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

Interview - DJ Mandy Hermitage

Mandy Hermitage

Born Amanda Daphne Hermitage in Duxford, Cambs, DJ Mandy Hermitage was resident DJ at The Marquee Club during the punk days as well as one of the most important female DJs from the London scene in the late 70's. After having worked as a freelance music journalist for music magazines such as Sounds and Record Mirror under the names of Angela Ripper and Connie Lingus, Mandy Hermitage started working as a DJ at The Marquee from 1977 to 1981. She was also a big supporter of an array of new sounds in the music scene of the time, such as punk rock and reggae. After quitting working at The Marquee, she worked in some of the most reputed London venues and clubs, including The Lyceum, Electric Ballroom, Hammersmith Palais, and Music Machine. In 1990, Mandy became a therapist, working with injuries and teaching Pilates therapy.

Themarqueeclub.net talked to Mandy about her memories on The Marquee club.


What is the first image that springs to your mind when you hear the words 'Marquee Club'?

1977, constant partying and vague memories!

Do you remember the very first time you ever visited the club?

Sadly no. I was working as a freelance journalist for Sounds and Record Mirror under the pseudonym Angela Ripper and Connie Lingus. I imagine it was to see a band who was causing a stir.

Apparently, the bar of the club was always full of journalists drinking and checking out bands, do you remember that?

Yes, and some band members who never appeared to go home. Loads of music business people too, agents, managers, A&R, there was such an explosion of new music and The Marquee was always putting on new bands as support acts.

Can you remember how did you get the job at The Marquee?

I was living with my brother and a guy called Nick Leigh who had a residency there on a Sunday night and he couldn't make it one Sunday and asked me to do it. I seemed to take over his spot.

So, I presume that the artists had a certain freedom to fill in gaps at the club in such cases, without the supervising of the club managers, is that right?

I don't think the managers had any part in the booking of the bands. It was usually the agents who did it and presumably, on occasion, the main band would want a particular support group on with them.

What kind of music did you use to play at the club?

Mainly punk and reggae, although I would try and complement the music of the band who was playing. Thankfully, most of it was punk orientated. I drew the line at playing heavy metal.

Did you play different styles depending on the band who was playing that night?

Yes, unless I really hated what they played! And I was determined to play as much new music as possible as apart from John Peel, you couldn't hear it on the radio.

Do you remember which was your schedule at the club?

I think I started at 7 pm and played in between bands. After the final encore I would play one closing song but the bar would stay open indefinitely (possibly not legally!) Initially, I just did Sundays but I did seem to be there an awful lot and I definitely filled in other days as well.

I have heard some crazy stories going on at the club during the after hours when the bar was still open. Can you confirm this?

Absolutely. The problem was, however, that we were all off our heads and my memories are horribly vague!

During the time you worked at The Marquee, some of the most important artists who played the club were The Heavy Metal Kids, The Police, Ultravox, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Generation X, The Dammed, Boomtown Rats, The Jam, XTC, and The Pretenders. Do you remember seeing any of these at The Club?

All of them, except The Heavy Metal Kids and Eddie & the Hot Rods.

Do you have any particular memory from any of these shows?

Only the general atmosphere there which was that music was moving forwards at a brisk pace and that we were all there at the beginning of it. Many of the shows were sold out and it got very hot and sweaty. It was like we were seeing something unique.

One of the historical nights at The Marquee was on March the 4th 1979, the night The Cure and Joy Division played at the club. I believe that you djed at the club that night. Can you remember?

Did I?!

I'm pretty sure that you were billed that particular night.

I do remember seeing both bands very early on and being very distressed when Ian Curtis hung himself as I had only seen him the week before. I do remember the Cure because they had just released "Killing an Arab" and Joy Division were always brilliant. There were so many new bands the whole time and I saw every one of them at the beginning, including the Sex Pistols in 1976 at one of their first gigs.

Do you mean the infamous only gig of Sex Pistols at The Marquee?

I can't specifically remember seeing the Sex Pistols at The Marquee, but I am sure I would have been there.

Is there any particular band at the club that impressed you specially?

Gosh, there were so many. Joy Division, The Psychedelic Furs, Ultravox, The Human League, The Slits, Johnny Thunders...

Ultravox with John Foxx, I guess...

Yes. But it all seemed so natural, they weren't legends then!

That was the charm of it, I think.

Yes, music was changing so rapidly and we were all so anti-hippies and heavy metal. As you couldn't hear the music on the radio we spent every evening at gigs.

Oh yes, Siouxsie and the Banshees.

She said once that The Marquee was some sort of stinky business club, or something similar (1), though.

The Marquee was quite sordid and smelly by the end of the night, although it didn't stop Siouxsie from going there.

Elvis Costello, Pere Ubu, The Snivelling Shits, The Normal, UB40, Gang of Four, The Comsat Angels, Fad Gaget, Thompson Twins, Throbbing Gristle, Joe Jackson, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Pop Group, Teardrop Explodes, The Only Ones...

I didn't know Throbing Gristle played at The Marquee.

I may be wrong about Throbbing Gristle. I forgot U2!

That's right, I'm sure they were a very different band at the time!

Yes, much less pop oriented. I remember Bono telling me in about 1980 or maybe before that we were all going to become very famous. He was half right!

In the late 70's, Jerry Floyd and Ian Flemming used to be resident DJs at the club. Do you remember them?

Jerry Floyd and Ian Fleming! Yes, I remember both of them. Jerry sadly died in the eighties I think and Ian played more conservative music.

Did you have any friendship with any of them?

No, not really or not that I remember. Jerry was quite competitive and didn't particularly like me DJing there. I seem to remember that Ian was quite quiet and we were into different things, but a nice guy.

Do you think there was some kind of rivalry for the music style or just for the professional side of it?

Possibly as to who could get the newest demos from record companies (on Jerry's part, not mine) and he really felt he was the main man!

During the period that you worked at The Marquee, the club was managed by Jack Barrie, Ulrik Prutz and Nigel Hutchings. What was your relationship with them?

Jack I didn't know terribly well. I was quite friendly with Uli and Nigel was a sweetheart. He looked after fifteen! I think he took over after Uli left.

That's right

Did you become friends with any of the musicians performing at the Marquee?

Yes, with a lot of them. But I am only in touch with two of them now. Some died, some grew up, some became extremely famous... Dave Martin who was in Chelsea and who became a client of mine about three years ago (unbeknown to him when he contacted me that I was Mandy H) and Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs has recently googled me and we are in contact again. Oh yes, and John Ashton from the Psychedelic Furs who was Dave Martin's best friend and he has recently e-mailed me as a result of my contact with Richard.

You must have been one of the first female DJs ever in Britain. Do you remember missing a stronger female presence in the music scene?

No, although women were starting to get careers and once punk hit the scene we all felt we could do whatever we wanted.

Other female artists have told me how uncomfortable used be to work there for a girl. Is that right?

I don't think Jerry liked the fact there was a woman DJ, but I don't remember any prejudice but I was probably too stoned to notice!

No, I mean, a dressing room without toilets, the heat, and so...

I thought there was a loo back stage! It was hardly the most comfortable place to be but none of the venues were.

By 1981 you quit working at The Marquee. Why?

Grandmaster Flash hit the scene and I wanted to dance! I also realized that music was moving in another direction with mixing etc. and I would have had to make a much bigger effort to be innovative. I chose to dance instead!

I can understand what you say, remind me of this song by Blondie describing the picture of the scene and Grandmaster Flash heading the whole thing.

Can't remember! I can hear the first Grandmaster Flash record I heard in my head but not really up on Blondie stuff as she was a bit poppy. By which I mean I can't remember the title!

It's a song called Rapture from 1980, it's kind of hip hop stuff, about Debbie Harry seeing him Djing for the first time in New York.

Yes I do remember Rapture!

Later you DJed to other important London clubs and venues, such as the Lyceum, Electric Ballroom, Hammersmith Palais, and Music Machine. How different was the atmosphere at these places from The Marquee?

The main difference was that the venues were bigger and the band were also becoming more well known.

Did you ever visit the Marquee club or keep in touch with people from the club after that?

I'm sure I visited The Marquee again but can't remember how my contact with so many people stopped gradually. Survived, beheaded, died...

Is there any particular anecdote from The Marquee that always makes you laugh?

Sadly no. So many wild nights and my memories are so vague. I did ask my friends Dave and Richard if they could remember anything. Dave said if you were there you can remember it you weren't really there. And Richard says that all he remembers is that I was dancing on a table wearing a lampshade and he was told this was a nightly occurrence. I think he might be winding me up and taking advantage of my drug induced memory loss!

Well, maybe you got to influence some new romantic artist like Steve Strange with that outfit!

Not that I am aware of, but then again who knows.

What did you think when you heard about the demolishing of the original building at 90 Wardour street?

Sad, but sadly so many buildings have vanished now. I expect they are planning to build 1,000 homes with in-built shopping centre on it!

If you had to define the effect that The Marquee Club had in your life or in your musical career, how would you put it into words?

That's a big one. A good way to waste a misspent youth! I wish I could remember

Notes:
(1) Sounds, April 1980. Interview by Robbie Millar

Interview by K. Barroso, May 2007.
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