The Apollo (Glasgow)

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The Apollo
Green’s Playhouse (1927-1973)
Address 126 Renfield Street (1973-1987)
(its demolition)
Scotland, United Kingdom
Owner George Green Ltd
Designation Music Venue
Capacity 3,500
Opened 5 September 1973
Closed 16 June 1985
Years active 12 Years
Architect John Fairweather

The Apollo was a music venue in Glasgow, Scotland, that operated in the city between September 1973 and its closure in June 1985. It was opened by Unicorn Leisure, on September 5, 1973, after acquiring a lease from the owners, George Green Ltd. It was then officially opened to the public on 8 September 1973 and its debut live performance, held on 5 and 6 September 1973, featured country singer-songwriter Johnny Cash. It also played host to folk singer-songwriter John Denver, who sold out 3 concerts.[1] While in operation, the venue hosted a number of popular music acts; however, due to the poor condition both structurally and ergonomically the building became a financial burden which led to its closure in 1985 and further demolition in September 1987. The Apollo was located in the same building as Green's Playhouse, a cinema and ballroom that operated from 1927 to 1973 at 126 Renfield Street in Glasgow's city centre, and is now occupied by Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew Street.


The Apollo, owned by Frank Lynch and Max Langdown, was the leading concert venue in Glasgow and Scotland throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being labelled "the greatest concert venue in UK rock history" by the Daily Record and Sunday Mail.[2] The cinema tradition was initially continued following the transition of the venue to the Apollo, but this became financially unviable and was discontinued.

The lease to the Apollo was held by Unicorn Leisure, the management company for comedian, Billy Connolly,[3] Midge Ure's band Salvation which was rebranded as Slik and singer, Christian; the company also operated many of Glasgow and Edinburgh's pubs, clubs and discothèques during the 1970s, including the White Elephant and the first ever 'Theme pub': the famous 'pop art' Muscular Arms.[citation needed]

The ballroom operated above the main concert auditorium, originally known as "Clouds", following various name changes that included "Satellite City" and "The Penthouse". The ballroom became a music venue for up-coming and relatively lesser-known contemporary bands, such as Simple Minds, Elvis Costello, Sham 69 and The Rich Kids. These were unable to attract a large enough paying audience to fill the concert venue.

Despite the Apollo's success as a music venue, the building was in a poor condition and its structure was gradually deteriorating; maintenance repairs were undertaken only on a "make-do" basis. In mid-1977, the owner of Unicorn Leisure relocated to Florida, in the United States, and the lease for the venue was acquired by the Apollo Leisure Group. The new leaseholders experienced considerable problems with the buildings structural condition and later considered relinquishing the lease in 1978, with Mecca Bingo expressing interest in the acquisition of the building.

The resumption was to herald a seven-year downward spiral, until the venue finally closed for business on 16 June 1985, with The Style Council being the final performers on the bill. The building was demolished in September 1987, following a fire that rendered the building structurally unsafe. It is now the site of Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew Street, the tallest cinema in the world and the busiest, by customer base, in the UK.[4]

The venue was especially renowned for its legendary "bouncing balcony", which was designed and built so that it would move up and down, a feature put to the test by concert-goers, who would jump up and down in it to get it to bounce. Francis Rossi (Status Quo) refers to this in a portion of audience chat on their Live! album recorded there, where he says "Those people at the top, on the balcony, [we] can only see you when the lights go up there. Get the balcony to move about a bit and they'll [the sound/road crew] all be running about and shitting themselves. Nice bunch of fellas, but very very scared of balconies!" Andy Summers (The Police) in his autobiography "One Train Later" wrote "Back in the dressing room, drenched in sweat and sitting among piles of little tartan-wrapped presents, we remark about the bouncing balcony, amazed that the whole thing didn't collapse."[5]

Notable performances[edit]

  • John Denver country and pop music legend performed 3 times at the Apollo in March 1976, March 1979 and November 1982.
  • Country music icon Johnny Cash was among the first to perform to open the Apollo on the 5–6 September 1973.
  • The Eagles played a sell out concert in the Apollo in April 1977.
  • Genesis played a concert in the Apollo in 1976 during their "A Trick Of The Tail Tour"
  • Northern Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers played their final gig at The Apollo on February 6, 1983, before re-uniting four years later in 1987.
  • The Rolling Stones played at the Apollo a week after the venue's official opening date in September 1973.
  • The Jacksons, Diana Ross and The Osmonds commenced their British tours at the Apollo.
  • Chuck Berry performed for a ₤25,000 fee (Berry demanded that he be paid in cash).
  • Duke Ellington played at the venue several months before his death in 1974.
  • The Clash, Meat Loaf, Gary Numan, Phil Collins and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark played at the Apollo before its closure in 1985.
  • The Style Council performed its farewell show at the Apollo.[2]
  • Status Quo recorded their first live album Live! at the Apollo between 27 and 29 October 1976. The album won the ‘Classic Album Award’ at the 2012 Classic Rock Roll of Honour awards show.
  • AC/DC recorded their first live album If You Want Blood You've Got It at the Apollo on 30 April 1978.
  • ABBA performed the last night of their UK tour in November 1979 at the venue. It was their last ever live performance in Britain.
  • Canadian progressive rock band Rush recorded songs for their Exit Stage Left live album at Apollo on June 10–11, 1980.
  • David Bowie performed at the Apollo Glasgow from 19 to 22 June 1978 Isolar II World Tour performing songs from his new album LOW. Of note: Carlos Alomar guitarist conducted the band in the opening number Warzawa

After demolition[edit]

Replacing the Apollo is a 212 ft tall Cineworld building constructed in 2001 the Cineworld building seats a total of 4,300 people which sits on exactly the same site where the Apollo used to be.

Enduring memories of the 12 years of the Apollo are remembered in the 2009 musical, I Was There: The Story of The Glasgow Apollo, written and produced by Tommy McGrory.[6] A musical recollection follows the stories of two Glaswegian fans who spent their formative years frequenting the infamous venue. The Loud 'n' Proud Rock Orchestra perform hits from bands synonymous with classic rock — AC/DC to Frank Zappa; ABBA to Black Sabbath; Alice Cooper to Tangerine Dream — all of whom performed at the Glasgow Apollo between 1973 and 1985.

The show returned to Glasgow on 27 and 28 August 2010, with a new line-up of songs, memories, dancers and actors to once again reunite the Glasgow Choir.

In 2003 was launched by Scott McArthur and Andy Muir. The site has received millions of hits and its authors were awarded an "I was there" trophy by Rock Radio in recognition of their efforts in maintaining the memory of the Apollo.

As of September 2012, Kenny Forbes, a music lecturer at West of Scotland University and mature student at Glasgow University, is researching the significance of the venue and has been gathering personal accounts from people who attended the venue since 2010. Forbes has constructed a corresponding website, entitled "You Were There", and has stated that he has "been overwhelmed by the response of the Apollo audience and staff towards the research; they’ve all been extremely keen to contribute what amounts to facets of their real life experiences at the venue." Forbes has also stated that he is "especially interested to hear from those who attended jazz, pop, soul and folk concerts at the Apollo” he says, “and also from those who worked at the venue in any capacity.”[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1973 - Here We Go Here We Go Here We Go". Glasgow Apollo. 2002–2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Billy Sloan (21 November 2010). "Glasgow Apollo has so many amazing memories from Johnny Cash opening it to The Style Council's finale, says former owner Frank Lynch". Daily Record and Sunday Mail. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Allan Laing (14 December 1985). "Unknown". The Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Cineworld Group plc – Company overview". Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "I Was There: The Story of The Glasgow Apollo". The List. The List Ltd. 8 February 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Do you remember Glasgow Apollo?". Walking Heads. Walking Heads. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°51′50″N 4°15′21″W / 55.86389°N 4.25583°W / 55.86389; -4.25583