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

La Chasse Club

La Chasse club

La Chasse was one of the most important social spots of the musical scene during the late 60's in London. La Chasse became the most popular drinking club in Soho due of its proximity to the Marquee club. It was just a few numbers away from the it on the 1st floor at 100 Wardour St. club, above a betting shop, and it had the advantage that was offering alcohol drinks when the Marquee didn't have a license yet. So La Chasse, was just the place where musicians would go to fill the tank before and afterwards their gigs at the Marquee. At the "members only" club you could meet Phil Collins, Elton John, Ian Anderson, David Bowie, Jon Anderson, Robert Plant, all in the same room, sharing their contacts for a new gig, looking for a new replacement on their band, or just begging for a drink to fill their empty stomachs.

Legend has it that Keith Moon arriving to La Chasse by the fire escape after having climbed over the rooftops from the Who's offices in Old Compton Street.

Jack Barrie described the club himself: "It had been opened as a member's bar two or three years before I first went into the business. It was an old West End style club. I discovered it because the couple Bill & Jessie who used to run the Ship took me up there for a drink one night. I thought it was fantastic and took all my music biz friends there. After making it a roaring success I then foolishly put in a bid for the place. It probably cost me three times what I would have paid, Had I been more discreet. It had been a failing business. I made it a success and then bought it!"
(Close to the Edge, Chris Welch 1999)

La Chasse

La Chasse was opened by Jack Barrie in May 1967, after having worked at a Fish and Chips and later worked as a caterer for the National Jazz & Blues Festival in 1964. Barrie later eventually started working for the Marquee club as an assistant to manager John Gee and was an essential support to a new generation of British artists such as Led Zeppelin, Yes , Jethro Tull, Genesis, King Crimson and Rod Stewart. In January 1970 he replaced John Gee in the management of the Marquee club, who had retired from his charge.

La Chasse was on the first floor of the building, it was a tiny room smaller than anybody else's living room where no more than 30 people could fit in.

It just had a bar, a jukebox packed with the latest hits, a minimal decor with a couple of couches and a collection of framed caricatures of pop music figures on the walls. Music journalist Dan Hedges described it in a picturesque way: "It's up the creaky stairs, a hard knock at the door, and if you've got some reason to be there, you're in. Inside, it's like a shoe box, or the dumpy living room of a particularly uninspiring London flat. After the first ten people, it's standing room only. Dark. Cramped. Thick with cigarette smoke and the low rumble of the clientele over the crappy stereo. It's people making promises, people making deals, people bullshitting each other stiff about albums that never quite seem to get recorded, and coast-to-coast American tours that never quite seem to get off the ground. There's a couch or two if you're early enough, and a drink at the tiny bar will set you back the equivalent of a small bank loan". (Dan Hedges, "Yes, The Authorised Biography", 1981).

But the real charm about the place was the warmth welcoming of Jack Barrie and the fact that it's selection of regulars that included everyone who was in some way involved in the music business at the time, including musicians, managers, promoters and club owners.

One of the most famous stories in relationship with La Chasse is the birth of the band Yes. By 1967 the singer of the band, Jon Anderson was moving back from Munich after having been doing the German club circuit with his band, the Warriors. The rest of the band had already arrived to London a few months before and had established a friendship with Jack Barrie. In 1967, at his return to U.K., Jon Anderson landed at a platform of Victoria Station where he was welcomed back and picked by the Warriors keyboardist, Brian Chatton, and Jack Barrie. Jon Anderson started working immediately for Jack Barrie at La Chasse.

Jon Anderson Jack barrie

Jon Anderson and Jack Barrie

During this period he and Brian Chatton used to stay overnight at the club Chasse and Jon would sweep up the place and serve drinks to pay his living. One spring night Jack Barrie introduced Anderson to bass player Chris Squire and gave them a couple of beers to know each other, marking the beginning of Yes.

One of the personalities of London's music scene of the 60's and 70's who could be easily spotted at La Chasse was Tony Stratton-Smith, chairman of the influential independent record label Charisma Records. Stratton-Smith was a close friend of Jack Barrie and within the walls of La Chasse he met bands like Van Der Graaf Generator.

Sadly, La Chasse closed down in early 1970 when the Marquee club finally got a drinking license and Jack Barrie got in charge of the Marquee club. Si Cowe of Lindisfarne once said: "The real stories happened at La Chasse, just up the road, where the musicians and liggers ended up after the Marquee had closed!" Somehow I doubt we'll get to hear those tales!"

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