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

Interview with Ray H, staff member

Ray H

Ray H was a member of the staff at The Marquee Club between from 1979 to 1982, working as a glass collector and back door minder. Before that, Ray wrote for ?Jamming? Magazine and was an appointed pseudo-editor of ?Sniffin? Glue? magazine and interviewing Pete Townshend, Johnny Rotten and John Peel, amongst others. talked to Ray about his memories on the Marquee days.

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

I think of the exterior of the club in Wardour Street.

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

I first started going to The Marquee in 1978. First band I saw there was Ultravox! This was the original line-up with John Foxx and Stevie Shears, not the awful MkII version with Midge Ure and all that 'Vienna' rubbish. I eventually got to know one of the DJs, a guy called Jerry Floyd. Jerry and I became firm friends and he eventually got me a job there in September 1979. He had just DJd at the Reading Festival (with John Peel from BBC Radio One, plus another Marquee DJ called Ian Fleming) and I had worked up onstage with him, carting about his (very heavy) plastic bread trays of LPs and minding his records from dawn till dusk, then carrying them back to the beer tent, where the head barman stored them overnight. Anyway, Jerry got me the job at The Marquee and I became an official club 'potman', or glass collector. I had just turned from punk to skinhead and it was rather a novelty for the other staff.

-After working at the club collecting used glasses you worked later as a back-door minder. Can you describe what kind of work would do?

I didn't enjoy glass collecting and eventually, I got the opportunity to take over the back door. This was a boring and lonely job, sat on a beer crate, at the end of the corridor that housed the men's toilets! It was dull, dull, dull. However, I had got away from crawling round people's feet, picking up glasses (all plastic, of course) and I didn't miss that at all!

-During the period that you worked at The Marquee Jack Barrie was the manager of the club. What was your relationship with him?

The two club managers were Nigel Hutchings and Uli (Ulrik Prutz). I got on with both of them, although Uli was more easygoing. Nigel could be a little hard-nosed at times, although I felt that this was a front. Jack Barrie was their boss. Jack was quite a strict guy, and on the rare occasion that Nigel and Uli were both absent at the same time, Jack would manage the club. He would work the staff hard and took no nonsense. Although I would usually groan inwardly when he was prowling about, looking for fault, I respected him.

The bouncers were 'Big John' and Keith. John worked 6 or 7 nights a week and Keith came in for busy or potentially troublesome nights. John worked at the club during the day too, cleaning. Keith was a lift engineer with Otis Lifts. John had a very gruff exterior, but was an immensely likable man, when you got to know him. He had no malice, unlike the bouncers at the Music Machine (now Camden Palace) the other music club that I worked at.

-How different was the atmosphere from the Music Machine to The Marquee?

Well, The Marquee was very small and intimate. The Music Machine was large, an old theatre. The atmosphere was more foreboding at the Music Machine. The bouncers were infamous.

At The Marquee, on sell-out nights, both bouncers used to let punters in the back door at a premium rate. They made a lot of extra money that way. I went along with it for an extra few pounds. However, Nigel eventually became wise to it and a warning was issued. I refused Keith one night and it led to a confrontation. Luckily, it blew over. Eventually, Uli left and went to manage 'The Venue' in Victoria. An eminently dislikable guy called Ian 'Bush' Telfer took over. None of us could stand him. He was a sarcastic, greasy individual.

I had some friends at the time, mostly itinerant Glaswegian punks, all squatting in Brixton. I would usually sleep over at their squat most nights, whilst holding down a day job at the BBC! They were Paul McAvoy, his brother Stephen 'Fibro' McAvoy, Steven 'Jimmy' Jamieson, and Pip 'ZaZa' Reechan. I got them all jobs there. Paul and I were sacked by Nigel circa 1980 for a misdemeanor, but I was eventually reinstated by Telfer, who later sacked me for disobeying one of his tedious and belittling commands. Paul was later reinstated, and promoted to bar manager. Later, when Nigel left, Paul became one of the two club managers. Paul may feel willing to let you know more about this era. I know he disliked Telfer intently.

-Do you remember having any relationship with Harold Pendleton, the owner of the club?

We hardly ever saw the Pendleton's, Harold or Barbara. They took no active 'hands on' part in managing club nights, and showed no interest in the club staff. Tony Stratton-Smith would usually sit at the front bar with Jack (Barrie) most evenings. He never spoke with me, but always seemed an amiable sort of guy.

-Do you remember any particular incidents happening at the club's back-door?

Always on troublesome nights, i.e., mod or punk gigs or sell-out nights. Could be anything, from punters trying to let their mates in free, or people outside, trying to hustle their way in through the exit. Naturally, there was violence in the club at times. There are misunderstandings and myths about the worst fights. I was there for the worst two in that era, late 70's to early 80's.

-Tony Perfect from Angelic Upstarts told me about it.

I read it, and he is not accurate. I used to roadie for his band!

One was at a Secret Affair gig. A load of skinheads came down to beat up mods (soft targets, you'd never see skins go down to Brixton and pick on big, hefty blacks). At the Secret Affair gig, a skip was outside in the street, full of building materials, as a nearby film studio was being renovated. A nightmare! The skins had all the ammo they needed to smash up the exterior and barge into the club! I had some police truncheons hidden in the cloakroom for such eventualities and the bouncers -John and Keith- borrowed these. However, they made a severe tactical error. Some skins had infiltrated the crowd in front of the stage and a fight broke out. John and Keith waded in with my truncheons. John had my mounted police truncheon, about the length of a baseball bat. Any fool knows that truncheons are for use at a distance, not in a tight-knit crowd. Of course, they had their truncheons taken off them and they got a beating. I say their truncheons, they were in fact mine!

Last time my mounted police truncheon was seen that night... was when Ian Paige, the Secret Affair singer, had got hold of it and was brandishing it at the crowd... shouting through the mike something like: 'It's about time people stopped bringing things like this to our gigs!' It was then stored in their management agency office, waiting for some gullible fool to claim it. I didn't, of course!

-You lost a pice of memorabilia that you could have sold on Ebay today!

No! You can't sell truncheons on eBay. Ironically, I run a business on eBay UK.

The other big punch up was when The Jam played a secret gig as John's Boys in 1980. They were huge then and no longer played clubs like The Marquee. This led to the obligatory skins VS mods confrontation. As for the Angelic Upstarts, we knew them personally. They were great guys, really likable. When I was working at the BBC, I got tickets to see them recorded live for Radio One 'In Concert'. On the CD, you can hear me blowing my Metropolitan Police 'The Thunderer' whistle when they went offstage! By this time, Sham 69 had become a dreary pop band and had split up finally (for about the 4th time). So, skins needed a new band to follow around and it became the Upstarts. Don't know why, since, just like Sham, the Upstarts were not skins themselves. There were always punch-ups at their gigs. They had to cancel a gig at the Nashville Rooms one night, after a huge skin had his shoulder badly gashed by a glass.

-What about Paul Weller, do you have any particular memory of him?

Interesting question. By 1979, Weller had become huge. He certainly never came to The Marquee to see bands. Then again, most of what went on at the club was absolute trash: heavy metal. Jack Barrie disliked punk intently and saw heavy metal as a trouble-free way to make money.

- Is that an impression from you or he told you so?

Always sensed it, but I saw a televised interview with Jack in, I think, the late 80's, when The Marquee was demolished. He said then, that he had disliked the whole punk thing.

Weller and I never met. I don't think we have anything in common. However, I have been into his music in a big way since 1977. Although, I lost interest after the first Jam album until 'The Style Council'. Weller's music has played a big part in my life for the past 20 years. I am NOT a fan. When I interviewed John Rotten, his PiL guitarist, Keith Levine was present. Keith told me that the very idea of being a fan was, in his mind, despicable. The idea of hanging around backstage doors, hoping for an autograph... looking up to someone in a band... I don't think that any of these so-called 'superstars' are better than me, in any way. Got no time for them at all.

-You remind me of this song by Rheingold 'Fan Fan Fanatic'.

Don't know it. I am completely depressed by almost all bands that have sprung up since punk. You name them, I find them dull...

-It's a song from 1982. Anyhow, talking about bands, some of the most important artists playing at The Marquee during the period you worked there were UK Subs, The Pretenders, Simple Minds, The Cure, Thompson Twins. Do you remember any of them in particular?

The UK Subs I loved. We used to follow them about. Always managed to blag backstage passes. I knew Charlie Harper very well. He nicked my first serious girlfriend off me, a punkette called Carol O'Hara. He wrote a song about her: 'Emotional Blackmail'.

The Pretenders always were completely boring. Still can't see any quality in their music. Simple Minds played there alright. About 10 people used to turn up. Pip 'ZaZa' Reechan always was a serious homophobe. When he found out that they were gay, he used to shout abuse at them on his way to the toilets and back.

The Cure had just about finished with The Marquee when I started working there. I don't recall the Thompson Twins at all. Then again, I had no interest in any tripe outfits like them. If ever there was a manufactured band... a white guy, a black guy, and a woman! Marketing Department's dream.

I do remember something else that may interest you. Monday or Tuesday nights were usually reserved for crap bands. The club had what were called 'residencies'. A crap band would headline each Monday or Tuesday night for a month. I remember one particular awful, dull, pop band that used to do residencies. You'd get about 15 people in to see them. They had nil talent, a shit image and duff songs. They were called U2. And they are still as dull, duff and shit now as they were then. As the great John Lydon once said: 'Bono? You mean Bozo!' Now THERE'S a man I do admire!

-You also worked at Reading Festival in 1979 and 1981, helping out Jerry. What did you do exactly?

'79, '80 and '81. He had just DJd at the Reading Festival (with John Peel from BBC Radio One, plus another Marquee DJ called Ian Fleming) and I had worked up onstage with him, carting about his (very heavy) plastic bread trays of LPs and minding his records from dawn till dusk, then carrying them back to the beer tent, where the head barman stored them overnight. Most people would have sen my job asa an immense privilege, being onstage just yards from all these so-called legends: AC/DC, Whitesnake, Cheap Trick... and the rest of the trash. I used to sit under the DJ decks with ear defenders on. These bands were awful, stereotypical, and tedious. Tax exiles, jetting from one tax haven to another. Chauffeur-driven cigars. And exactly the same as their counterparts from the previous decade, except that they had swopped flares for tight trousers. Of course, there have been some great heavy metal bands... Grand Funk Railroad springs to mind. I liked Led Zeppelin's 'IV' and some of the Pink Floyd albums. These guys had/have talent. The 80's heavy metal bands were just tired old copies of what had gone before. Trash, trash, trash, 500 foot pedals but couldn't play a note. So, so, sad that the world lost Hendrix so young.

Jerry Floyd managed 2 bands: The Teenbeats and Long Tall Shorty. Also a mod poet called Eddie Steady Go. I roadied for Long Tall Shorty for about 4 months in 1981. It was late night work and very tiring when you had work the next morning. Jerry died on 19th April 1985. It was due to alcoholism. He died alone in a bed-sit in Victoria. What really irked me is that none of his bands were at his funeral.

-That's very sad.

Be interesting to read Tony Perfect's reaction to that.

-Going back to The Marquee... how much is true about this legend about the groupies at The Marquee?

Groupies with the groups I don't really recall. But groupies with my mates -guys I got jobs at the club- absolutely. Paul McAvoy was the most promiscuous human being that I ever met. He must have had at least 100 girls in the 3 years ('79-'81). I knew him well. Maybe double that.

-Did you ever visit The Marquee club or keep in touch with people from the club after you quit the job?

After Paul and I were sacked by Nigel, I had nothing to do in the evenings. I used to hang around outside, chatting with my mates who were still there.

-Did you use to drink at The Ship pub around the corner?

No. Hated it. Horrible, squalid, dingy little khazi.

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

It is sad, but I guess one should only glance back at the past and focus on the present and future.

-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?

I learnt a lot about music, the artists, the genres. I made friends. I made enemies. I helped my friends get jobs. I soon became cynical about 'stardom'. Celebrities have since held little interest for me. Talking about it all again tonight in depth I realise that I still really miss Jerry Floyd.

Interview by K. Barroso, May 2007.
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