Some interesting facts to emerge from the study …
As well as requiring the requisite entertainment licences from the local council, the Apollo also had to acquire a ‘wet fish’ licence for its Mr Chips venture. Some audience members may recall that, when the Apollo initially opened, the venue management thought that, as per theatre traditions, an upmarket confectionary shop (‘The Chocolate Box’) would entice the numerous rock fans who frequented the venue. Within a few months however, it was found that what the audience really wanted was fish and chips, not expensive chocolate, and Mr Chips thereafter became an integral part of the Apollo live experience.
The numerous live albums recorded at the Apollo are well documented. Another one to add to the list is ‘It’s Alive’ by The Ramones (1979). Frequently referred to as one of the best ever live albums in a number of rock media sources, the album is listed as being recorded live at The Rainbow Theatre in London on 31 December 1977. However, closer scrutiny reveals that only the drums remain from that performance, with the guitars, bass and vocals being added later in the studio. The audience noise? Over to Tommy Erdelyi, better known as Tommy Ramone, the group’s drummer (now sadly deceased), who stated that the Apollo audience of 19 December 1977 on the same tour was:
… one of the best we ever had, in fact it was so vocal and appreciative that we used the Glasgow audience’s ambient sound that we recorded and added it to the recording of the Rainbow audience in London a few days later for our It’s Alive album. (In Glasgow) … the whole building seemed to shake with the excitement.
Of course, one of the most significant live albums to be recorded at the Apollo was Status Quo ‘Live!’ (1977). Significantly, when the original members of Quo regrouped in 2013 for a series of UK concerts, the template for the Apollo live album, including an re-enactment of the stirring introduction by Jackie Lynton, was used by the group as a means to signify that they had returned to their original and most authentic era, as encapsulated at the Apollo in October 1976.
Despite its reputation as a rock venue, the Apollo attracted a wide range of artists and genres throughout its twelve-year history. In this respect, the study provides a ‘genre map’ and shows that the first three years of its tenure proved to be its most varied. This block advertisement from October 1975 typifies this in many ways, with Calum Kennedy and Lynyrd Skynyrd serving to make interesting bedfellows. It has often been said that the venue attracted everyone from Abba to Zappa. Funnily enough, despite their implied distance, these two artists actually performed at venue on consecutive nights (12-13 February 1977).
When The Sex Pistols concert at the Apollo was cancelled shortly before the group’s scheduled appearance in December 1976, less than 100 tickets had been sold for the event.
There were only 19 concerts held at the Apollo in 1985, the last year the venue operated. 1975 was the peak year for concerts, with 146 taking place over the course of that year.
Whilst the Apollo was generally considered to be one of the UK’s leading live music venues, this status existed for a fairly short duration, in commercial terms at least. Indeed, the 1976 UK tour by The Rolling Stones serves to emphasise this. The tour, which started with three dates at the Apollo and concluded with six concerts at Earls Court, was noted for attracting over one million ticket applications for the London dates. The audience figures alone highlight the clear disparity in revenue potential between the two venues. Framed by economies of scale, it would have taken in the region of 24 concerts at the Apollo to meet the total audience achieved at Earls Court. Tellingly, when the group last perform at the Apollo in 1982, the concert is used for a rehearsal for their upcoming, and more lucrative, stadium appearances in England. In fact, the revenues from this Apollo concert fail to cover the band’s expenses.