Ronnie Scott's

George Melly explores the history of the world's best known jazz club.



The origins of Ronnie Scott's legendary club as a place for musicians to play, inspired by the clubs of 52nd Street in Manhattan. Featuring the ground-breaking first appearance of an American soloist Zoot Sims, performing with a British rhythm section.
With recordings made at the club in Gerrard Street by Peter King, Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott himself.


From 1961, Ronnie Scott's was able to attract a glittering line-up of American jazz stars - some of whom, like Ben Webster and Roland Kirk, made recordings at the club. Ronnie's proprietor Pete King recalls the negotiations for these appearances and Stan Tracey describes the demands that celebrated soloists such as Stan Getz made on the house musicians.


By 1965, the success of Ronnie Scott's forced Ronnie and his partner Pete King to find larger premises. One of those who became a regular at the 'new place' in Frith Street was Princess Margaret, a great admirer of Oscar Peterson.
Another was Kenneth Clarke, a fan of hard bop and Ronnie's comedy routines, though he was less taken by the food served at the club. Among the performers who took the stand were Buddy Rich with his big band, Mike Westbrook, Weather Report and Sarah Vaughan - who made a recording at the club in 1977.

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In the words of the club's founder, Ronnie Scott's offers nightly masterclasses in the art of jazz. Two British musicians who attended regularly were trumpeter Guy Barker and pianist Django Bates.
Over the years, the club's fortunes have ebbed and flowed, as the proprietor Pete King reveals, but whether the featured act is Dizzie Gillespie, Irakere or the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, Ronnie's remains a club run by musicians for musicians.