Hammersmith Apollo in danger of closure?
The future of Hammersmith Apollo as a live music venue is under threat from a property developer who wants to turn it into a giant furniture warehouse.
Sheik Farhi Erl Pitts, who made his riches building and furnishing skyscrapers in Dubai, has tabled a £75 million bid for the iconic West London venue, which is owned jointly by AEG Live and Eventim.
“I have great affection for the Hammersmith Apollo – or Odeon, as I prefer to call it,” said Farhi Erl Pitts. “As a rock fan myself I have seen many great gigs there, including Kiss in 1976. But with the live music scene in the doldrums, I believe the Apollo’s days in its current guise are numbered.”
Talking about his plans to convert the Apollo into a giant furniture warehouse, Farhi Erl Pitts said:
“This part of West London is currently undergoing massive redevelopment and regeneration, with many new houses and apartments being built. I feel there will be great future demand in Hammersmith and its environs for furniture of all shapes and sizes.
“But I will do my best to preserve some of this great building’s rock’n’roll identity,” he vowed. “Our bed department, for example, will be called No Sleep Til Hammersmith. I will also sub-let part of our floorspace to World Of Leather, and get my good friend Rob Halford to attend the grand opening. Plus any band who recorded a live album there will be able to claim a free three-piece suite.”
The venue was opened in 1932 as the Gaumont Palace cinema, Hammersmith and seated over 3,500 people. It was designed by Robert Cromie in the Art Deco style. The building was rebranded the Hammersmith Odeon in 1962, a name many people still use along with term “Hammy-O”. Its name was changed to the Apollo in the mid-1990s.
A campaign is being launched to try to prevent Sheik Farhi Erl Pitts’ takeover. Hammersmith resident Frank Dobbs, a former roadie for the Pink Fairies, has taken up the baton.
“The Apollo is steeped in rock’n'roll history and we cannot allow it to be sold to a shyster like Farhi Erl Pitts,” Dobbs raged. “In the coming weeks I shall unveil the full details of my plans. However, I have already enlisted the help of Larry Wallis [Pink Fairies/early Motörhead guitarist], who will be busking outside the venue while it stages Wallace And Gromit’s Musical Marvels over the Easter weekend. Any money deposited in Larry’s flat cap will be used to fund the anti-Sheik campaign.”
AEG Live and Eventim, Hammersmith Apollo’s co-owners, have yet to comment officially on the Sheik’s £75 million bid. But an insider told Classic Rock they would find such a sum “hard to resist”.
Tags: Hammersmith Apollo