Middle Earth (club)

Middle Earth (formerly 'Electric Garden Club') was an influential hippie club in London, UK in the mid-to-late 1960s, following on from the UFO Club after it was closed down due to police pressure and the imprisonment of its founder John 'Hoppy' Hopkins.

Middle Earth started in a large cellar at 43 King Street, in Covent Garden, London. It was a competitor to the Roundhouse at Chalk Farm.

Nights at Middle Earth were normally hosted and arranged by the DJ Jeff Dexter. Groups that played there included Pink Floyd, The Who, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Fairport Convention and Jefferson Airplane, Eric Burdon and Captain Beefheart. The Byrds also played here twice with Gram Parsons. The main groups playing on a regular basis were Soft Machine, Tomorrow, Sam Gopal's Dream, Tyrannosaurus Rex with Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin Took, Social Deviants, and the Graham Bond Organization who was a constant visitor/performer. Others included The Exploding Galaxy dance group, and The Tribe of the Sacred Mushroom headed by Lin Darnton had performed a play based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

The club was notable for several drug raids by the police during which underage revellers were arrested. Where in fact on the occasion of the 2 raids on Covent Garden, one of which occurred while Lin Darnton's play based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead was being performed, only 2 girls were arrested for being underage. The other arrest was of a member of The Graham Bond Organization for Possession. Sam Gopal's Dream was also due to perform that night, and were hanging out in the dressing room with Graham Bond when the Police raided the club. Also a machine called the 'Trip Machine' was dismantled and taken away by the Police.

Mick Hutchinson and Pete Sears of Sam Gopal's Dream often spent the night in the club with Graham Bond after management had pad-locked the outside gates after closing. Sam Gopal's Dream was an instrumental trio that played many shows at both the Electric Garden Club and, later, at Middle Earth.

Colin Jury was one of the lighting crew at Middle Earth through 1967-68. (www.newmediart.com.br) He has these memories of some shows...So Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band come out wearing Spy vs Spy outfits, each a different color - but perfect! Hats Capes, Suits, Boots, Guitars, all one solid color. Bright Red, Blue, Green and Yellow with Beefheart in Black wearing his Bowler! "He finished with a 25 minute encore of "Mirror Man" Screaming! It was a mind-bender of a lightshow of classic proportions along with their music. After they finished and left the stage, we killed all stage lights and brought up full house lights. Then Captain Beefheart walks out to the front of the stage and taps a mike until it became live. All the people were still trying to deal with the reality of houselights...he said in his raspy booming voice - but loud "That was the best light-show I had anywhere, better than San Francisco ~ ANYWHERE! And walked back off the stage!

The Byrds in the middle of their show, after an amazing half-set with Easy Chair and Eight Miles High etc., stopped and asked us to kill the lights and bring up the Houselights. We did this and they said "This is our last gig as the Byrds, we are now going to play Bluegrass." You should have seen the looks on the faces of these British Hippies - spongling on Sandoz - like WTF! It came off as just weird...

Nick Butt was the clubs electrician. He recalls that on the afternoon / evening that the Tribe of the sacred mushroom put on their play, after the police left following the raid, a rumour (untrue) went round the Covent garden market porters that a child was being burnt at the stake in the club. They stormed in with axes and box hooks and stayed about half an hour destroying almost everything in the club. Before leaving they smashed an axe through the office door where staff including Jeff Dexter were taking refuge.

John Peel was also a disc jockey at the Club on Saturday Nights until Mid 1968. The Club was closed down in mid 1968 and after holding events at a few venues settled at the Roundhouse where it put on the Doors and Jefferson Airplane for 4 performances over two nights in September 1968. Led Zeppelin played their first public performance there on Saturday 9 November 1968.

Paul Waldman was the club's owner, David Howson was the manager. They formed a record label called Middle Earth Records in 1969 in association with Chess Records. The label released only about 4 album titles before it was closed in 1970. David Howson went on to become a Publicity Manager for Phonogram and Later EMI records.

Marie Brown and Jenny Fabian worked in the ticket office. Whilst working at Middle Earth, Jenny Fabian co wrote "Groupie" an Iconic book about the life and times of a Groupie. (Plus Pat - second name of this lady unknown - she did artwork for posters and many other tasks. She said 'whatever happened to Hobbit' - Pat and Hobbit where left off of this list so Hobbit says 'whatever happened to Pat').

Door Men included: Alan Reid, Scotch Billie, Norman Pilkington, Jordan Reynolds. Paul Martyn-Smith (AKA Hobbit) now known for his published work on Book of Changes - The Sum of Things.

Restaurant Staff included: Mimi & Mouse who formed a band called "Shiva's children" with Alan Reid. Scotch Billie also ran restaurant with the help of John, plus his French Riot Baton, which he used to threaten an Inspector from Bow Street on the Middle Earth's first police raid - the only policeman to get through the door as it was shut by Hobbit until warrant was served - this gave many minutes warning to either get rid of or hide many substances collected by staff afterwards as the club was then closed to public for the night). (Account given on both raids above by Hobbit). Tim Sharman later Took over the management of the restaurant in Covent Garden & continued to run it at the Roundhouse until the clubs closure.

Cleaners/odd jobs: John the Bog. Hobbit.

Link to Obituary (David Howson). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article1974741.ece

Famous quotes containing the words middle and/or earth:

    In the middle classes the gifted son of a family is always the poorest—usually a writer or artist with no sense for speculation—and in a family of peasants, where the average comfort is just over penury, the gifted son sinks also, and is soon a tramp on the roadside.
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    We will not be put off the final goal
    We have it hidden in us to attain,
    Not though we have to seize the earth by the pole
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