From CBGB to Four Aces & Beyond


There’s a newly published book From CBGB to the Roundhouse that any fan of live music of any sort, from Rock ‘n’ Roll, Northern Soul, Punk to Reggae, will find interesting as it details various music venues around the globe and the role those same venues play in helping to popularize certain styles or scenes and music as a whole.

What’s most interesting to readers of this blog is the section on London’s Four Aces Club (read an excerpt below), which we discussed HERE back in November. As mentioned then The Four Aces Club held shows by Desmond Dekker, Prince Buster, Jimmy Cliff, Ann Peebles, Percy Sledge, Ben E King and Billy Ocean, then in the 1970s Bob Marley, Chrissie Hynde, The Slits, Sex Pistols and Bob Dylan. Plenty of history there!

An excerpt of From CBGB to the Roundhouse, a trawl around the toilet circuit and beyond, by Tim Burrows:

The Four Aces in Hackney opened in 1966 on the site of an old Victorian theatre built to house Robert Fossett’s Circus in 1886 on Dalston Lane. By the 1970s the club had become a centre for West Indians in cultural exile, attracting people from around the UK. In manager Newton Dunbar’s view it was successful because it offered a ‘ready-made opiate to alleviate the stresses of what was happening in the world.’

Black youths all over London began to learn about the Four Aces, including south Londoner Dennis Bovell, bass player in London-based reggae band Matumbi. Bovell has since produced such artists as The Slits, Bananarama, Fela Kuti and Linton Kwesi Johnson, but in the early 1970s he was just starting out. “Three or four of us went there in about ’71 or ’72 with our soundsystem, Sufferers Hi Fi,’ he recalls. ‘A friend had just passed his driving test and acquired his first car, so it was quite easy to get there from Wandsworth.”


I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.