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

John Gee (manager)

john-gee

Manager of the Marquee club from 1968 1970, John Gee is one of key figures of the club who turned the focus of the club to new music styles. Often described as a Frank Sinatra's freak who had no appreciation for new styles of music, John Gee was in fact a man completely committed to the development of jazz music in the UK and was the one who bid for it's fusion with new forms of music. Under the banner of "New Paths", Gee gave an opportunity to bands like Jethro Tull , Circus and King Crimson on the Sunday nights of 1969.

The figure of John Gee is also associated with the birth of the rhythm and blues days in London. Gee became secretary of the club in 1968 and a year later, under his influence, the club had extended it's offer from Thursdays to a three night schedule (Monday, Thrusday and Sunday).

During the early sixties, a small group of very young musicians discovered music imported from the U.S. from blues legends like Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf and Freddie King, and the new generation of rhythm and blues masters such as Muddy Waters, and the new young generation of British blues talents such as Eric Clapton, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones.

Jethro Tull

In 1968, Jethro Tull recorded the jazzy instrumental "One for John Gee", released as a B side of the "Song For Jeffrey" single, as a personal tribute to the manager of the club who supported and encouraged the band enormously.

John Gee was also famous for his strict management of the Marquee club, which probably made a success of it. Alvin Lee of Tean years After remembers about their first audition for Gee: "We were all very scared of John Gee. He was very strict you know. He'd tell all the bands they had to be in the dressing room a quarter of an hour before they were due on. And he used to time the road managers at work."

In January 1970, John Gee retired from the club's charge and was replaced by Jack Barrie, who was the manager of a popular nearby drinking club called La Chasse.

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I do remember the periods in the sixties when I did often pay at visit to london and the friday (blues) night in particular at Wardour Street. Me and my, by that time, girlfriend often stand in a quee on friday night, sometimes even at Meard Street to make sure we could see groups like Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After, John Mayall and so on. When we were finally inside we waited in a packed crowd till it all began. I do remember that when it started they always played “Rat Race” an instrumental by the Righteous Brothers Band. And when that number was finished John C. Gee came on stage and always started with the still famous words “Good Evening At The Marquee”.

John thanks for everyhing. We did already miss you when you were not there in the seventies because you started a career as a music consultant. Alas, citating a track of Cream,“Those were the days”. Best wishes to you and I still do have the first vinyl album by Ten Years After with your comments at the backside, that you discovered them and found their music “so bloody marvelous”

Fred, 21 Aug 2011.

At the age of 15 I was fortunate to work with some older guys, passionate and knowledgeable music fans, who introduced me to the Marquee in the spring of 1968. This thrust me at an early age into the vibrant, colourful music scene of that era. No bar in those days meant that a young music fan could sit at the feet of musicians that would later be only seen in very big venues. The Marquee was a small intimate venue where you could be blown away by the likes of Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Taste, The Nice, etc., etc.

John Gee was the man who would introduce each act and seemed to me a perfect gentleman. His smooth, cultured voice was very reassuring for a kid who was still young and surrounded by London’s hairy community. Only having very modest refreshment facilities in those days, John would always draw the audience’s attention to the availability of Mars Bars that were on sale at the rear of the club. This became something of a joke and John would often promote these with some humour. I remember him often saying “ I understand that these are Marianne Faithful’s favourite line of confectionary”, alluding to a rumour/urban myth about alleged sexual antics involving Mars Bars with Mick Jagger, popular at that time. Fantastic memories, too many to mention here but John Gee was THE man who introduced all these legendary acts. He was the public face of the club, Mr. Marquee himself. Bless him!!!

Lester Cowell, 15 Feb 2011.

I used to sit in front of John Gee’s window on Friday and Saturday nights and mostly he’d trip over someone whose legs were stretched out at the wrong time.

Thaks to John the Marquee was the most quality-reliable venue in London.

Brian Finn, 24 Sept 2008.