Monday, December 05, 2016

Marvin Gaye in Deptford at Cheeks nightclub

This picture has been doing the rounds on facebook, pinterest etc. and has caused some excitement as it purports to show soul legend Marvin Gaye dancing in Deptford - the caption actually says 'Marvin Gaye - Cheeks Club - Deptford -1980' with the photographer given as Richard Young.

This seems too good to be true - is it for real? The photographer Richard Young is well known for celebrity/society nightclubbing shots, and definitely photographed Marvin Gaye in London (his website includes a 1981 shot of Gaye at Stringfellows). The origin of the image circulating online with the Deptford caption seems to be a Sunday Times article on Young from October 2014 - the online edition doesn't include the Marvin Gaye photo, but I gather it was included as extra content on the tablet edition.  So there doesn't seem to be any reason to doubt the caption, which would have been based on the photograph's metadata as supplied to the paper.  The context of the article was that Young had just published a collection of his photographs in a book, Nightclubbing, which is available  from the Richard Young Gallery. Not sure if the book includes the Deptford photo, but I am hoping that the fact that I am advertising it and only using the image for non-commercial local history interest will reassure the gallery - but of course will take it down if requested.

©  Richard Young Gallery

It is well documented that Marvin Gaye did live in London for a while in 1980/81, in a bit of a bad way with cocaine addiction, before moving to Belgium. So that makes the Deptford visit plausible.

And what of Cheeks? This was a nightclub at 18 Deptford Broadway that opened in 1980 (the following advert for bar staff at 'South London's newest club' is from The Stage, 21 August 1980).  I believe that the recently departed Harry Haward, sometime gangster associate and later pensioners rights campaigner, was involved in running the club.


Another article in The Stage apologised for suggesting that the club was 'failing as a disco to attract sufficient custom' and stated that it was 'licensed for 550 people'. As mentioned here before, posters for the opening night of Cheeks can be seen briefly in the 1980 film 'Babylon' 


Later the club was renamed Champs - this advert is from the Illustrated London News 1 June 1988 and is for 'Planet Rok Brutal Rave' there on Thursday night promising 'flare grooves':



So yes, Cheeks nightclub was going in Deptford in 1980/81, and Marvin Gaye was living in London in that period. Then there's also the supporting evidence that he had been spotted in Deptford another time-  Tom Fawcett, editor of Artrocker,  tweeted in 2014:  'I met Marvin Gaye once, in a pub in Deptford High St. He was there to see a band I was playing trombone for. Very odd'.

So lets's say its true, would be good though to have some eye wtiness confirmation. Mind you, somebody else claimed on facebook that Diana Ross also once visited Cheeks and (less surprizingly) Adam Ant. Tell us more!

Update 8 December 2016:

Interesting detail in comment posted by Mark Cathcart. He notes that Greg Edwards is mentioned in one of the Cheeks articles - presumably the DJ of Capital Radio Soul Spectrum fame. According to Mark 'Greg's day job was the distributor of Philadelphia Records in the UK(I think) he almost certainly would have had contact with Marvin'.

Actually, Greg also worked for CBS who Marvin Gaye was signed to at this time. So there's a possible explanation for Marvin being in Deptford - maybe Greg, who he would probably have met through the record company wsa DJing and in any event seems to have had some link to Cheeks.

8 comments:

Bill Ellson said...

Hopefully somebody will recognise the young woman in the photograph. She might be able to shed some light on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I knew people that used to hang out with him in the 4 Aces in Dalston, they used to do all the Jamaican clubs as well as the west end, personally I can't remember any good clubs up west bar Heaven and warehouse gigs, so there is no good reason that Deptford wasn't on the tour, you might of thought he went to the Albany or was that when they were rebuilding after the fire?

markcathcart.com said...

is the "Greg Edwards" mentioned in the retratction about Cheeks, Greg Edwards formally of Capitol Radio Soul Spectrum likely to be the same person?

If yes, then its likely to be true. Gregs day job was the distributor of Philadelphia Records in the UK(I think) he almost certainly would have had contact with Marvin. I interned for Greg at Capitol in spring 1976.

Transpontine said...

Thanks Mark, actually Greg also worked for CBS who Marvin Gaye was signed to in early 1980s so that may well have been the connection.

Neil Breeden said...

I met Marvin a few times in the 1980's as I was illustrating the cover for his last Motown album "In Our Lifetime". Whenever I saw him he seemed to have been at the Embassy Club in Mayfair the night before. On one occasion we were watching Top of the Pops in his Hendon apartment and, the night before, I think he had tried to get off with one of the girls from Odyssey. He had also had a very awkward meeting with David Essex who tried to pull celebrity ranking on Marvin by asking him to come over to his table in the club.
While watching TOPS and Diana Ross, in particular, and it was just me and him,he confessed that he couldn't understand why he had never had a relationship with Diana Ross. I think he was very fond of her and found her really attractive but it had never happened.
I found him a very humble and modest man which maybe was contrary to his image.

John Eden said...

Also, randomly, an anarchopunk connection with Cheeks!

From the notes to Conflicts' 1993 "Conclusion?" album:

"CONCLUSION ?
During the past few years of silence Conflict members have been in various splinter groups and recording projects.

Members have also arranged concerts / festivals and recently taken control of a London based venue "Mort 1000", (18 Deptford Broadway, London, SE8), which will be available for concerts from February 1994."

frenchie said...

I was talking to Harry Haywards widow today Sharon.
Mr Hayward as many will know was part owner of the club
she confirmed that Marvin Gaye did indeed visit this club in Deptford as the
picture shows as she was there
She still has the shop in Deptford hight street which her and harry had run
Harry as said sadly is no longer with us, a great character and one of the last of a dying breed
Sharon also said she recalled Jools Holland a local lad and Bob Geldof attending the club in its day and also Olivia Newton John !
Wonder if any pics of these are knocking about

Rick Burton said...

I was at Cheeks Club in Deptford when I met Marvin Gaye! This was the opening night of the club( my friend John Williamson was the manager). Marvin had been at The Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, where I worked earlier in the week rehearsing for his UK tour.(Which would include one night at The Rainbow)This was early June 1980.