The Club Today
Luxury – Uniqueness – Heritage – this is what makes Bag O’Nails the place it is – an entertainment and club experience like no other. Bag O’Nails carries forward a significant heritage from the ‘Swinging Sixties’, when it was known as a legendary rock music venue and celebrity hangout in London.
The Bag O’Nails club has hosted world famous musicians such as Jimi Hendrix in 1966, the Beatles in 1967, the Stones, Eric Clapton, Elton John and many more. The current ‘façade’ and interior is a nod to its musical heyday and to the wealth of rock music legends who used to frequent the club – the ultimate celebrity hangout.
Early 2013 sees our doors re-open as a high-end Private Members Club. Carrying the ‘spirit’ and the ‘heritage’ forward from the ‘Swinging Sixties’ – live performances are the heartbeat of Bag O’Nails. Our state of the art sound system and professional entertainment team cater for all tastes. From jazz to soul, R&B and classic, burlesque to karaoke, and funky DJ nights.
We don’t like to name drop, but…
The likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Brian Epstein, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, The Hollies, The Small Faces, The Animals, John McVie and Lulu, just to name a few, were musicians who hung out here to party or to attend gigs, some of them groundbreaking like the Jimi Hendrix first ever UK gig back in 1966.
The place to be
Intimate and atmospheric, the club welcomes you to indulge in luxury. Located on Kingly Street just off the famous and bustling Carnaby Street, Bag O’Nails is an ideal venue for corporate events, family gatherings and birthday parties, or simply to come and enjoy a night out with friends, high quality food, premium drinks and above all, entertainment in an exclusive haven. We even offer a top end entertainment kit backed up with one of the best sound systems in London.
The club accommodates 70-75 guests seated +/-100 standing. The wood panelled walls, burgundy coloured booths and dim lights create a warm and inviting ambience.
Whilst members can embark onto a memorable and unique musical journey, they can also enjoy fine wines, rare cognacs (some dating back to 1811), sophisticated canapés, champagnes, spirits and above all, a personalised service.
On the ground floor we also have a snug private dining room which members can use for lunch, dinner, champagne reception, business meeting or networking event. To enquire about membership to the Bag O’Nails club, or to discuss a private event please contact a member of the team.
1960’s – 1970’s
The swinging 60’s
Undoubtedly the most famous period of the club was the 60’s and its emerging rock music scene. At this time Soho was full of small clubs, bars and restaurants, and with its close proximity to Carnaby Street, the Bag O’Nails was a mecca for the fashion and music scene. It was one of the music venues that formed part of the Swinging 60’s scene in London – being a popular venue for some of the famous names of the period.
The Bag O’Nails was run by two brothers, Rik and John Gunnell, who had been part of the club scene and made a name for themselves by launching this new venue with live music from up and coming names.
Among the now famous names who performed at the Bag O’Nails was Jimi Hendrix who played his debut gig in the UK in November 1966 using the club’s DJ booth, which remains as it was when he appeared at the club and still in use today. The assembled audience that night was to experience the drums, guitar and bass of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the like of which had never been seen or heard before. It is now regarded as one of the most important breakthrough performances of all time; Hendrix captivated, dazzled and occasionally startled the listeners.
Tom Jones was also known to frequent ‘The Bag’, as it was sometimes affectionately called, becoming used to the champagne lifestyle that was the essence of the club. Other elite of the 60’s music scene could be found there, such as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Lulu and Mike Jagger, feasting on the club’s steak, chips and mushy peas late at night. It also attracted many other important names of the times from artists to models, because it was one the place to be seen in during the 60’s.
Perhaps the Bag O’Nails most well-known claim to fame is being the meeting place for Linda Eastman and Paul McCartney. The club was a favourite of the Beatle and it was here that they both attended a Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames gig on 15 May 1967. This as history knows, was to become a successful marriage and musical partnership until Linda’s untimely death in 1998.
Rumour has it…
Many famous couples met at the Bag O’Nails club, and some had intentions of making it to the altar: In 1968, just three weeks before his proposed wedding, Elton John was having a drink with Long John Baldry (who was to be his best man) and Bernie Taupin. While at the club they both tried to dissuade him from marrying his ‘fiancée.’ Baldry is alleged, to have gone and on at Elton all evening and convinced him not to go through with it.
Another couple reputed to have met for the first time at the club was John and Christine McVie, later to become part of another successful singing band – Fleetwood Mac.
1940’s – 1950’s
And all that jazz
Many of the clubs where music was played were the haunts of fledgling jazz musicians such as Jimmy Skidmore and Kenny Baker. The Nest Club, The Bag O’Nails, Shim-Sham Club and The Cuba Club are names that feature over and over again in jazz history from this period.
One of the features of the war years was the presence on the London club scene of a number of exiled West Indian swing/jazz musicians. Prominent players included Dave Wilkins, Leslie ‘Jiver’ Hutchinson, Frank Deniz, Yorke de Souza, Lauderic Caton, Carl Barriteau and Bertie King. They remained after the war ended and some of them in the fledgling bop scene as bands.
The Downbeat Club
The Downbeat Club was a separate club that opened in the Bag O’Nails premises every Sunday afternoon from February 1948, but only lasted for six months. Regarded as having an exciting atmosphere it often featured the Tito Burns Band as well as various pick-up bop groups. It was here that Ray “Duke” Ellington made his debut with his quartet. In 1946, Pete Chilver joined Ellington and was playing with him at the Bag O’Nails when two great names of the jazz world, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli came in to listen to their performance.
1920’s – 1930’s
Transforming London nightlife
The 1920’s changed London’s West End by transforming its nightlife. By the end of the decade, over 50 licensed night clubs were operating around London, many patronised by upper class socialites. Some just provided a dance floor and others offered cabaret. Famous clubs included the Kit Cat Club, The Bag O’Nails and Coconut Grov
The Bag O’Nails Club was in the basement of 9 Kingly Street and was a well known music hangout of the 1930’s. A profile written about it just before WW2 said “hundreds of well known musicians have busked on its rostrum.” It is to the history of British swing music what Hampton Court is to the history of England. It is a show stop of promising musicians and the rendez-vous of those who had made it.
At some point in the mid thirties many bands played at the old Bag O’ Nails, some of their nightly repertoires included Jimmy Dorsey originals like ‘Oodles of Noodles’ and ’Beebe’. The pianist was Harold Hood who later joined Nat Gonella’s Georgians, a small jazz group which enjoyed considerable success between 1935 and 1939.
Jazz players Buddy Featherstonhaugh and Teddy Joyce formed part of the house band of the Bag O’ Nails.
The Anthony Powell novel A Dance of the Music of Time gives reference to The Bag O’Nails. The book provides an excellent description of 1930’s nightlife from the 1920’s & 1970’s.