Ad Lib club: It happened here

  • Ad Lib club: It happened here

    7 Leicester Place, W1, once the home of the Ad Lib club

  • March 27, 1965. When the lift door opened onto the Ad Lib club on the top floor of 7 Leicester Place, W1, another door opened onto a whole new world of possibilities for pop music. John Lennon and George Harrison were tripping on LSD for the first time.

    The two Beatles, along with their partners, had been for dinner at the Bayswater home of a dentist friend. After they had eaten they repaired to the drawing room where, without their knowledge, four acid-laced sugar cubes were dropped into their coffees. When the drug – and the fear – took hold they quickly fled in George’s brand new Mini. ‘Our host seemed to turn into a demon, we were all terrified,’ recalled Cynthia Lennon. ‘We knew it was something evil. We had to get out of the house.’

    They decided to head for the Ad Lib, then the hangout for pop-stars such as the Stones and The Kinks, fashion designers Mary Quant and Jean Muir and actresses Hayley Mills and Julie Christie; it was even visited on occasion by Princess Margaret. The music policy was exclusively black American soul and blues records and the door policy was even stricter. Although the Ad Lib was the crucible of Britain’s peace ’n’ love movement, its time in the sun was short-lived. In November of the following year – by which time it had already been dropped by the Swinging London set in favour of The Scotch Of St James in Mason’s Yard or The Bag O’Nails in Kingly Street – the Ad Lib was mocked during John’s knowing appearance on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s ‘Not Only… But Also’ when he played the doorman of ‘London’s most fashionable lavatory spot’, the Ad Lav club, in reality the underground public toilets in Broadwick Street.

  • Add your comment to this feature