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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Brixton Academy & The Smiths
The Smiths last ever gig took place here in 1986
Location: 211 Stockwell Road, SW9 9SL
Description: The Brixton Academy, officially called O2 Academy, Brixton, is one of London's leading music venues, nightclubs and theatres - the building has hosted a range of leading rock acts since becoming a music venue in 1983. The maximum capacity is 4,921.
The venue started life as a cinema and theatre in 1929 on the site of a private garden in Stockwell Road. It was built at a cost of 250,000 pounds as an 'Astoria' theatre. The opening show was the Al Jolson film The Singing Fool, followed by a variety act, including Heddle Nash and Derek Oldham which was broadcast by the BBC. The building still retains many of its original features, including the proscenium arch and Art Deco interior.
The Astoria eventually closed its doors as a cinema on 29 July 1972. It was then converted into the Sundown Centre rock venue in September 1972, but was not a success and the Sundown closed down some four months later. In May 1974 planning permission was sought to demolish the Grade II listed building and replace it with a motor showroom and petrol station. However the redevelopment scheme was scrapped. The building was kept heated after it closed, and was used as an equipment store by the Rank Organisation.
In 1981, The Astoria, remodelled by Sean Treacy, who later ran the entire site services, was re-opened as a rock venue called 'The Fair Deal' with a concert by UB40 and an interior restoration, but the venue closed in 1982 due to debt. The venue was bought by Simon Parkes in 1983 and in the same year re-opened as Brixton Academy.
The Academy's success steadily grew throughout the 1980s with numerous reggae productions and it was hired out to major rock and pop acts such as Eric Clapton, Dire Straits & The Police for rehearsal. The venue was also used for video shoots for Wham and Culture Club.
It also hosted 'The Smiths' last ever gig on 12 December 1986.
This concert, put together as a benefit for the Artists Against Apartheid, was originally due to be held at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 November 1986 but it had to be rescheduled following Johnny Marr's car accident. It turned out to be the last time the Smiths were on stage together, bar a few television appearances.
It looked like an amazing, amazing gig - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2FMeoU0hmk
Tagged in this Tour: Moz & The Smiths