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Legendary Live Music Venues Gone but not Forgotten

Andy Robertson

With the current pandemic having a dire effect on all music venues in the UK the warnings voiced by those in the industry seem to be falling on deaf ears. History shows that once a venue closes it rarely resurfaces and can be lost forever. Here are a few reminders of famous British music venues lost but not forgotten.

Looking at the history of music venues in the UK that have closed in the last forty years or so it is quickly apparent that just about every famous artist and musician has played at one or more of the handful of venues noted below. The reasons for closure are wide and varied and it is sad yet nostalgic to take a look at the most well-known venues, gone but not forgotten. 

The Roxy - London.
Situated in Covent Garden this tiny (seedy) club opened at the end of 1976, it closed after just over a year in 1978. Despite its short lifespan the club featured some of the most influential and
well-known punk and new wave bands of that time and resulted in multiple live album releases. Still recognised as the most significant venue for the punk movement of the late seventies, it’s now a Speedo shop.

Turnmills - London.
Primarily a nightclub rather than a live music venue the club in Clerkenwell was one of the capital’s most well-known techno EDM clubs. It closed in 2008 after the lease expired and has since been demolished to make way for an office block. 

The Nashville Rooms - London.
Popular for big name bands of the seventies the Nashville Rooms featured acts that looked like a who's who of rock music. The Kensington venue closed in 1980 and was reopened as a regular pub.

The Astoria Theatre - London.
Hosting a long string of world-famous artists for years the live music venue was closed in 2009 to make way for the new Crossrail project, it’s currently a large hole in the ground.

The Rock Garden - London.
One of Covent Garden’s most well known live music venues the Rock Garden opened in 1978 and hosted over 30,000 acts before closing in 2008, It’s now an Apple Store.

The Marquee club - London.
The famous name venue was actually located in multiple locations but closed for good in 2012, the last location in Soho was demolished to make way for a swanky restaurant.

The Hammersmith Palais - London.
One of London's largest and most well-known live music venues it closed 2007 after local councillors made the decision to close it. It was demolished soon after.

The Rainbow Theatre London.
Located in Finsbury Park the venue was popular in the late seventies for bands of that era, it closed in 1981 after a preservation order made the upkeep uneconomical. It did however reopen a few years later as a church.

The Hacienda - Manchester.
The legendary rave and house music venue closed in 1997 because of constant licensing and drug related issues combined with huge ongoing losses. It was demolished soon after closing and replaced with a new block of apartments bearing the same name.

The Boardwalk - Sheffield.
In existence since the 1930s this venue has hosted some of the world's most famous artists and musicians but went into administration in 2010. It has reopened as a drum 'n' bass club. 

The Cockpit - Leeds.
A small cliquey club that was forced to close in 2014 due to the building's unsafe structure.

The Picture House (The Caley Palais) - Edinburgh.
Scotland's most well-known music venue was closed by the site owners in 2013 for refurbishment but did not reopen as a live music venue rather it was subsequently reopened as a Weatherspoon's pub.

Anyone with an interest in live music performances can probably remember seeing their favourite band or musician at a venue that has since closed with only memories left. The list above is but a handful of the number of legendary venues that have closed over the years and it is easy to forget how many have gone. The venue industry needs the support of the government and industry bodies to ensure the survival of the venues we still have left.

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Andy Robertson
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