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

Interview with Paddy Corea of Demon Fuzz

Paddy Corea at The Marquee Club

Sax and flute player Paddy Corea played extensively at The Marquee Club from 1968 to 1972 as a member of several bands, including Demon Fuzz, Blue Rivers & The Maroons, and Moon Indigo.

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

The old club in Oxford St. before moving to Wardour St.. And names like Humphry Littleton, Alexis Korner, Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, Jack Bruce, Tubby Hayes, Joe Harriot and Shake Keane, and lots of others.

Which are your dearest memories about the Oxford street days?

The old Marquee was an older and tamer crowd. The new Marquee in Wardour St. was where the kids came to look and learn to dance and listen and jump to the new music although the club was more rock oriented. The old Marquee was more trad jazz oriented (bands like Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, Humphry Littleton, Alexis Korner (we called him corn flakes) and sometime mod jazz by Bill Le Sage Quartet or Shake Keane/Joe Harriot Quintet.

I must say The Marquee was a soft/tame crowd compared to the Flamingo and the Q Club, even Tiles in Oxford St. and the Bag O' Nails owned by Rick and Johnny Gunnel were more raucus.

With Blue Rivers & The Maroons you had a Sunday residence in 1968 and you were one of the pioneers of the ska live scene in London. What do you remember about the reaction of the audience to your sound?

I think the London kids, especially those who hung out with West Indians, were somewhat hip to our sound. Blue Rivers And The Maroons didn't play only ska, we were a raw soul band. Not the Motown soft string soul that BBC peddled. We did a lot of material from the small labels of the South (USA). The kids from out of town were a bit confused. They were looking for the stuff they heard on BBC radio and we didn't play that. Rivers prided himself in trying not to be like the rest. At that time in London every black man who had a voice wanted to be a "soul" singer and very few of them could cut it. I remember Ronnie Jones, Gino Washington, Georgie Fame, Zoot Money (both white), Sugar & Dandy, and a few others who were by far the better crop.

At The Marquee, you used to play music with black roots. Do you remember if you especially artracted a black audience to the club?

The Marquee, like most London clubs at the time, had a mixed audience. Remember it was West Indians who opened up the eyes, ears and minds of the British public to, not only ska but the funky jazz of the period especially Blue Note, Atlantic and Riverside labels and to what became known as the disco. Remember the British were digging Lonnie Donnegan and that stuff and in the early 60's came Cliff Richards & The Shadows then we jammed it up with the funky. The first real DJ's in the clubs with sound systems were West Indians. Men like the legendary Count Suckle, Duke Vin, Count BIBs, Count Ossie and many more. And there were bands like Jimmy James And TheVagabonds just up from the West Indies with hot stuff and fronted by Count Prince Miller and Jimmy James. And also Jackie Edwards (Mr mellow) and Laurel Aitken, then Prince Buster, and Derryk Morgan came to visit.

As a member of the audience at The Marquee Club, is there any band that you remember especially?

They were all good. They were all the catalyst for my musical development.

Can you remember who got your gigs at the club?

The legendary Ziggy Jackson. And the precursor to The Marquee residency was the Wilson Pickett tour. The Maroons was the backup band for Wilson Pickett on his first UK tour. We rehearsed for 1 day only at Tiles club with Wilson Pickett and hit the road. He was impressed that the band had his music down so tight and clean. He was a slave driver but it did us a lot of good in that it opened us up to the way the yanks did their "thing" on stage. Obviously we adopted some of his "style". "Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally" were his biggest thing at the time.

What is your memory about Ziggy Jackson? Did he used to hang around The Marquee club?

Ziggy didn't "club" much unless it was to hear a new group or a business related visit. He still owes us money. He even sold the rights of Blue Rivers and the Maroons LP and never gave us a dime (this was common to most black bands then).

Blue Rivers and Paddy Corea at The Marquee Club

Blue Rivers and paddy Corea at the dressing room of The Marquee Club, 1969

Can you remember if you or anybody else from your band ever signed your name on the walls of The Marquee's dressing room?

Most definitely! A chick signed me as Sexy Sax in the dressing room and I signed it in the toilet also.

Did you ever visit The Marquee Club or keep in touch with people from the club after you quit playing there?

Once or twice.

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

I didn't know this happened.

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, like the Flamingo, gave a voice a platform for bands that normally couldn't and wouldn't have been heard otherwise. Most of the bands that played the club were not run of the mill disco or dance music. We were allowed to indulge ourselves with our brand of music. That is a very healthy component of musical development.

Interview by K. Barroso, February 2008.
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