The UFO Club
was a famous but shortlived UK underground club in London during the 1960s, venue of performances by many of the top bands of the day. The UFO Club (pronounced U-fo) was founded by John "Hoppy" Hopkins
and Joe Boyd
in an Irish dancehall called the "Blarney Club" in the basement of 31 Tottenham Court Road, under Berkeley Cinema and opposite the Dominion Theatre.
The club opened on December 23 1966. Initially the club was advertised as "UFO Presents Night Tripper". This had been because Boyd and Hopkins could not decide on "UFO" or "Night Tripper" as a name for their club. Eventually they settled on "UFO."
Opening night, the UFO "house band" Pink Floyd
were booked for the first two Fridays, and then re-engaged as the club carried on into 1967 after its initial success. Initial events combined live music with light shows, avant garde films and slide shows and dance troupes.
As Pink Floyd's fame grew they were able to play bigger venues for higher fees. Boyd protested that their increasing fame was largely due to the success of UFO, but the band's management wanted to move on and an agreement was made for just three more Floyd performances at UFO, at an increased fee.
Hopkins and Boyd had to cast around for a new "house band" for UFO. They settled on Soft Machine but also started booking other acts who were attracted by the club's reputation. Amongst them were The Incredible String Band, Arthur Brown, Tomorrow, and Procol Harum, who played there when "A Whiter Shade of Pale" was No 1 in the charts.
Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, consisting of Michael English and Nigel Waymouth, designed psychedelic posters
to advertise events.
The UFO Club’s success was its downfall — being too small to accommodate the increasing number of visitors. The crunch came in June 1967, when the club moved into The Roundhouse for a few months but, despite the building being almost derelict, the rent was exorbitant. If a big name such as Jeff Beck was playing, UFO broke even, but the club usually lost money. In October 1967 the UFO Club at the Roundhouse folded.