100 Club gets a little help from a friend

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

It takes a worthy cause to get an old Beatle on such a small stage.

Sir Paul McCartney braved snow and freezing winds to get to the 100 Club in Oxford Street, London's oldest live music venue, which is under threat of closure from rising rents.

It was a jazz venue from 1942, when diners in what was then a restaurant were treated to live music on Sunday evenings. As its popularity grew, the place was renamed the Humphrey Lyttleton Club in honour of its most popular performer.

Roger Horton, father of the club's current owner, took over in 1964, renamed it the 100 Club and widened the range of music.

The Beatles never performed there, of course, because they were such mega-stars that even football stadiums were not big enough to pack in their audiences, but many others did over the years, including The Who, The Clash and Oasis.

The rent was around £11,000 a year when Jeff Horton took over the club from his father in 1985. Now it is up to £166,000, and he says he cannot pay. But his plight has stimulated a lively campaign to preserve this small part of the capital's musical history.

It is thought to be the smallest venue that Paul McCartney and Wings have played in for a good 10 years. The £60 tickets sold out immediately; some were said to have fetched far more online.

"Do you wanna save the 100 Club?" Sir Paul called out to his tightly packed, ecstatic audience. Of course they did. That is why they were there.