5 Historic Gigs That Shook The Roundhouse

Built in 1847 by the London and North Western Railway, The Roundhouse gained fame — and notoriety — in the 60s and 70s as a live music venue. Closed in 1983 and subsequently put to occasional use, it re-opened properly in 2006 after a multi-million pound refurbishment, and has since become a firm fixture on London’s live music scene. Here are five shows it's famous for.

Jimi Hendrix – February 22, 1967 This gig has become almost legendary because Hendrix had his black Fender Stratocaster stolen from the side of the stage. It led to Noel Redding describing the gig as “Awful”. But in truth, those present have subsequently said the man himself was inspired that night, delivering a stellar performance, with Hey Joe a real highlight. And footage from that night has turned up online to back up this assertion. Also on the bill were The Soft Machine, The Flies and Sandy And Hilary. Interestingly, The Flies shared a dressing room with Hendrix at this gig. No star treatment for the man here!

The Doors – September 6/7, 1968 The only time the band ever played in the UK with Jim Morrison, and actually they did two shows on both nights. The first was at 9.30pm and the second was at 2.30am. The late performance on the second is regarded as one of the band’s best ever. On the 6th, The Doors supported Jefferson Airplane, with the roles reversed for the 7th. Both early gigs were filmed by Granada TV for use in the documentary The Doors Are Open, but due to technical problems only footage from the second was used.

Rolling Stones – December 11/12, 1968 Mick Jagger organised what was billed as a Rock And Roll Circus, featuring a whole litany of performers, including The Who, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithful and the Stones themselves. Although the whole night was somewhat disorganised, it was notable for being Brian Jones’ final public performance with the Stones, and also for being the only time Jethro Tull played live with Tony Iommi. The performances ran from 2pm on the 11th until 5am the next day. Problems with setting up the cameras between acts led to massive overruns. The film of the events was released as in 1996.

Motorhead – July 20, 1975 The band’s fist ever show, when they somewhat incongruously opened for prog noodler Dave Greenslade. With Larry Wallis on guitar and Lucas Fox on drums, as well as Lemmy, the sound was so muddy that evening that the band were described as the worst band in the world. The set included a cover of Hawkwind’s Silver Machine, as well as blues standard Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, plus a cover of The Velvet Underground’s I’m Waiting For The Man. There were also what would become solid band faves like Motorhead itself and Leaving Here. The band’s intro was a tape of marching German troops from the Second World War.

The Ramones – July 4, 1976 Although they were ostensibly opening for The Flamin’ Groovies, this was clearly The Ramones’ night. With members of The Clash and The Damned in the audience, the band delivered what was described by one reviewer at the time as a set that made the venue ‘the hottest, sleazier garage ever’. Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks felt it was a rallying cry for the burgeoning punk scene. This was one of those gigs that changed the face of music in this country – forever.

The Roundhouse in more recent times

The Roundhouse in more recent times (Image credit: Getty Images)
Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021