Wednesday, November 5, 2008

La Chasse

photo courtesy:
La Chasse was a ‘private’ drinking club on the first floor at 100 Wardour St. By the time I became a 'regular' (1972) it was practically on its last legs. It was owned by Jack Barrie, who also ran the Marquee Club, a few doors down the street. The seedy little one-room dive played host to (mainly) music biz luminaries ranging from Charisma Records’ chief and bon vivant, Tony Stratton-Smith to not quite so luminaries like Crackie and (one-eyed) Noj (Van Der Graaf Generator’s intrepid road-crew) with musos like Lee Jackson (formerly of the Nice, then of Jackson Heights), Lindisfarne, Phil Collins (most of the Charisma artists roster, in fact), folks like George Peckham, Bob Hill, John Anthony and other record producers, studio personnel, groupies and all kinds of ligger wrapped in between. In a recent article for the Mail Online, David Bowie said of his song The Bewlay Brothers, “I do believe that we finished the whole thing on that one night. It's likely that I ended up drinking at the Sombrero in Kensington High Street or possibly Wardour Street's crumbling La Chasse. Cool.”
Cited also as the birthplace of Yes (John Anderson met Chris Squire there), it was a short stroll from Trident Studios so, after work if I had any money in my pocket, I’d knock on the door, someone would unlock it and Roger would pour an over-priced Southern Comfort which I’d chase with a beer. I’d watch and listen, nursing those drinks for as long as possible. Talk would invariably be about new records, upcoming tours, untrustworthy managers, road stories, "got any skins?" etc. and later, the place would fill up after the Marquee had closed. When I say “fill up”, if the room had 30 people in it, it would be WAY over-crowded, as it was little more than an average sized living room, which is probably what it once was. And since everybody smoked back then, the atmosphere would be thick and cloying. I went there to feel ‘part of’ a scene (however low-rent), and was under the impression I'd been given a ‘membership’ because I worked at Trident, London's grooviest studio. It took me a while (in my naïveté) to realize Jack had certain designs...on me, so occasionally, I’d spend time trying to fend off his nefarious advances. One night, a nice-looking gal with an indecent figure dropped a fiver on the floor and, in picking it up, made it quite clear she wasn’t wearing any knickers. Even Roger saw it from his side of the bar and nodded to me as if to say, “you’re in there". Turns out he was right, and the resulting experience in a crowded bed-sit in Queensway was splendidly squalid. Alice Cooper’s ‘Under My Wheels’ was always getting played on the jukebox, along with other classic pop & soul hits of the day. I heard a rumor that Keith Moon fell out of the window onto Wardour Street, a floor below, but I don't know if it's true. Maybe it was the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's 'Legs' Larry Smith. I’m pretty sure I read once that Moony and Viv Stanshall (also from Bonzos) had been drinking at La Chasse the night they roamed the West End, dressed like this:-
Keith Moon & Vivian Stanshall
photo: Barrie Wentzell



George said...

Hey, You brought back some very fond memories, of plenty of drunken nights doing the rounds ,Ship Pub to see Sid and Lilah (Owners)then the La Chasse,then the Marquee, and then the Ship again, if you hadn't then pulled it was off to the Speakeasy to finish the night or(earlly morning)or basically yourself off and Knackered.
Great Memories cheers George Peckham (Porkys).

ht said...

hey George!!! Good to hear from you. I had fun reading your Apple memories that I found online when I was researching my "disc cutting" posting. I hope this finds you well and happy. When I'm back in London, I usually have a beer or two at The Ship. Indeed, great memories..."kip"

Anonymous said...

I used to frequent the chasse and the ship pub before and after visiting the marquee.mainly got to see and meet spooky tooth,the move,Richard shermans attack,the nice,pink Floyd and others.usually with girlfriend Doreen and her mates plus my brother and other mates.great times,great time.still pop into the ship or the George when in London for a pint.