The Apollo was a music venue at 126 Renfield Street in Glasgow city centre, Scotland. The Apollo operated from 5 September 1973 until closure on 16 June 1985 and was Glasgow's leading music venue during this period. The Apollo was a re-brand of the previous Green's Playhouse in the same building. The Green family owned Green's Playhouse cinema at 126 Renfield Street. It was thought to be the largest cinema in Europe at the time but was in decline. Unicorn Leisure leased a discothèque named Clouds in the top floor of the building. Unicorn included management of Billy Connolly in their portfolio. On hearing the Green family were considering converting the dis-repaired venue into a bingo hall or demolishing the venue for a completely new development, Unicorn applied to lease the building which they felt had potential as a music venue. They bought a job lot of 3,000 cinema seats and re-upholstered the 'Golden Divans' in the balcony. "Apollo" was chosen as the name of the re-branded venue so to mitigate the cost of letters for which the sign company charged £250 per letter.
The first two concerts at The Apollo were performed by Johnny Cash on 5 & 6 September 1973. The venue was quickly attractive to the public responding to booking of popular performers of the time who spoke favourably of the atmosphere generated by the exuberant crowds. The ballroom operated above the main concert auditorium, originally known as "Clouds", following various name changes that included "Satellite City" and "The Penthouse". The ballroom became a music venue for up-coming and relatively lesser-known contemporary bands, such as Simple Minds, Elvis Costello, Sham 69 and The Rich Kids. These were unable to attract a large enough paying audience to fill the concert venue.
The venue was known for the atmosphere generated by its enthusiastic crowds, a 15 ft 6 in high stage (often exaggerated and misreported) that sloped down towards the audience and "bouncy balcony" designed and built so that it would move up and down, a feature put to the test by concert-goers, who would jump up and down in it to get it to bounce. Francis Rossi (Status Quo) refers to this in a portion of audience chat on their Live! album recorded there, where he says "Those people at the top, on the balcony, [we] can only see you when the lights go up there. Get the balcony to move about a bit and they'll [the sound/road crew] all be running about and shitting themselves. Nice bunch of fellas, but very very scared of balconies!" Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers said the stage was "the only one in our career where we said if anyone got onstage from the audience, they could stay. They'd earned it." Andy Summers of The Police in his autobiography "One Train Later" wrote "Back in the dressing room, drenched in sweat and sitting among piles of little tartan-wrapped presents, we remarked about the bouncing balcony, amazed that the whole thing didn't collapse." The venue was used for numerous live album recordings and was used as either opening or closing venue by many performers visiting the UK from America. The management team for the Ramones have subsequently said the Apollo was the Ramones' favourite venue.
Despite the Apollo's success as a music venue, the building was in a poor condition and its structure was gradually deteriorating. Maintenance was undertaken only on a "make-do" basis. In mid-1977 the owner of Unicorn Leisure relocated to Florida. The lease for the venue was acquired by the Apollo Leisure Group. The new leaseholders experienced considerable problems with the buildings structural condition and later considered relinquishing the lease in 1978, with Mecca Bingo expressing interest in the acquisition of the building. A successful campaign to preserve the building's status as a music venue included a 100,000 signature petition including support from Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. The resumption was to herald a seven-year downward spiral until the venue finally closed for business on 16 June 1985. The Style Council were the final performers on the bill. The building was demolished in September 1987 following a fire that rendered the building structurally unsafe.
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