Did you see Jimi Hendrix play his gigs in Croydon or Purley?

Croydon Star: did you see Hendrix play his gigs in Croydon or Purley?

They say that if you say you can remember the Swinging Sixties, you probably weren’t there.

But you’d like to think that if you’d been lucky enough to see Jimi Hendrix play Croydon or Purley, you’d remember something of the … ahem… Experience.

As a new exhibition opens in Hendrix’s former home in central London, the very excellent Great Wen blog has unearthed that as well as playing gigs at the usual venues, such as The Marquee and the Albert Hall, just over 40 years ago the man regarded as the greatest guitarist ever also played several less well-known south London venues.

Just think what it must have been like to see the Jimi Hendrix Experience play at the Bromley Court Hotel, the Ram Jam Club on Brixton Road, the Tooting Granada, or, most notably, The Star Hotel, Croydon and the Orchid Ballroom, Purley.

“Hendrix in Purley, now that’s a side of swinging London you don’t hear much about these days,” the Wen writes.

We are told that The Star Hotel – or was it The Star Tavern? – long since gone, was on London Road, at West Croydon, before the turn-off for the Mayday Hospital. “A scruffy sort of place,” apparently, but there’s also a suggestion that it was a noted music venue in the 1960s, with The Who having played there, too.

We’d like to hear from our regular reader, if you managed to see Hendrix or other great acts at The Star or Purley’s Orchid Ballroom. What do you remember of the gig? And what other great acts played at the venue? When did it close, and why?

And, for those at the other end of the age scale, what are the best live music venues in Croydon today? What have been the best music acts seen by you in Croydon?

Let us know.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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9 Responses to Did you see Jimi Hendrix play his gigs in Croydon or Purley?

  1. Dave Pearson says:

    I saw Jimi play at the Star Hotel in Croydon. The place itself wasn’t scruffy though many of the Monday night punters were! It was a blues club primarily, though the first band I saw there was a soul group called the Heart And Souls. Other bands I saw there included The Graham Bond Organisation, Chicken Shack, Edgar Broughton, Stray and many others. The bands played in the large hall at the back of the pub. When Jimi played there it was packed even though few of us knew anything about him. He literally blew everyone’s mind away that evening!

  2. bnhobbs says:

    I have very fond memories of the Star Hotel, (Don’t think it was ever the Star Tavern). I used to go there regularly with my mates as a teenager. Management was not very strict on the age limits and so we were able to start quite young.

    We saw many great bands at the Star which gave me a lifelong love of blues and jazz. I remember the hall at the back of the pub being very small and very loud. So loud that my ears would ring for hours after a session .
    A history of the Star is also a history of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Mayall brought to the Star some of the best British lead guitarist including Eric Clapton and Peter Green. I love Clapton but Peter Green was my favorite at the time. I am not sure if I saw him there or even if he played the Star but earlier Mick Taylor was also one of the greats in Mayall’s band.

    John Mayall was kind-off the house band at the Star and it seemed like they played there almost every week. Mayall spun off many of the 60’s greats, including Cream and Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood Mac played the Star several times and they were really a reinvented Bluesbreakers.
    To me the Fleetwood Mac that I saw play the Star was the best version of the band and were amazing. The band featured MIck Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood all of whom played for Mayall. Christine McVie on vocals and the incredible Jeremy Spencer on slide guitar.
    I saw many other great bands at the Star but my memories are too foggy to be sure about which ones. Whoever ran the Star had great connections to the music scene and attracted amazing talent for such a small venue.
    As well as the Star, for us the big deal was to go to into the city and visit Marquee club on Wardour Street. I can also remember going the Ram Jam club in Brixton which, at the time, was kind off scarey place for a white teenager.

  3. Maggie Ryan says:

    was it the greyhound? not the star…. it was in thornton heath opp. the cinema….

  4. The Star Hotel is still there, at 296 London Road, now trading as the Broad Green Tavern. It’s a fine-looking Victorian building. Anyone got time to apply to English Heritage and get it Grade 2 listed?

  5. Alan Bayne says:

    It was the Star Hotel and it was still there the last time I looked. I saw Hendrix there in Feb ’67 . He was unknown at the time he was booked I suspect, but ‘Hey Joe’ was released in late ’66 raising his profile a tad. I recall that Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding were in a front bar seated at a table before the gig supping Mackeson or similar stout ale. For the set , MM and NR were on stage for a while before JH arrived . The room was filled and the walls seemed to be lined to the ceiling with the audience . It was a crush . I and a few mates were at the front with arms linked together standing around the small stage , to hold back the throng, and Jimi came on stage a little late through the back curtains that as I recall gave access to french doors . He would not have been able to pass through the room. It was an ‘experience’. Lots of great guitar acts played there . I saw Peter Green with Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan play there a few times. It never seemed a problem to gain entry. Ones youth in the ’60’s could easily be misspent between the Star ‘Club’ , The Orchid Ballroom , The Croydon Suite, The Locarno Streatham and for good measure , The Toby Jug Tolworth . There never seemed to be traffic on the roads either. Happy days.

  6. Martin Wiseman says:

    I actually played the Star with my band, but that wasn’t until the early 1980’s. We auditioned and got the support slot to the more established or bands on the pro circuit. It was like getting paid for something you’d actually pay for. There were some great proper rhythm and blues bands where you really felt you were back in the great blues days of the Sixties again. It was great. My favourite was Tony Mcphee of the Groundhogs who we opened for. There was list of who had played there and it was like the who’s who of music as everyone from Oscar Peterson to the Cream to even Genesis belief or not had played at the Star. The rumours amongst musicians I’ve spoken to is the Star closed after the landlord was murdered and after that it’s existence as a music venue ended. That back hall where the gigs were held is still there, but it now has a separate entrance to the pub itself and is just hired out for wedding receptions and similar. Sad end for what was a fantastic music venue where just about anyone who’s anyone once played there.

  7. paul finch says:

    My mum claims she saw Bowie play there. She went to see another band but Bowie was playing instead with a band called The Hype. Can anyone confirm or deny?

  8. Jack says:

    Saw him Clapton Otis Redding Four tops and a lot of others that I can’t remember.Saw saw ziggy and the spiders at wallington town hall for the first live performance.

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