Church finds life at Rainbow's end

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The Rainbow Theatre, one of London's most historic venues, has been sold to a mysterious Brazilian religious organisation for pounds 2.35m.

The Rainbow, previously known as the Astoria, in Finsbury Park, north London, also used to be a cinema before it closed in 1981, but was best known as one of Britain's greatest pop music venues.

It played host to The Beatles, David Bowie, Nat King Cole and The Clash, and was the venue where Rod Stewart kicked footballs into the crowd. The late Frank Zappa was attacked on stage by a deranged fan before he escaped to the Isle of Wight festival in 1970. And it was where 6,000 young fans of the Osmonds went on the rampage in 1973 when they discovered that the 2,500 capacity gig had sold out. The property group, Prior Kirschel Properties, which bought the Rainbow last October, yesterday announced it had exchanged contracts with the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a Brazilian organisation with bases in 25 countries. The organisation had tried to take over another rock venue, Brixton Academy in south London, as its British headquarters but it was bought by music promoters. The same promoters had previously been talking with PKP about buying and restoring the Rainbow.

The Universal Church - which has been rebuked by the Advertising Standards Authority for claiming its pastors could cure headaches, depression and insomnia - has kept a low profile since its interest in Brixton Academy was announced this summer.