"Karl remembers legendary west London venue, The Clarendon"
When I used to go there in the mid to late 80s the Clarendon seemed like the most interesting, exciting place I could imagine - along with the Great Gear Market in the Kings Road and Kensington Market in Kensington High Street it felt like one of the last bastions of the underground / counter-culture in a London that was already changing fast. I think the building itself dated from the 1920s or 30s - upstairs there was a huge ballroom with a separate bar where larger bands would play (I think the capacity was about 750-1000, though I’m sure more often squeezed in), and after gigs every Saturday there was a rock club. On the ground floor was an old Art Decco style bar with a long, curved counter down one side and little alcoves down the other, where everyone would meet up before gigs. In the basement was another bar with a tiny stage at the back where all the smaller bands would play.
All three levels came complete with peeling paint, sticky carpets, frequently overflowing toilets and the kind of excitement that could only be generated by such an unlikely mixture of people. Punks, goths, hippies, headbangers, rock-a-billies, psycho-billies, skinheads and bikers all rubbed shoulders with a few old regulars who would have been drinking on a park bench if they weren’t in the Clarendon. The ‘Klub Foot’ club night was a long-running rock-a-billy / psycho-billy night that resulted in some live compilation albums (‘Stompin’ at the Klub Foot’)but the list of great punk / post-punk / alternative bands that played there in the 80s is endless. I personally saw dozens of bands there including: The Damned, The Fuzztones, Bad Brains, NoMeansNo, Doctor and the Medics, Flesh for Lulu, Crazyhead. But the best by far was a virtually unheard-of north London band called The Wigs, whose singer - a certain Keith Jones - can now be seen judging the BBC’s ‘Great Pottery Throw-down’.
The Clarendon was demolished in the early 90s - you can see the prototype of the redevelopment at the start of ‘Bottom’ with Rick Mayall and Ade Edmundson leaning through its window. The site is now covered by the concrete ramp leading up to the new bus station.