UFO Club

UFO Club

The UFO Club was a famous but shortlived UK underground club in London during the 1960s, venue of performances by many of the top bands of the day.


The UFO Club was founded by John Hopkins (usually known as "Hoppy") and Joe Boyd in an Irish dancehall called the "Blarney Club" in the basement of 31 Tottenham Court Road, under "Berkeley Cinema" and opposite the Dominion Theatre. It opened on December 23 1966. Initially the club was advertised as "UFO Presents Night Tripper". This had been because Boyd and Hopkins could not decide on "UFO" or "Night Tripper" as a name for their club.Boyd, Joe, "White Bicycles - Making Music in the 1960s", Serpent's Tail, 2006. ISBN 1-85242-910-0] Eventually they settled on "UFO".

The original arrangement with the Blarney Club was for the last two Fridays of December. Boyd and Hopkins had started the club because they were in need of cash, and they were unsure as to how large a crowd they would attract. But, as Boyd later wrote, "freaks came out of the woodwork from all over the city and we made a profit." .

Pink Floyd were booked for the first two Fridays, and then re-engaged as the club carried on into 1967 after its initial success. Initial events combined live music with light shows, avant garde films and slide shows, dance troupes and even "spot the fuzz" competitions as attention from plain clothes police units increased.

Pink Floyd's tenure at UFO was short run. As their fame grew they were able to play bigger venues for higher fees. Boyd protested that their increasing fame was largely due to the success of UFO, but the band's management wanted to move on and an agreement was made for just three more Floyd performances at UFO, at an increased fee.

Hopkins and Boyd had to cast around for a new "house band" for UFO. They settled on Soft Machine but also started booking other acts who were attracted by the club's reputation. Amongst them were The Incredible String Band, Arthur Brown, Tomorrow, and Procol Harum, who played there when "A Whiter Shade of Pale" was No 1 in the charts. Other artists appeared unexpectedly: for instance on April 28 1967, Jimi Hendrix turned up as part of the audience, and then jammed with Tomorrow, who led the bill.

An advertisement featuring the Flammarion woodcut in the Feb 13–26 issue of "The International Times" for "UfOria! Festival of Love 10.30 till dawn" [sic] announced "feb.10 — the bonzo dog doodah band • flix–dali–bunuel • ginger johnson african drums" as well as "feb 17 — soft machinemark boyle projections • movies • food • erogenius 3 + 4".

Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, consisting of Michael English and Nigel Waymouth, designed psychedelic posters to advertise events.

The UFO Club’s success was its downfall — being too small to accommodate the increasing number of visitors. The crunch came in June 1967, when Hopkins was imprisoned for drug offences. Police pressure on the club increased in the following weeks, and the landlords revoked the lease. The club moved into The Roundhouse for a few months but, despite the building being almost derelict, the rent was exorbitant. If a big name such as Jeff Beck was playing, UFO broke even, but the club usually lost money. In October 1967 the UFO Club at the Roundhouse folded.Fact|date=July 2007

UFO Club billings

* Dec 23/30: Freakout under Berkeley Cinema; Warhol movies; Pink Floyd sounds; Anger movies; Heating warm; IT god
* Jan 13: Pink Floyd; Marilyn Monroe movie; The Sun Trolley; Technicolor strobe; Fiveacre slides; Karate
* Jan 20: Pink Floyd; Anger movie
* Jan 27: AMM Music; Pink Floyd; Five Acre Light; Flight of the Aerogenius Chpt 1; International Times; IT Girl Beauty Contest
* Feb 3: Soft Machine; Brown's Poetry; Flight of the Aerogenius Chpt 2; Bruce Connor Movies
* Feb 10: Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band; Ginger Johnson; Bank Dick WC Fields
* Feb 17: Soft Machine; Indian Music; Disney Cartoons; Mark Boyle Feature Movie
* Feb 24: Pink Floyd; Brothers Grimm
* Mar 3: Soft Machine
* Mar 10: Pink Floyd
* Mar 17: St Patrick's day off
* Mar 24: Soft Machine
* Mar 31: Crazy World of Arthur Brown; Pink Alberts; 'spot the fuzz contest'
* Apr 7: Soft Machine
* Apr 14: Arthur Brown; Social Deviants; Special: the fuzz
* Apr 21: Pink Floyd
* Apr 28: Tomorrow; The Purple Gang
* (Apr 29/30: 14-Hour Technicolor Dream at the Alexandra Palace)
* May 5: Soft Machine; Arthur Brown
* May 12: Graham Bond Organisation; Procol Harum
* May 19: Tomorrow; Arthur Brown; The People Show
* May 26: The Move
* Jun 2: Pink Floyd
* Jun 9: Procol Harum; The Smoke
* Jun 16: Crazy World of Arthur Brown; Soft Machine; The People Blues Band 4.30am
* Jun 23: Liverpool Love Festival
* Jun 30: Tomorrow; The Knack
* Jul 7: Denny Laine; Pretty Things
* Jul 14: Arthur Brown; Alexis Korner; Victor Brox
* Jul 21: Tomorrow; Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
* Jul 28: Pink Floyd; CIA v UFO; Fairport Convention
* Aug 4: Eric Burdon; Family
* Aug 11: Tomorrow
* Aug 18: Arthur Brown; Incredible String Band
* Sep 1/2: UFO Festival: Pink Floyd; Soft Machine; The Move; Arthur Brown; Tomorrow; Denny Laine
* Sep 8: Eric Burdon & The New Animals; Aynsley Dunbar
* Sep 15: Soft Machine; Family
* Sep 22: Dantalion's Chariot w Zoot Money & His Light Show; The Social Deviants; The Exploding Galaxy
* Sep 29: Jeff Beck; Ten Years After; Mark Boyle's New Sensual Laboratory; Contessa Veronica


There was also a UFO Club in Berlin started in 1988 by the electronic music label Interfisch. UFO was the original centre of Berlin house and techno music, but due to financial problems that club closed in 1990.

After UFO closed, Interfisch's head, Dimitri Hegemann and some investors in the club found the new space in East Berlin. This was advantageous timing, as it was only a few months before Germany unified. The vaults under the Wertheim department store proved to be the perfect location for a new club, and Tresor quickly became the place to be in Berlin


Further reading

* Boyd, Joe, "White Bicycles - Making Music in the 1960s", Serpent's Tail. 2007. ISBN 978-1-85242-489-3

* Miles, Barry: "In the Sixties". (London 2002)

* Green, Jonathon: "Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground, 1961-71" (London 1998)

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