To tie in with this year’s Cityread London, Hammersmith Library has been celebrating rebellion through our local musical heritage.
Legendary rock venue Hammersmith Odeon (now Apollo) has hosted just about everyone, including such superstars as the Beatles, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Blondie. David Bowie’s final performance as his alter ego Ziggy Stardust took place here in 1973.
In the sixties Mod heroes The Who started off their career in West London, becoming regulars at the Goldhawk Club, Shepherds Bush. Scenes from the film Quadrophenia, were filmed locally, notably in Shepherds Bush Market, Goldhawk Road, and the iconic Cookes Pie and Mash shop, now sadly closed.
In the early seventies the Pub Rock scene took off at venues such as the Nashville, the Red Cow, the Fulham Greyhound, and the Kensington. Famous and not so famous performers included Elvis Costello, Dr Feelgood, Brinsley Schwarz (featuring a young Nick Lowe), Hammersmith Gorillas – and the mighty Ducks DeLuxe!
Later in the decade, the same venues saw the stirrings of a new musical movement: Punk! The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Stranglers, X-Ray Spex and The Jam, amongst many others, all played the local pub scene before achieving national fame/notoriety.
Although venues like the Apollo, Bush Hall and the Shepherds Bush Empire are still going strong, nowadays the live music scene is sadly diminished. However, wandering the streets of Hammersmith or Shepherds Bush, it is still possible to spot an old Mod or Punk – or an occasional Sex Pistol!
Excellent stuff. There are fewer venues than in times gone by and watching old music videos on YouTube not only reminds me of my age but also how much we’ve lost. I’ve seen many bands at the Odeon (sorry, Apollo) over the years though slightly embarrassingly the first time I ever went there was in the early 80s with some school friends to see those early pioneers of Hair Metal, Saxon (I maintain I was forced).
Mick Jones of the Clash used to come into Hammersmith Library and of course the site of the Old Hammersmith Palais is across the road from the Library. A venue that is immortalised in the Song
“White Man at Hammersmith Palais”. Sadly the Palais is now office buildings but those of us old enough to remember still look back on the place with affection.