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

Interview - Mick Clarke of Freddie Mac's Extravaganza

Mick Clarke

Guitarist Mick Clarke is one of the witnesses of the golden years of The Marquee Club during the late 60's and early 70's, going onstage in numerous occasions with his bands Freddie Mac's Extravaganza and Orang Utan. Not only did Mick witness some of the top gigs at the club, such as Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who and the Nice, but he even happened to become the Marquee's "Official" 10 millionth customer.

Mick shared his dearest memories from the place that what he describes as home of "The Real Deal".


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

For me the image is always the Marquee sign in back of the stage..... it was something special to play on that stage, knowing the history of incredible bands that had played there before me.

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

I first went there to see a live band in the middle 60's, I can't remember who it was, maybe Time Box with Mike Patto... but it was cool for a kid from the suburbs to be in the Marquee Club, period!

- Do you remember if the first time you ever played at the Marquee was with Freddie Mac's Extravaganza in 1969? What do you remember about the first time you played there?

It was with Freddie, and of course we had a go-go dancer, I have photos of one of the Marquee gigs with her, she was the baritone sax player's wife. In retrospect it's hilariously funny, but that's the way it was. We just threw the show together, you never knew who was going to be on stage in that band on any particular night. Quite often we had Carl Douglas, (Kung Fu fighting) on lead vocals! Sometimes we had an eight piece horn section. It could get amazing.

Mick Clarke

Freddie Mac's Extravaganza at The Marquee, circa 1969

- Sadly, I don't have any records from any of the Freddie Mac's Extravaganza gigs at the Marquee. As many other supporting acts, they were not advertised by the club. Can you remember more or less how many times did you played at The Marquee with the band and which artists did you supported?

I don't remember if we were even opening for anyone, we often were the only band that night. We played there many times. They would do a special "dance night" there, and we would play.

- In 1970, you formed a new band called Orang Utan with other members from Freddie Mac's Extravaganza and released a self-titled album. Did you ever play at the Marquee?

I don't believe Orang Utan ever played the Marquee, we played all over London and the south east of the UK.

- How was your relationship with the managers of the club, John Gee and later Jack Barrie?

John Gee was a close friend of my girlfriend (later wife) Jacki. John was a nice guy, but I didn't know him that well. Jack used to run the bar next door (La Chasse), and we knew him from our regular drinking excursions upstairs!

- There's a curious story about you becoming the Marquee's "Official" 10 millionth customer. Is that right?

Jacki and I were waiting in line to get in the club one evening, and along came TV cameras etc... and we were announced as the 10 millionth customers. We won a trip to the Windsor rock festival, limos, hotels etc. It was plenty of fun, but whether we really were the 10 millionth or not, I wonder.

- Your girlfriend at the time, Jacki, she used to be the fan club secretary for The Syn, who were another very popular band at the Marquee in the late 60's. Which was your relationship with them? Do you remember seeing them playing at the club?

I got to know Chris Squire, Peter Banks and Andrew Jackman from The Syn. The two former went on the form Yes.

- You have played with some of the most talented blues and rock musicians throughout your career, including John Entwistle, Jeff Beck, Chuck Berry, Hudson and Ford. Do you remember seeing any of them at the Marquee before working with them?

Chuck Berry and John Entwistle. I saw them both at the Marquee. Chuck got into a fist fight over his girlfriend in the bar. Quite an odd evening as I remember. John was, as always, amazing. And loud!

- In the 80's, you moved to the US and later worked with Long John Baldry and toured with his band around US and Canada. What do you remember about Baldry's Marquee days?

I played with John Baldry from 1978 till 1980, but I don't remember seeing him perform at the Marquee.

- As a member of the audience at the Marquee, which bands or gigs do you remember especially?

This was a great time for British music, and for the Marquee. There were several bands that had residencies at the club. Although I don't remember the specific nights, you could catch The Nice (with Kieth Emerson) on a Monday night, Ten Years After (with Alvin Lee) on a Tuesday, Jethro Tull on a Wednesday, Yes on a Thursday, and special acts filled the weekend, usually someone from the US, or a big name band from the UK. You have to remember that in those days, these afore mentioned bands were just starting out! It was incredible. The thing that always amazed me was the many gigs I went to see these incredible bands where almost nobody showed up! Of all the shows I saw there, I have to say The Who put on one of the best I ever saw, as part of the Marquee's anniversary celebrations. Another was the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with The Nice as an opening act!! Amazing. Is there anything today that could top that?

- Did you ever visit the Marquee club or keep in touch with people from the club after you moved to the US?

No.

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

It's another sign that people know nothing about the meaning of the word "heritage".

- Do you remember drinking with other bands at the Ship pub?

They say if you remember, you weren't there...

- Have you ever told your children about the Marquee club days?

Oh yes.

- 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?

The Marquee was the club where I first saw what I would call "The Real Deal" in bands. I remember many nights where I realised just what live music was supposed to do. Thrill you. Bring out your emotions. It underlined what I knew I wanted to do. Play music. For me there's nothing else that can come close, and my experiences enjoying live music at the Marquee definitely was part of that.

Interview by K. Barroso, November, 2006.
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