In January 1977, The Roxy opened at 41-43 Neal St, Covent Garden in Central London. The premises had previously been used as a warehouse connected to Covent Garden’s original fruit and vegetable market, but in 1970 had been converted to a late night bar called Chaguaramas. By 1976 the club was run down and lacking direction, so inspired by its central location, and having been tipped off as its potential as a venue by Gene October, the three original founders Andrew Czezowski, Susan Carrington and Barry Jones kicked started their tenure at The Roxy with 3 shows in December 1976. The very first one on 14th Dec 1976 featured Generation X (who Andrew was managing) the second featured The Heartbreakers, and the third saw the Banshees and Generation X, but it was the official opening on Jan 1st 1977 with The Clash and The Heartbreakers that The Roxy really started to find its form. The Roxy was the first self-declared “Punk” venue to open, and bands and fans who had previously been appearing at a scattered hotch-potch of pubs and clubs all over the capital, finally had somewhere to call home. Don Letts was the resident DJ, playing reggae, interspersed with the occasional and still rare, Punk record, and also had the foresight to film much of the shenanigans both onstage and off. The initial set up had been one of enthusiasm over business sense, and unable to meet the demands for an ever increasing rent, Andrew, Susan and Barry called it a day in April 1977. Following a night with Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Violators, the whole crew were unceremoniously ousted, and many of the original club goers never went back. The club continued for a time under new management, but for the early Punks it was the first 100 days that left their mark.
“By the time that first phase of The Roxy finished everything had changed, forever, and the Roxy wasn’t needed. In fact by the middle of 1977 you’d forgotten all about it” – Mick Mercer
From January to April 1977, the Roxy played host to a gob-smacking array of early Punk bands including: Generation X, The Adverts, The Boys, Buzzcocks, Chelsea, Cock Sparrer, The Cortinas, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, The Damned, The Drones, Eater, The Jam, The Lurkers, The Only Ones, Penetration, The Police, The Rejects, Sham 69, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Slaughter & the Dogs, The Slits, The Stranglers, Subway Sect,The Vibrators, Cherry Vanilla, Wire, X-Ray Spex and XTC.
There’s an album, Live at The Roxy where you can still hear full throttle early punk as recorded at the club, and an excellent book The Roxy- A Punk History by Paul Marko, curator and writer of punk77.co.uk
41-43 Neal Street today houses a brand name swimwear shop, however there is a small plaque on the first floor level quietly boasting its history.
Further recommended reading – The Diary of Adrian Fox also via punk77