The Cromwellian started off as an illegal gambling den used by John Aspinall but after gambling was legalised it became a gambling club owned by a group of wrestlers who also dabbled in rock and pop promotion.
They had to move the casino upstairs after rivals threw a firebomb through the window. The bar was on the ground floor and the discotheque was in the basement.
There were in effect two shifts in the disco. The first shift was for the everyday punters who came to gamble, drink, dance and get home by midnight.
This picture is of the Ready Steady Go! dancers monopolising the dance floor during the early shift. They were tremendously fit and athletic. RSG! was a very popular music programme on TV and Jimi was on the second from last programme before it finished. Here he is doing the recording for the show wearing the shirt I bought him for his 24th birthday.
This is the same shirt he wore on the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album cover.
Later on, after they had finished their gigs, musicians and the late night crowd would come and relax and I was the late night DJ playing slower more relaxing numbers that they requested. I was employed because I already knew the musicians. Sometimes people would jam if they were feeling energetic.
There was a house band consisting of Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, Vic Briggs, Rick Brown, and Clive Thacker. Then Long John Baldry, Elton Dean, Caleb Quaye and Reg Dwight were involved. I think Rod Stewart was involved at some time as well. Not long after this Dwight changed his name using the first names of two of his fellow band members and became Elton John.
Chris Farlowe, Eric Burdon, Georgie Fame, The Kinks and Eric Clapton were all regulars sometimes getting up to jam.
The first times Jimi jammed in London were at the Scotch of St. James on the day he arrived and then again a couple of days later. Then on the 29th September he jammed with Brian Auger at the Cromwellian when Johnny Hallyday saw him and decided to have him on a French tour.
I took Jimi down there a few times after that including after we had visited Little Richard and been stopped by the Special Patrol Group. Chas used to come along sometimes.
This picture is of Eric Burdon and Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits at the entrance to the Cromwellian. Keith Moon used to tease poor Peter mercilessly for no reason whatsoever but Peter was very patient and tolerant. I describe it in my book.
Things moved on and the places for musicians to go to changed to the Scotch of St. James, The Bag O’ Nails and The Speakeasy (I had DJed at the Scotch as well for a while). The Cromwellian carried on for a number of years very successfully but it never regained the reputation with musicians it had in ’66 and ’67.
To obtain my eBook click here