The Apollo (Glasgow)

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The Apollo
Green’s Playhouse (1927–1973)
Address126 Renfield Street (1973–1987)
Scotland, United Kingdom
OwnerGeorge Green Ltd
DesignationMusic Venue
Opened5 September 1973
Closed16 June 1985
Years active12 Years
ArchitectJohn Fairweather

The Apollo was a music venue at 126 Renfield Street in Glasgow city centre, Scotland. The Apollo operated from 5 September 1973 until closure on 16 June 1985 and was Glasgow's leading music venue in this period. The Apollo was a re-brand of the previous Green's Playhouse in the same building.[1]


See separate article, Green's Playhouse.

The Green family owned Green's Playhouse cinema at 126 Renfield Street. It was thought to be the largest cinema in Europe at the time but was in decline. Unicorn Leisure leased a discothèque named Clouds in the top floor of the building. Unicorn included management of Billy Connolly in their portfolio.[2] On hearing the Green family were considering converting the dis-repaired venue into a bingo hall or demolishing the venue for a completely new development, Unicorn applied to lease the building which they felt had potential as a music venue. They bought a job lot of 3,000 cinema seats and re-upholstered the 'Golden Divans' in the balcony. "Apollo" was chosen as the name of the re-branded venue so to mitigate the cost of letters for which the sign company charged £250 per letter.[3]

The first two concerts at The Apollo were performed by Johnny Cash on 5 & 6 September 1973. The venue was quickly attractive to the public responding to booking of popular performers of the time who spoke favourably of the atmosphere generated by the exuberant crowds.[3] 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.

The venue was known for the atmosphere generated by its enthusiastic crowds, a 15 ft 6 in high stage (often exaggerated and misreported)[3] that sloped down towards the audience and "bouncy balcony" 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!" Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers said the stage was "the only one in our career where we said if anyone got onstage from the audience, they could stay. They'd earned it." Andy Summers of 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 remarked about the bouncing balcony, amazed that the whole thing didn't collapse."[4] The venue was used for numerous live album recordings (see "Notable Performances" section) and was used as either opening or closing venue by many performers visiting the UK from America. The management team for the Ramones have subsequently said the Apollo was the Ramones' favourite venue.[5]

Despite the Apollo's success as a music venue, the building was in a poor condition and its structure was gradually deteriorating. Maintenance was undertaken only on a "make-do" basis. In mid-1977 the owner of Unicorn Leisure relocated to Florida. 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. A successful campaign to preserve the building's status as a music venue included a 100,000 signature petition including support from Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. The resumption was to herald a seven-year downward spiral until the venue finally closed for business on 16 June 1985. The Style Council were the final performers on the bill. The building was demolished in September 1987 following a fire that rendered the building structurally unsafe.

Such is the high regard that Ozzy Osbourne felt for the place that when he agreed to an interview on Scottish Television he asked that the interview be held in the empty disused site of the old building.

Notable performances[edit]

  • On 5 & 6 September 1973 Johnny Cash was the first headline act to perform after the theatre had been re-branded and re-opened as The Apollo
  • In October 1973 King Crimson recorded their Apollo performance much of which was released on The Great Deceiver album in 1992[1]
  • In November 1973 the Apollo was one of three venues Roxy Music used for the 1976 live album Viva![6]
  • Between 27 and 29 October 1976 Status Quo recorded their first live album Live! at the Apollo. The album won the ‘Classic Album Award’ at the 2012 Classic Rock Roll of Honour awards show.
  • On 30 April 1978 AC/DC recorded their first live album If You Want Blood You've Got It at the Apollo. The band played their encore dressed in the full Scotland Football Team strip celebrating the Scots participation in the upcoming 1978 FIFA World Cup Finals in Argentina.
  • On 23 December 1978 The Rezillos played their farewell gig and released this as a live album named Mission Accomplished
  • In November 1979 ABBA performed the last night of their UK tour at the venue. It was their last ever live performance in Britain.
  • On 17 December 1979 Paul McCartney and Wings recorded a version of Coming Up to be released on the flip side of the single release of the studio version. "Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)" has since appeared on the US versions of the McCartney compilations All the Best! (1987) and Wingspan: Hits and History (2001). The concert featured Campbelltown Pipe Band joining the proceedings during Mull of Kintyre
  • On 31 December 1979 Blondie played broadcast live on UK nationwide television on The Old Grey Whistle Test. They were joined on stage by bagpipers for "Sunday Girl"
  • On 10–11 June 1980 Canadian progressive rock band Rush recorded songs for their Exit Stage Left live double album at the Apollo. The Apollo recordings were selected from over 50 reels of two inch tape Rush recorded on their Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures tours. The other three sides of Exit... Stage Left were recorded in Rush's home country of Canada
  • On 12 September 1981 Ozzy Osbourne began his post Black Sabbath touring career by formally starting the Blizzard of Ozz Tour at the Apollo. Osbourne's wife and manager, Sharon Osbourne, said of the gig in her autobiography, Extreme, "...we were all really, really nervous. In the days of variety, Glaswegians were said to be the most difficult of any audience in Britain, especially on a Friday night, which this was, when they got paid and got pissed. I didn't tell Ozzy - he was nervous enough already, on and off the toilet shaking with stage fright. .....before the doors opened they were lining up round the block, and we were all in shock. The show was unbelievable. At the end, Ozzy knelt down and kissed the stage. "Thank you, thank you, I love you, love you," he said, his voice breaking with emotion. And we all cried, the three of us: Ozzy, Randy and me, sobbing with tears of joy, and we could still hear voices from the auditorium calling for more...He had done it. He had fucking done it"
  • In 1981 The Stranglers' recording for Radio Clyde was released as 'Live at the Apollo' in 2003
  • On 19 February 1982 Alice Cooper ended his Special Forces tour at the Apollo. The recording later became an unofficial release in Sweden titled "For Glasgow Only"
  • In April 1982 The Jam played two concerts at the Apollo the first of which later appears in Live Jam. At the end of the year they commenced their farewell tour by playing the Apollo
  • On 30 August 1982 Roxy Music recorded The High Road (EP) at the Apollo
  • On 6 February 1983 Northern Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers played their final gig at The Apollo before re-uniting four years later in 1987
  • The 14 February 1984 concert by Gary Moore broadcast by Radio Clyde contributed four tracks to the live album We Want Moore
  • On 16 June 1985 The Style Council performed the final concert at the Apollo before it was demolished.[3] The last song played at the venue was their cover version of Curtis Mayfield's Move on Up

After demolition[edit]

The Apollo was replaced by a Cineworld building constructed in 2001 on exactly the same site.

A musical was first produced in 2009 titled, I Was There: The Story of The Glasgow Apollo.[7]

The retro website was launched in 2003. As of 2017 the sites has received over 12 million hits.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "1973 - Here We Go Here We Go Here We Go". Glasgow Apollo. 2002–2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  2. ^ Allan Laing (14 December 1985). "Unknown". The Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d 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.
  4. ^ "". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Celebrating 40 Years Of Ramones | GRAMMY Museum". YouTube. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Roxy Music - Viva! Roxy Music (The Live Roxy Music Album) (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  7. ^ "I Was There: The Story of The Glasgow Apollo". The List. The List Ltd. 8 February 2009. 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