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

Interview with DJ Stewart Carolan

Stewart Carolan

Born Stewart Herbert Patrick Carolan on the 28th of June 1956 in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, Stewart Carolan was a resident DJ and member of the staff at The Marquee Club in 1974, under the management of Jack Barrie and Ulrik Prutz.

Stewart started working for The Marquee in early '74, initially collecting used glasses at the club and in the cloakroom. He later started doing DJ sessions at the club as a replacement for the resident DJ's Ian Fleming, Jerry Floyd and Mark Poppins.

Stewart Carolan quit his job at The Marquee in December '74 and started working for Richard Branson's Virgin Records. In 1977, he left the job and went to North East London Polytechnic and studied for a Diploma in Higher Education. He has lived in different countries, including Greece, France and Austria, where he created his own wholesale business. Stewart lives now between London and Crete. From 1987 until recently, he has also performed as a musician (guitar, piano, and vocals) in small venues all over Europe.. talked to Stewart about his memories on the Marquee days. Happy memories of freedom and great music.

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

Nostalgic, tearful happy memories of freedom and great music.

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

Not exactly. More like an overall experience. A phase of time.

-How did you get the job at The Marquee?

Well... I used to go there a lot and I got to know the people that worked there on a regular basis, as you would if you went there every night, and little by little I started working there picking up glasses and then in the cloakroom.

-Can you describe how would be a typical working day at The Marquee?

Like any club it had to be ready for the customers. So it was cleaned (swept) and the bar staff got the bars ready as they would, and the security people were at their posts back door, etc. Generally about one hour before the opening. Finishing in the early hours after the bands had been kicked out took a lot of doing some times and a lot of shouting Generally 'fuck off NOW!' Because they wanted to stay there all night but we wanted to go home or to another club.

-So your regular schedule was from 6 to...?

6 to 12 or 1 in the morning, as I remember it.

-When you worked at the cloakroom, do you remember picking up the cloths for many famous people?

I'd seen Rod Stewart, the previous evening on TV in a Green satin suit. He walked by this time in a white satin suit so I said to him: 'Rod you looked better in the Green!' He turned round to me very campily and said 'Oh do you really think so!' He-he. I thought: 'What a poser!'

-I think Rod was a regular goer at the Marquee.

Oh God, yes... he was. There were lots of famous and not so famous people, and lots of pretty girls... And Jon Anderson of Yes, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, who I talked to. He was completley out of his head as I was taking to him and his eyes were bulging. Ha, ha.

Jon Anderson just confused me with all of his talk... What the F**K was all that about? Some extra-terrestrial crap I could not get my head around it. I was looking at him and right through him... nice man though... friendly and took the time to talk to you!

-By 1974 Yes were not playing the club anymore, so I guess he would keep visiting the Marquee Club.

Yes, he did, as you do... met up with friends music biz people, etc. Keith Moon of The Who was not playing at the club in 1974. The Who were massive by then... but he popped in one night! Out of his head, going around shaking hands and introducing himself to everyone. I got the feeling he was avery lonely man but I read later he used to look for an unfortunate drinking buddy!

-You also worked doing DJ sessions at the club as a replacement for the resident DJ's. How did you move from the cloakroom to the DJ booth?

I got to know the three DJ's at that time, when they were in the club. They were Jerry Floyd, Ian Flemming and Mark Poppins. I did not become a main DJ, I was just there when they could not make an evening and so I got to spin the discs. Great fun it was too! I was a helping hand in the club, a floating worker too. Jerry Floyd was a big DJ at that time. Played festivals with John Peel etc.

-I guess that would also give you some extra chances to pick up girls at the club.

Well yes that was nice! (wink). One of the perks of the job... I got lots of offers, but I was more into music and bands I was not into sex. That would come later. I drove the girls and gays crazy!

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

No, fuck that! I was not a marketeer. I played great rock music by great established bands... Cream, Jethro Tull, etc... None of that unknown band's stuff. That could wait for Jerry Floyd, he played all that stuff, not too bad really (wink). Sometimes I played unknown stuff, but not often. I did have lots of records from record companies plugging new bands etc. But I played pretty much what I wanted to play with no pressure from anyone to do otherwise.

-Some of the most important artists playing at The Marquee that year were Rory Gallagher, The Heavy Metal Kids, Camel, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest. Do you remember any of them?

Wow! yes, of course. Rory Gallagher he was great F***ing great, made your soul move with just him, his bass player and drummer. Can't remember seeing or hearing Judas Priest... Camel rings a bell.

-I've heard John Lennon used to go to The Marquee to see Roy Gallagher.

Maybe. I did not see John Lennon myself. Gallagher was loved and played from his soul. He was a consummate guitarist and that battered guitar he played! Love when he played. There was band called Beckett that I liked too. The singer Terry Slesser was a lovely guy and went on to play in Paul Kossoff's band, they played at Reading that year and they were wonderful. As I remember, they brought the crowd to their feet, which was no mean feat at that time of day as everyone was stoned.

There were a lot of talented musicians around the Marquee at that time, always have been. I remember Steve Hackett of Genesis came in one night. I ended up talking to him watching a band. I think he wanted my views to do some research on what is popular. I remember him asking me in a derogatory way: 'Do you like this band?" i.e 'They are shit!' and I replied: 'Well, yes, I do'. Nice man though... Yes, friendly enough but he might have had a secret agenda with you (grin).

-He didn't play anymore at The Marquee at the time. Did you used to so him or other members from Genesis around very often?

Genesis at the club? No. I can't remember seeing Peter Gabriel but he may have worn a disguise from the 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway'! He, he. All those balloons!

Elton John once performed a great song there! Unannounced, he turned up one evening and sang with the Average White band "I Heard It Through The Grapevine". It we absolutely out of this world! He was loving it. I can see it before me now. The funky Elton jumping around on the left side of the stage. Great magical moment! The Average White Band had had that hit 'Pick Up The Pieces', so they were big. I remember hearing Michael Schenker tuning up and letting rip on his Flying Vee guitar. Phew! Fireworks coming out of that guitar! The Sharks... Great band!

I do remember introducing Billy Connolly for a live recoding at the club. The problem was I had taken some LSD the day before and I could barely say his name! He, he. It was so funny! I think I got it out finally. That will teach him... He was a banjo player then and not a full time comedian. I did not take LSD all the time mind you... I did then, okay. I hope that is clear.

I read that the capacity of the Marquee on a normal evening was about 300. I cannot believe that over 1,000 people squeezed into the club for Jimi Hendrix and The Heavy Metal Kids. Impossible, I say... is that true?

-At least that's what they say, and probably more.

It would have been very tight and hot! Nice way to meet the girls though! If you saw the room of the club where the bands played 200-300 would be pushing it.

-How much is true about this legend about the groupies and sexy tourists at the Marquee?

Sex, drugs, music... whatever you wanted it was there... I was always being propositioned... What is a sexy tourist? Sorry I don't get that?

-Well, girls from Germany and other European countries, that's what the legend says.

Yes, there were groupies, but there were a lot of great people around too... For the music, not the drugs or the sex. I was a case in point. It did not interest me at that time. Oh, OK, maybe there were German girls but, so what? There were lots of English music lovers there too. Yes, you could pick up a girl or boy if that is what you wanted to and I'm sure many people did! But this was The Marquee. You went there to hear and see great music by great musicians. Sex was a part of it all, I guess, but from my perspective as a 17 year old I was there for the music.

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

He was the boss... I did what he asked. Professional, but he was friendly enough. He loved music too.

-You have mentioned working at the Marquee for a German manager called ?lle. What do you remember about him?

Ullie was working for Jack Barrie, but he ran the club in the evening. Checked the money payed the bands, etc. Ullie was easy to work with. Loved music too. I cannot remember where he was from. Sorry.

-There used to be a German booking manager at the club called Ulrik Prutz, do you think it could be the same person?

Yes, it seems logical. Ulrick... Ulli. Yes.

-During the time you worked at The Marquee there was another guy working with you called Pete Dobbie, right?

He worked on the back door for security and collected glasses in the club as well as being a very nice guy and a good friend of mine. Yes, Pete a very nice guy. A good friend of mine too at that time.

-Did you become friend with any of the musicians that were performing at the Marquee during those days?

Friends with the bands? Funnily enough, not really. More to go to clubs and bars afterwards: Ronnie Scotts disco (above Ronnie Scott's Jazz club in Frith Street). Although I was always happy to see the bands when they came to the club on a regular basis. Terry from Beckett, etc.

-Do you remember going to the Ship pub, where all the artists would meet for a drink?

No. I had no time to drink there! Do you know something? I do not think I have ever had a drink there. I know where it is and its history and all that, where musicians used to go before the gig etc. I went to work and could drink there. Why would I need to go to The Ship and pay for a drink? I would know who would be playing in the club because I was there! Economic reality! (wink)

-You were lucky enough just because four years before there was no alcohol at the club.

Well life is all about timing, isn't it?

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

I was not in the country, so I did not know about it at all. When I did see that shit restaurant in its place I was gobsmacked. Life goes on... The memories will live in my head forever and now here. I heard it was due to the walls leaning outwards. That Hendrix and The Who... the music literally destroyed the Marquee club! It was always F***ing loud, the only way to listen to music in The Marquee.

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

I don't have children but I've told to my friends. When we are anywhere near Wardour St. I get them to touch the bricks and give them some stories.

-In fact, what used to be the cloakroom is still there.

What? Really? The cloakroom is still there?

-Not exactly the cloakroom, but the site where it used to be, because it's part of the apartments, isn't it? Maybe I'm wrong.

Yes, the layout is pretty much the same. It's of more interest to go to the back entrance, many memories.

-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?

Inexpressible in words. How do you define music in words? All those great musicians and bands... the memories of the wonderful happy times. The Marquee was a refuge and club for music lovers. You had to have been there or been square. I am glad I was.

Interview by K. Barroso, February 2007.
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