UFO Club

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Coordinates: 51°31′06″N 0°07′55″W / 51.518354°N 0.132073°W / 51.518354; -0.132073

UFOria

The UFO Club was a famous but short-lived UK underground club in London during the 1960s, venue of performances by many of the top bands of the day.

History[edit]

The UFO Club (pronounced Yoof-oh) was founded by John Hopkins (usually known as "Hoppy") and Joe Boyd in an Irish dancehall called the "Blarney Club" in the basement of 31 Tottenham Court Road, under the Gala Berkeley Cinema. It opened on Dec. 23, 1966. Initially the club was advertised as "UFO Presents Nite Tripper". This had been because Boyd and Hopkins could not decide on "UFO" or "Nite Tripper" as a name for their club.[1] Eventually they settled on "UFO".

Soft Machine and Pink Floyd were booked for the first two Fridays, and then re-engaged as the club carried on into 1967 after its initial success. Initial events combined live music with light shows, avant garde films and slide shows, and dance troupes.

Pink Floyd's tenure at UFO was short run. As their fame grew they were able to play bigger venues for higher fees. Boyd protested that their increasing fame was largely due to the success of UFO, but the band's management wanted to move on and an agreement was made for just three more Floyd performances at UFO, at an increased fee.

Hopkins and Boyd had to cast around for a new "house band" for UFO. They settled on Soft Machine but also started booking other acts who were attracted by the club's reputation. Amongst them were The Incredible String Band, Arthur Brown, Tomorrow, and Procol Harum, who played there when "A Whiter Shade of Pale" was No 1 in the charts.

Were All Doomed!!!

An advertisement featuring the Flammarion engraving in the Feb 13–26 issue of The International Times for "UfOria! Festival of Love 10.30 till dawn" [sic] announced "feb.10 — the bonzo dog doodah band • flix–dalibunuelginger johnson african drums" as well as "feb 17 — soft machinemark boyle projections • movies • food • erogenius 3 + 4".

Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, consisting of Michael English and Nigel Waymouth, designed psychedelic posters to advertise events. The food was macrobiotic and included brown rice rissoles, vegetarian stuffed vine leaves and felafel.

Jack Braceland's (Fiveacres Lights) created some of the light shows with equipment which ranged from 16mm projection of what we would now call 'art house' films (often projected sideways or projected into smoke) or 5 Kw 'Pani's' (effects projectors) borrowed from Samuelsons at Pinewood or Elstree film studios (or Strand Electric at Vauxhall) to overhead projectors with transparent trays borrowed from refrigerators and filled with water/indian ink/beer/whatever. A favorite was to use 'Aldis' slide projectors with dual layer 2×2 glass specimen slides with basic designs created with wax crayons (drawn by Lou – the oft naked lady) and then various substances introduced with syringes – indian inks, snot, semen – in fact anything of imiscible viscosities. Bubbles made by injecting air between the glass plates which were then squeezed (by a pair of long nose pliers – in time to the music) would send folks even further off their heads!

The UFO Club’s success was its downfall — being too small to accommodate the increasing number of visitors. If a big name such as Jeff Beck was playing, UFO broke even, but the club usually lost money. In October 1967 the UFO Club at the Roundhouse folded.[citation needed]

UFO Club billings[edit]

Poster for Pink Floyd at the CIA-UFO club, July 28, 1967, by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat

References[edit]

  1. ^ Boyd, Joe, White Bicycles - Making Music in the 1960s, Serpent's Tail, 2006. ISBN 1-85242-910-0
  2. ^ a b c d Jones, Malcolm (2003). "The Making of The Madcap Laughs" (21st Anniversary ed.). Brain Damage. p. 27. 
  3. ^ a b Jones, Malcolm (2003). "The Making of The Madcap Laughs" (21st Anniversary ed.). Brain Damage. p. 28. 
  4. ^ a b c Jones, Malcolm (2003). "The Making of The Madcap Laughs" (21st Anniversary ed.). Brain Damage. p. 29. 
  5. ^ Jones, Malcolm (2003). "The Making of The Madcap Laughs" (21st Anniversary ed.). Brain Damage. p. 30. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Miles, Barry: In the Sixties. (London 2002)
  • Green, Jonathon: Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground, 1961-71 (London 1998)
  • Saunders, William Jimi Hendrix London Roaring Forties Press. 2010. ISBN 978-0-9843165-1-9