The 2i's Coffee Bar: Difference between revisions

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{{EngvarB|date=October 2017}}
{{Use dmy dates|date=October 2017}}
{{Infobox venue
| name = 2i's Coffee Bar
| image = 2isx.jpg
| image_caption =
| location = [[Old Compton Street]]<br />[[London]], {{postcode|W|1}}<br />United Kingdom
| publictransit = {{rail-interchange|london|underground}} {{lus|Leicester Square}}
| type = [[Coffeehouse]]
| owner = Paul Lincoln
}}
The '''2i's Coffee Bar''' was a [[Coffeehouse]] on [[Old Compton Street]] in [[Soho]], [[London]], that was open from 1956 to 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]] and wrestling [[Promoter (entertainment)|promoter]] known as "Dr. Death" &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=https://books.google.com/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|title=The London Compendium|publisher=Books.google.co.uk|accessdate=21 December 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. The coffee bar was run by Jon Vickers-Jones who was the assistant manager. He would help with setting up the stage area for the musicians and would often record them rehearsing on a Grundig Tape recorder. 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/> In November 1956, Paul Lincoln opened a second venue, The New 2I’s2I's Club, which ran every weekend in the multi-scene cellar at 44 Gerrard Street.{{cn|date=September 2016}}
 
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 MusicBiz - 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, April 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=welch>{{cite book|last=Welch|first=Chris|year=2002|title=Peter Grant: The Man Who Led Zeppelin|location=London|publisher=Omnibus Press|page=19|isbn=0-7119-9195-2}}</ref>
 
The 2i's closed in 1967. It later became the Dome Café Bar and then the Boulevard Bar. The site then became The House of Ho, a modern Vietnamese restaurant owned by chef [[Bobby Chinn]].<ref>{{cite web|url=http://musicstorytellers.wordpress.com/the-history-of-the-2i%E2%80%99s-coffee-bar/|title=THE HISTORY OF THE 2i’s2i's COFFEE BAR|work=Musicstorytellers|accessdate=21 December 2014}}</ref><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> From July 2016 the site has been the Soho Poppies Fish & Chips restaurant.
 
==Legacy==
On 18 September 2006, a [[Blue plaque|Green Plaque]] was unveiled at the site of the 2i's Coffee Bar to commemorate its existence, and to celebrate 50 years of British [[rock and roll]].<ref name=birthplace/><ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.westminster.gov.uk/leisureandculture/greenplaques/ |title=Westminster City Council - Green Plaques Scheme |publisher=Westminster.gov.ukGovernment of the United Kingdom |date=2004-11-10 November 2004 |accessdate=2012-12-22 December 2012}}</ref>
 
[[Ringo Starr]] mentions "the 2i's Cafe" &ndash; "That's where Tommy Steele would play" &ndash; in the song "Rory and the Hurricanes" on his 2015 album [[Postcards from Paradise]].
 
==Resident groups==
* [[The Vipers Skiffle Group]] (July - September 1956)
* [[Tommy Steele]] (July - September 1956)
* The Soho Skiffle Group (late 1956)
* Les Hobeaux Skiffle Group (summer - late 1957)
* [[Terry Dene]] & The Dene Aces (late 1957 - early 1959)
* [[Adam Faith|The Worried Men]] (late 1957 - early 1959)
* [[Colin Hicks]] & The Cabin Boys (early 1958 - early 1959)
* [[Vince Eager|The Vagabonds]] (early - April 1958)
* [[Cliff Richard]] & [[The Shadows|The Drifters]] (early - summer 1958)
* [[Wally Whyton]] & The Vipers (May 1958 - early 1959)
* [[Vince Eager]] (summer 1958)
* [[Vince Taylor]] & the Playboys (early 1959 - summer 1960)
* The Jury (1961 - summer 1962)<ref name=birthplace/>
 
==References==
 
==External links==
* [http://www.classiccafes.co.uk/reportage1.htm Reportage Special: 2is legendary 50s Soho coffee bar] photographs.
* [http://www.joemoretti.org/page3.htm 2 I's Coffee Bar UK Studios by Joe Moretti]
* [http://www.carlolittle.com/hot/hot.htm Confessions of a Sixties Drummer by Carlo Little]