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  • Writer's pictureRock Tour London

9 Kingly Street, Soho, London

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

I'm not sure there's another place that has better bragging rights than this basement club at the bottom of a long staircase located at 9 Kingly Street.

The Bag O'Nails opened in this Soho location in 1965. It was here on 25 November, 1966 that The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their first gig as a group. The club only held 100 people and the audience in attendance that night is said to have been the who's who of London's rock elite and included Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Brian Epstein, John Entwistle, Donovan, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Lulu, The Hollies, The Small Faces, The Animals and Roger Mayer. Mayer was an electronics wiz who developed effects boxes for guitar players; he was so impressed by what he saw in Hendrix he would later create devices strictly for Jimi.

To help give you an idea of how that night might have evolved, here is an excerpt from Charles R. Cross' book Room Full of Mirrors: pages 177/178...

Singer Terry Reid had not yet seen The Experience and recalled, "It was as if all the guitar players in the world had shown up." When Reid sat down in the Bag, he was surprised to find Paul McCartney sitting next to him. "Have you seen this guy yet? He's amazing." McCartney said. What Jimi did to start the show shocked Reid even more. "Thanks for coming," Jimi said as he walked onstage. "I'd like to do this little song that I know is very close to your heart. It's number one on the charts." That alone was enough to surprise the audience of musicians. "We were thinking," Terry Reid said, "if it's number one on the charts, it's not close to our hearts because if it was over ten, we hated it." Jimi then introduced Wild Thing. "Wild Thing was a pop throwaway and it was what everybody stood against!" Reid observed. "And he played it, and banged the shit out of this bloody thing, and takes off into outer space. Imagine the most horrible song in the world turned into the most beautiful." Reid went to the bathroom at one point, coming back, bumped into Brian Jones. "It's all wet down in the front." Jones warned. Reid replied: "What are you talking about? I can't see any water." To which Jones said, "It's wet from all the guitar players crying."

Another claim to fame the Bag O'Nails can call its own is this little tidbit: Linda Eastman was in the club the night of 15 May 1967 with some friends, members of The Animals. She was in London on assignment to take photos for an upcoming book called Rock & Other Four-Letter Words

Paul McCartney headed to the Bag, after leaving Brian Epstein's dinner party celebrating the completion of St. Peppers, where he was such a regular he had his own table.

Paul stood up as Linda was passing his table and blocked her from continuing on. He introduced himself and asked if she wanted to join him as he and his friend were heading to another club. She said she would. Years later McCartney made fun of his pickup line, but let's face it, he was a Beatle, did he really need one?

McCartney and Eastman went their separate ways after that evening but met up again about a year later (May 1968) in New York City. They married in March of 1969.

The club closed in 1968 and reopened in the same location in 2013. I took the pictures that accompany this post in 2018 before the club closed again. It reopened again in 2019 as a members only club called The Court.

Rock and Roll. London Rock and Roll Tours. London Rock and Roll History.


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