene club very week end first night me and my mates hit Scene club wee saw guys dancing themselves sat down ,guy came up said wont some gear I said what u got shirts ties he got walked away it was blues ? met my first love here very time I go down to London first stop Ham Yard
Photos ,best time of my life when I miss coffee anns still got some gear in garage no joke
Would love to see that gear. Ya know, for educational purposes. Send me a pic pls firstname.lastname@example.org
Great that book has been published. I hope our experiences are well documented as part of story. In my opinion we are all top people and were living the greatest time of our lives. The Scene Club was amazing along with many other clubs where we spent long weekends high on pills.
I have done my best, Stick. But I guess you’ll have to read it to find out!! 🙂
I was taken to The Scene by a girl with whom l worked (Linda) who was a friend of Guy. Stevens. l remember Guy playing Little Stevie Wonder (as he was then), parts one & two. He sparked an interest in soul and Motown that has stayed with me ever since.
“Clap your hands, stamp your feet, do anything you wanna do”
Stevens gets a couple of mentions in the book, though he doesn’t appear in it – the book is entirely fictional. But it is in the context of his record collection that he is mentioned, so hopefully the context is correct, even if the events are fictional.
Just happened upon your site by chance. Haha brings back amazing mammaries & memories.
During the period 1962-1966 rock star Adrian Gurvitz and myself were regular visitors to The Scene as well as all the other clubs,many of which have been mentioned herein, but these are only the Soho ones, there were many other specialised blues/jazz/R&B venues around London. But in Soho, one basement venue not mentioned was Ken Colyer’s Jazz Club/Studio 51 in Gt Newport Street, they had Sunday afternoon sessions and quite often the Downliners Sect would be playing.
Guy Stevens DJ night called ‘Rhythm & Blues Record Session’ was on a Monday. Admission was 2/6 old money, 12½p now ! The US records guy played were sold in a Lisle St basement on Saturday mornings. It was called Transat Imports and many of the Scene’s regulars would be there each week, jostling for the few available copies of new US imports freshly arrived.
Must go, but if you want any additional info that my addled brain may be able to recall, please contact me.
Those halcyon days seem to use the title of an oft played Scene disc – ‘So Far Away’ ! (by Hank Jacobs btw) Happy Daze and Love and Pieces to all you Soul Survivors out there. xx
Just announced on Robert Elms Radio London show that they’re recreating The Scene Club for one night only down at Jack Solomons this Saturday (tomorrow) 21st December 2019.
*Note: this is not anything to do with Robert Elms or the BBC he just announced it.
I have a memory of being at an all nighter with the Rolling Stones at the scene club and the Beatles coming down to check them out . It would have been very late 62 or early 63 .There were not to many people there , spoke to George Harrison who’s opinion was “they’re just another 12 bar group” and to Ringo Lennon and Mcartney were at the side of the bandstand watching them , I think they were looking for how to write them a song , which they did shortly afterwards .
Thanks for the memory, Ian. First Stones gig at the Scene was Thursday 20 June 1963, then 28 June and 4 July and 11 July. The Beatles would have been at one of those. 20 June or 4 July most likely as they were on five-day touring breaks both times. Anyway, amazing you were in the same room as all five Stones and all four Beatles. Not a lot of people can say that.
I see the Grace Bar shut, any idea what it is now ?
“Grace’s” is now Sophie’s Soho Steakhouse, but I have a feeling that the Scene was actually in the basement next door (Jack Solomon’s, 41 Gt Windmill St). The commentary on this photo certainly seems to suggest so.
i went to most of the clubs back in the day , my club of choice was the last chance saloon but i must say the scene was best for music , it is the scene that gets talked about mostly but back then they were as good as each other , the scene closed at 6am sunday morning and they all used to walk round to “the chance” as it stayed open until 7 30 i think they were charged a reduced amount , guy stevens seemed to be able to get hold of records from the states that weren’t released here , even the “coffee-ann had a great selection of RnB records on the juke box 63 thru to 66 and it was all over for the most part one thing is for sure ? it musta had something special because here we are 55 years down the stretch and still talking about it ! all aboard ?
Nice to hear from a fellow Scene Club aficionado. We discovered the Scene in about
1964 ish. and were regulars for about 3-4 years. The music was great with live blues/
jazz and the Friday night sessions of the Animals, lotes of atmostphere and the chance discovering new friends. We came from North London Muswell Hill area, drove to the Scene and usually parked in the car park in Ham Yard. These were great times and would love to meet fellow travellers.
How lovely to read the article about the Scene. I used to go there every week on Tuesdays with my friends Sandy (Sandy Ratcliffe later to become an actor) and Ann. I got on the Piccadilly Line at Oakwood, and they got on at Highbury. I have memories of sitting on the back stairs having a fag with Lionel – I thought he was a ‘bouncer’ – I now believe he was the manager. What a wonderful gentleman – I was all of 14 and he looked after me without every trying anything on. A couple of years later I bumped into him in Mayfair and he took me on a tour of the Radio Caroline offices in Chesterfield Street. I knew he was a chum of Ronan O’Railly. What carefree, happy days they were. I think it was taken over around the mid-60s by a guy called Nicky.
The Grace also used to be called Sugar Reef when I worked there in 2000… I realised it was The Scene after I’d left then read about it somewhere. Still thrills me that I used to park my Vespa around the back next to the doors. 🙂
Janet St Porter (loose woman) I believe was a scene club regular in the day, she could provide interesting stuff.
i was a regular at the Scene from December 1963 to September 1964. i lived in the south Ken area, so it was only a half hour’s walk back home, usually around 6am on Friday nights and Saturdays. i remember the Animals on a Thursday an often on a Sunday. then there was the Hi Numbers (the Who) often on a Saturday. every time i went i would score 10 purple hearts from a regular face down there. if i remember correctly i paid 5 bob for the 10 pills. always had to woof the lot back and get on with the dancing. i loved it and became mates with a bloke from Bermondsey. his name was Alan. i’d love to share some old memories with him. we were crazy about the Impressions, and Major Lance. i used to love walking about in the early hours in soho, and walking through that archway that led to the Strand Palace Hotel. Used to love the smell of soho, especially in the mornings. Also used to love the smell of sweat and chewing gum and purple hearts down the sweaty basement of the Scene. great times, never forgotten. does anyone remember Nancy Urquhart from those days? And Paul Beecham. both from the Churchill Gardens Estate in Pimlico? PS…there’s a photo of me from those days” in Paul “Smiler” Anderson’s great 2013 book called “MODS – The New Religion
I too would like to know what happened to Willie Gilmore , he was a super hip guy and we spent many a great night down the down the Scene , Mingo & others .last time I saw Willie He said he was going to the States with his girl friend to work with her dad. Hope he’s still around & Happy
I was introduced to the Scene by Easter 1964, , and went with some of the crowd from the Leyton and Walthamstow area of east London. I remember the Black & white membership cards. Although most of the patrons came from London and the Home Counties I was to meet a gaggle of girls from Northamptonshire, who I stayed friends with for some time. I only ever went up for Saturday all-nighters, and only remember “The Night-timers playing there. Herbie Goins was not the original front man, but came sometime later. A few US airmen would be regulars, and I remember Winston Brown, a fab dancer, whose moves one could copy, if you remembered through aa a drug fueled haze. The original closing time was 8am, and entry to members 10/- [50p]. The music was great, much of it Chicago soul, which I still play to this day. All went well until the 6th December 1964, when a police raid took place. This made the Monday Red-tops, I still have the article from the Daily Sketch. By the new year we thought it would end, the records were given away, and the doors would close for a couple of weeks. Whem re-opened new membership cards were provided, this time red and white, the only other change was chucking out was now 6am, a pain really as London Transport was not awake. The new owners came, with new records and it went on as before. I was to meet the previous owners, now working as carnies, and managed to obtain Major Lance’s 2Monkey Time” LP which I still have. I ceased going up west in 1967, when after ahing the question – did I go clubbing to take pills, or did I take pill to go clubbing. When I couldn’t answer I thought best to stop. I could write much more, but think this is enough to be getting on with Happy times that have never left.
By the time I started to go up west in 65 the Scene was no longer the place to go. Older friends from Dagenham went there regularly in early mid 63 and they also went to Last Chance . Later ie 65 Flamingo Marquee, Le Kilt, La Douce were the places we seemed to visit . This is a bit sad as they dont quite have the same nostalgic resonance as The Scene and Last Chance. It was at the latter two clubs that fashions in dress and music originated. Just missed out by a year of twol
I started to go up west in early 64, first to the Scene and the Discotheque and later to the Flamingo. The Scene and the Discotheque had better play lists ( Ray Barretto, Hank Jacobs etc), but the Flamingo had the best live acts. In a short space of time I saw Inez & Charlie Foxx, the Soul Sisters, T Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, Rufus Thomas, Major Lance, Lou Johnson and, best of all, Irma Thomas singing a cappella, because her band didn’t know her ‘book’. I used to live in Hampstead, so Soho was only a 15 minute bus ride away,so if I’d been up on a Friday night, I could come back on Saturday to visit Trans At. Happy Days,
We often went to the Scene. Saw the Animals first gig there. Also saw the Rolling Stones. However, it was the R&B records that I really enjoyed. First time I heard Mary Wells’ Bye Bye Baby and the Rocky Fellers Killer Joe was at the Scene. Other clubs were the Flamingo with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames in residence as well as Chris Farlowe. The Marquee with Manfred Mann in residence. Also saw the Rolling Stones at Studio 51. 100 Club was O.K. but it was really a Trad Jazz outlet. Went to the discos, the Whisky a Go Go, Le Kilt, the Last Chance Saloon, St Anne’s and Tiba’s Dive Bar. But my very favourite place was Eel Pie Island.
I’m no expert here but from the picture I’ve seen of the exterior of the Scene club – it looks like the entrance was via that doorway next to the bricked up window – in that scruffy looking building painted black in the short YouTube video that exists. Sadly now knocked down as part of the Ham Yard Hotel, unless those still existing fire doors are loading doors back in the day – I think you may have found the wrong building, as the basement would now be under the hotel. There’s a scene club comp that has a clear photo of the front of the club with the club sign and arrow pointing at the door I mentioned.
As I say I’m not expert, but London clubs have always fascinated me – I had a magazine in the early 2000s that used to map all the old clubs – it wasn’t very accurate as it claimed the scene club was knocked down for a car park – however me and a friend visited Ham Yard and found that black looking building and figured that probably was the Scene as it was described to be tucked away in the corner. Shame it’s gone for good now – due to the hotel – it’s criminal how many great venues London’s lost over the years.
i remembered the days very well.. i was 15 so must have been 1962. sandy ratcliffe i knew and paul beecham a friend.
purple hearts and black bombers. getting hauled out by police in a raid and put in a police van to the nick. does anyone remember ahmed from the cloakroom.
the pub opposite that the woman who owned didnt let us girls in. cant remember her name. snogging under the piano on the stage. and the little blonde woman who sang with one of the bands. her version of ‘stand by me’ was brilliant. so many people i remember and who i’m still in touch with. eric clapton on stage with the yardbirds.
walking home at 6am on a sunday morning and getting the train to brighton for day to sleep on the beach. i have a picture of denzil on brighton beach. then the people from ready steady go came and spoilt it….
my name is Dennis and a few of us spent every weekend at the scene from 63 – 65.
My mates kept going but I started going steady and no way was I allowing my new girl friend Sheila (now married 57 years) into the Scene lol.
There were too many really in people there I she was a real stunner and I would have lost her, but rather lose the brilliant scene than Sheila :-))))