The Marquee Club - A tribute site dedicated to the history of the legendary Marquee club at London's 90 Wardour street.

Alvin Lee, 1973

Alvin Lee

"?Of all the clubs in London in those days, The Marquee was the most important. I remember that Leo (Lyons) got us an audition there, and we were all very scared of John Gee. He was very strict you know. He?d tell all the bands they had to be in the dressing room a quarter of an hour before they were due on. ?And he used to time the road managers at work. Many a band never really a stepping stone. The last time I played there I got to play there again if the roadies were slack. But we knew John Gee was a jazz fan so we did a quickly improvised version of ?Woodchoppers Ball? and we got a gig. A lot of bands used to say they were big fans of Frank Sinatra to get in.

?Our first gig there was an interval spot for half an hour, and we had to follow the Bonzo Dog Band. The stage was literally smothered in blue smoke from their explosions, and we had to go and play. But we managed to build a small following among the blues freaks and got a residency in 1966.

We did a Christmas show when we went down the queue outside playing banjos. We got a quid in the hat, and some people even crossed the road to give us money. They thought we were genuine buskers. They were a very attentive audience at The Marquee and they didn?t clap a lot. Some musicians didn?t like that, and it wasn?t until later the audiences started going wild. I was quite in awe of that place.

I remember going to see groups there before we started. People like Peter Green with John Mayall, and a gig there was passed out on stage, through lack of oxygen. It was during the last number and I completely blacked out. They had to rush me to hospital. It was about three years ago, and the size of the audience was beginning to get uncomfortable. But I still like the feel of playing in a sweaty club. The sound is so much better and you get more interaction with the audience, instead of just being a performer upon the stage. I don?t see why we couldn?t play there again, but it might be a disappointment, as we are more in tune with big concerts now. I?d like to have a jam there. You know, I always used to get nervous playing The Marquee. I only lived three miles away from the club but but it seemed a very important gig. I can play to 20,000 people in New York and it doesn?t worry me at all.?

-Did Ten Years After ever contribute to the famed graffiti wall in the dressing room? ?I?m sure we wrote something, I can?t remember. But my girl friend told me they had my name written on the wall in the ladies. So that was some kind of status symbol!?"
Melody Maker, 5th May 1973.