The 2i's Coffee Bar: Difference between revisions

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The '''2i's Coffee Bar''' was a [[coffee bar]] at 59 [[Old Compton Street]], [[Soho]], [[London]], between 1956 and 1970. It played a formative role in the emergence of Britain's [[pop music]] culture in the late 1950s, and several major stars including [[Tommy Steele]] and [[Cliff Richard]] were first discovered performing there.
==History==
The name of the 2i's derived from earlier owners, Freddie and Sammy Irani, who ran the venue until 1955.<ref name=storytellers>[http://musicstorytellers.wordpress.com/people-with-2i%E2%80%99s/ Musicstorytellers: People With 2i’s]. Retrieved 24 October 2013</ref> It was then taken over by Paul Lincoln &ndash; an [[Australian]] [[wrestler]] known as "Dr. Death" and wrestling [[Promoter (entertainment)|promoter]] &ndash; and Ray Hunter. They opened it as a coffee bar on 22 April 1956.<ref name=birthplace>[http://2iscoffeebar5670.blogspot.co.uk/ 2 I's Coffee bar, The Birthplace of British Rock]. Retrieved 25 October 2013</ref><ref name=glinert>[{{cite web|url=http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lsajhUAqX_wC&pg=PT508&dq=%222i%27s%22+++irani&hl=en&ei=7eyvTt6FJsm18QO9hpj2CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%222i%27s%22%20%20%20irani&f=false Ed Glinert, ''|title=The London Compendium: A Street-by-street Exploration of the Hidden Metropolis'', Penguin|publisher=Books.google.co.uk|accessdate=21 UK,December 2004]2014}}</ref> Tom Littlewood, previously its doorman and a [[judo]] instructor, became its manager in 1958.<ref name=storytellers/>
 
The [[basement]] of the coffee bar had [[live music]] making use of a small, 18-inch wide stage. Lincoln and Hunter started putting on [[skiffle]] groups; the first resident group were [[The Vipers Skiffle Group|the Vipers]], who included [[Wally Whyton]]. It soon won a clientele attracted because of its [[rock'n'roll]] music, and for a time became "the most famous music venue in England," and attracted talent spotters and music promoters such as [[Jack Good (producer)|Jack Good]], [[Larry Parnes]] and [[Don Arden]].<ref name=birthplace/>
The coffee bar allowed standing room for about 20 people, and had a serving counter with an [[espresso]] coffee machine, orange juice dispenser, and sandwich display case. A door at the back led to the manager's office, and a narrow stairway led down to a "dismal and dark cellar about the size of a large bedroom, lit by a couple of weak bulbs. At one end was the small 18 inch stage made of milk crates with planks on top of them. There was just one microphone, left over from the [[Boer War]], and some speakers up on the wall."<ref name=birthplace/>
 
Several recording stars were discovered at, or performed at, the coffee bar, including [[Rory Blackwell]], [[Tommy Steele]], The [[Vipers Skiffle Group]], [[Cliff Richard]], [[Hank Marvin]], [[Bruce Welch]], [[Brian Bennett (musician)|Brian Bennett]], [[Tony Meehan]], [[Jet Harris]], [[Brian Locking|Brian 'Licorice' Locking]], [[Vince Eager]], [[Terry Dene]], [[Wee Willie Harris]], [[Adam Faith]], [[Carlo Little]], [[Joe Brown (singer)|Joe Brown]], [[Clem Cattini]] ([[The Tornados]]), [[Eden Kane]], [[Screaming Lord Sutch]], [[Tony Sheridan]], Keith Kelly,Timothy Fitzpatrick, [[Lance Fortune]], [[Jay Chance]], [[Albert Lee]], [[Johnny Kidd (singer)|Johnny Kidd]], Paul Gadd (later to be known as Paul Raven and then [[Gary Glitter]]), [[Ritchie Blackmore]], [[Alex Wharton]], [[Mickie Most]] (as the Most Brothers)<ref>[{{cite web|url=http://www.kentgigs.com/musicbiz/People.html#billkent|title=Kent BillMusicBiz Kent]- Musicians - People|publisher=Kentgigs.com|accessdate=21 December 2014}}</ref> and [[Big Jim Sullivan]].
 
According to an article in ''Time'',<ref>''Time,'' Monday, April 15, 1957</ref> [[skiffle]] was new to the UK, and the 2i's Coffee Bar and, nearby, [[The Cat's Whisker]], founded by [[Peter Evans (restaurateur)|Peter Evans]], were where "Soho hipsters swelter and suffocate for it... and... generally the musicians were paid with coffee and cokes".<ref>McDevitt, Chas: ''Skiffle: The Definitive Inside Story''. Robson Books. ISBN 1-86105-140-9</ref> Evans later started the [[Aberdeen Angus Steak Houses|Angus Steak Houses]] from the bar. [[Lionel Bart]] and [[Mickie Most]] worked there as waiters.<ref name=birthplace/> [[Led Zeppelin]]'s manager, [[Peter Grant (music manager)|Peter Grant]], was a bouncer at the 2i's prior to his career in the music business.<ref name="Wall">[[Mick Wall]] (2008), ''When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin'', London: Orion, p. 18.</ref>
 
The 2i's closed in 1967. It later became the Dome Café Bar and then the Boulevard Bar. The site is now The House of Ho, a modern Vietnamese restaurant owned by world-renowned chef [[Bobby Chinn]]. Every Sunday the restaurant holds 'Bobby's Rock'n'Roll Brunch' to celebrate the history of the site <ref>{{cite web|url=http://musicstorytellers.wordpress.com/the-history-of-the-2i%E2%80%99s-coffee-bar/|title=THE HISTORY OF THE 2i’s COFFEE BAR|work=Musicstorytellers|accessdate=21 December 2014}}</ref> and it'sits 'Rock'n'Roll'rock and roll roots.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.houseofho.co.uk/blog/introducing-bobbys-rocknroll-brunch/|title=House of Ho|publisher=Houseofho.co.uk|accessdate=21 December 2014}}</ref>
 
==Legacy==
* [[Vince Eager]] (summer 1958)
* [[Vince Taylor]] & the Playboys (early 1959 - summer 1960)
* The Jury (1961 - summer 1962)<ref name=birthplace/>
<ref name=birthplace/>
 
==References==