The Flamingo Club in Wardour Street and the fight between Johnny Edgecombe and ‘Lucky’ Gordon

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames at The Flamingo Club

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames at The Flamingo Club

It’s not widely known but Georgie Fame was slightly connected to the Profumo affair, the political scandal that led to the resignation of John Profumo the Secretary of State for War in October 1963 and ultimately the fall of the Conservative government, a year later, in 1964.

In 1962 Georgie Fame had started a three year residency at The Flamingo Club – famous for its weekend all-nighters where it stayed open ’til six in the morning on Friday and Saturday nights. It was situated at 33 Wardour Street, a building which also housed the Wag Club during the eighties and nineties, and is now the Irish-theme pub O’Neills.

The police outside The Flamingo in Wardour Street

The police outside The Flamingo in Wardour Street

The Flamingo Club which originally specialised in modern jazz was opened by Rik and John Gunnell in 1959. The club quickly became popular with West Indians and also black American soldiers that were still stationed in quite large numbers just outside London and who had few other places to socialise. Georgie Fame once recalled:

“there were only a handful of hip young white people that used to go to The Flamingo. When I first went there as a punter I was scared. Once I started to play there, it was no problem.”

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames


Fame, who was born Clive Powell but was instructed to change his name as part of Larry Parnes’ stable (he was originally Billy Fury’s pianist), often employed black musicians, one of which was the strikingly named ‘Psycho’ Gordon – a Jamaican who come to the UK in the late 1940s.

Psycho Gordon often brought to The Flamingo Club his brother ‘Lucky Gordon’ a part-time jazz singer and drug dealer. Lucky had also been a boyfriend of the infamous Christine Keeler and it was at one of the hot and sweaty ‘all-nighter’ Flamingo sessions in October 1962 when Gordon bumped into another of Keeler’s black lovers – Johnny Edgecombe.

Gordon and Edgecombe started arguing and it soon developed into a vicious knife fight. The fracas ended with Edgecombe badly slicing the face of, this time a rather unlucky, ‘Lucky’ Gordon. No one knew, least of all the two protagonists, but the fight started a slow-burning fuse that eventually caused the explosion that became the most infamous political scandal of the twentieth century.

Aloysius 'Lucky' Gordon the sometime lover of Christine Keeler

Aloysius 'Lucky' Gordon the sometime lover of Christine Keeler

Gordon was treated for his wound at a local hospital but a few days later in a fit of jealousy, and rather unpleasantly, he posted the seventeen used stitches to Keeler and warned her that for each stitch he had sent she would also get two on her face in return.

Meanwhile a scared Edgecombe, along with Keeler, went into hiding from the police. Keeler even bought a Luger pistol in a bid to protect herself from the dangerous and still threatening Gordon.

On December 14th 1962 Keeler finished with Edgecombe, after finding him with another lover, saying that she would testify that it was he who had attacked Lucky Gordon at The Flamingo two months previously.

Keeler went to visit her friend Mandy Rice-Davies at Stephen Ward’s flat in Wimpole Mews with Johnny Edgecombe following her there in a taxi. When Keeler refused to speak to him he angrily shot seven bullets at the door of the flat. Frightened, the girls called Ward at his surgery and he in turn called the police who soon came and arrested Edgecombe.

Johnny Edgecombe

Lucky Gordon and Johnny Edgecombe

Before Edgecombe’s trial, Keeler was whisked off to Spain, one assumes because somebody, somewhere, thought various people would be badly compromised if she was allowed to talk in the witness box. Conspicuous by Keeler’s absence Edgecombe was found not guilty, both for assaulting Lucky Gordon and the attempted murder of Keeler. He was, however, found guilty of possession of an illegal firearm, for which he got seven years and served five.

Christine Keeler in Spain

Christine Keeler in Spain


On April 1st 1963 Christine was fined for her non-appearance at court and Lucky Gordon was bundled away by the Metropolitan police, shouting “I love that girl!” Not long after Keeler bumped into Gordon back at The Flamingo Club and again he had to be dragged away from her by other West Indian friends of hers.

The police struggling with Lucky Gordon 1st April 1963

The police struggling with Lucky Gordon 1st April 1963

In June 1963 Gordon was given a three year prison sentence for supposedly assaulting Keeler and in the same month Stephen Ward was arrested for living off Christine’s immoral earnings.

By now the whole story involving Profumo and the Russian attache/spy Ivananov was emerging, drip by drip. The chain of events that started with the fight of Keeler’s jealous ex-lovers at The Flamingo Club eventually caused the infamous resignation of the Secretary of State for War John Profumo, the suicide of high society’s favourite pimp, portrait painter and osteopath Stephen Ward, and ultimately, it could be said, the fall of the Conservative government.

Christine Keeler outside the Old Bailey 1st April 1963

Christine Keeler outside the Old Bailey 1st April 1963

Christine Keeler with friend 25th April 1963

Christine Keeler with friend 25th April 1963

Stephen Ward unconscious after his suicide attempt. He died a few days later.

Stephen Ward unconscious after his suicide attempt. He died a few days later.

In December 1963, after a drunken tape-recorded confession that she had lied about Gordon assaulting her, Keeler pleaded guilty of perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice at Lucky Gordon’s trial. Her barrister had pleaded to the judge before sentencing:

“Ward is dead, Profumo is disgraced. And now I know your lordship will resist the temptation to take what I might call society’s pound of flesh.”

It was to no avail and Christine Keeler was sentenced to nine months in jail which ended what her barrister termed, a little prematurely:

“the last chapter in this long saga that has been called the Keeler affair.”

Lucky Gordon after his release from prison

Lucky Gordon after his release from prison

Christine Keeler arriving at court, October 1963

Christine Keeler arriving at court, October 1963

29th October 1963

29th October 1963

Just before Christine Keeler’s trial Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames recorded a live album entitled Rhythm and Blues at “The Flamingo” and it was released in early 1964. The following year Fame had a number one hit with his version of ‘Yeh Yeh’.

After the publicised trouble at The Flamingo, American service men were banned from visiting the club. However, drawn by the weekend all-nighters and the music policy of black American R ‘n’ B and jazz, The Flamingo Club was already becoming the favourite hang-out for London’s newest teenager cult, the Mods. But that’s a different story…



"What if I sit astride the chair? It might just work."

"What if I sit astride the chair? It might just work."


Georgie Fame – Night Train (recorded at The Flamingo)

Derrick Morgan – Fat Man

Derrick and Patsy – Hey Boy Hey Girl

Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland – Turn On Your Lovelight

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying

Kim Weston – Looking For The Right Guy

John Lee Hooker – Tupelo

Brenda Holloway – I’ll Always Love You

Marvin Gaye – Pride and Joy

Buy some Georgie Fame stuff here


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112 Responses to “The Flamingo Club in Wardour Street and the fight between Johnny Edgecombe and ‘Lucky’ Gordon”

  1. Martin Hart says:

    Just caught up with this site. I played at the Flamingo with John Mayall & the BlueBreakers who were 2nd band to The Blue Flames. Met the Gunnells and all the guys. One night Phil Seaman was playing with Georgie, he was in the back stage room on the concrete floor unable to get up.. I went over to him asking if he was OK. “Are you the other drummer then”? he says. “Hi Phil, yes I am” I replied. He began to bang an empty coke bottle on the concrete floor, he looked up “you know , there’s sod all to it”.
    I helped him on to the drum stool , and the Blue fames began to play, He was terrific even when he was out of it. Bernie Watson was on guitar with John Mayall at the time. Always sat on a small stool or chair to perform. never looked at the audience, a wonderful guitarist. It was while we were regularly at the Flamingo that we recorded “Crawling up a Hill”. Our first single.

  2. Martin Hart says:

    I was the drummer at the Flamingo with John Mayall and the Blues Breakers in the sixties. I knew the Gunnells and all the guys. We would play the first set for the Blue Flames on a Friday or Saturday night. What a great band. I remember going into the the band room at the back of the stage one night. Phil Seamon was with Georgie at the time, he was lying on the concrete floor. I went over to him “Hi Phil, are you ok?” he was holding an empty Coke bottle in his hand, he looked up, “are you the other drummer then?” he asked. “Hi Phil, yes I am” I replied. he began to bang the coke bottle on the concrete floor. “yer know “he says “there’s sod all to it!” I helped him up and got him onto the drum stool behind his kit. The Blue Flames began to play. Phil played absolutely great—even when he was out of it. Bernie Watson was on guitar at that time with the Blues Breakers, he was a wonderful player, always sat on a small stool or chair , never looking at the audience. About this time we recorded the first single “Crawling up a Hill” Great days

  3. Derek Lyons says:

    John Gunnell was my friend in the mid 1980′s. We met in the Slug and Lettuce, Islington Green. He lived in Chris Farlowe’s flat which he took over above a Record store next to The Screen on the Green. We found out he was also my late fathers partner Peter Lyons ( Pete the Pill). Dad was involved in the Profumo Affair,the Krays,The Richardsons who wanted him to work with them all. My dad looked after Georgie Fame.

    I worked for John for one night at the Astoria at an event called Arena! I was the MC and stage manager.I really liked John, his favourite drink was Noilly Prat a French drink. I hope to meet up with John soon, miss his humour! Funny I worked in the music biz in the late 70′s, knew the Who. Met Georgie Fame. And the late Matt Monro who was a childhood friend of my dad! Small World!

  4. I am putting together a new communications research group that is concentrating upon the years 1959 to 1968, in cooperation with a small group of associates. We are trying to build a new library and research think tank with an open membership base, because at the moment a comprehensive undertaking of this type does not exist. The subject matter of this particular site centering upon the Flamingo and its performers, is of great interest. This is also a transatlantic story with links from London to Dallas, Miami, New York and the Bahamas. If this is of interest to you personally, we would love to hear from you. We were based in Fort Worth, Texas, but this new undertaking is being created in Falkirk, Scotland.

  5. Chris says:

    What sort of club was it in the 1950′s and what year was the first Mods get sighted at the club and what year did the Mods disappear also if the club wasn’t licensed then what did you do for a drink or was it all pill popping ?

  6. mervyn hagger says:

    Does anyone have any detailed information about Jimmy Houlihan in the period from 1960 to June 1964? I am working on a new book and tearing up the old rubbish about Ronan O’Rahilly and offshore radio. O’Rahilly was once described as a “decoy duck”, and I believe that Jimmy Houlihan was the minder of that decoy duck. Any trivia or leads will be welcomed. Thank you.

  7. David Wright says:

    I remember seeing a band called the blues giants at a small parish church hall in Moston Manchester after they had been a resident band at the Flamingo club. It would have been either 67 or 68. They did the gig as a favour to a friend of one of the band. People came from miles around to see them and they were fantastic, especially their rendering of Watermelon Man.
    I know I didn’t dream this! What happened to them?

  8. Ray Lindsay says:

    I seem to recall that The Flamingo got it’s name from a band called Kenny Graham’s Afro Cubists whos signiture tune was a song called Flamingo. The band, I believe was resident there to begin with. The opening was sometime in the 50′s.
    Later, various jazz musicians were featured there during the time when a gentleman named Geoff Kruger managed the club.
    In the sixties,I believe, the policy to present jazz was abandoned in favour of Rock and Roll

  9. Mick says:

    Remember when I was a milkman delivering to Georgie when he lived in a small street (Stewarts Grove ?) next to Brompton hospital of the Fulham road.

  10. Chris Gregory says:

    I used to go to the all nighter sessions at the Flamingo between 1963 and 1966. Great bands, Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, Long John Baldry, John Mayall with Eric Clapton among others. We used to get the train from Sidcup, Kent and the early train back on Sunday morning in time to play Football. During the break at about 3am we used to walk down to the Embankment where there was an all night burger stall to get a burger. Great days and great memories. Also used to go to the Black Prince, Bexley, Bromley Court Hotel, Bromley and the Manor House.

  11. Graham Cresswell says:

    I used to frequent the `mingo on Saturdays, up from Abbeywood to the X and walk thru see what was about. Get a few “doobs” for the night ahead haha. If Mayall or Georgie was on, GET THERE EARLY, saw many artists there some good some not so good, once around five of us saw Rik having a go at Brian Jones `cause he wanted to bring booze in and Rik told him NO. Today`s standards would have shut the place it was far to small for the amount of people down there PHEW!


    I was a ladies hairdresser in Bristol,after work on Saturday around 130 pm myself and Nick Brown traveled to London down the A4,no M4 back in 63/64 in Fred Abernathy’s mini arriving in time for The Flamingo’s evening session.When that finished around 11pm we had a quick Chinese and then back in to The Flamingo for the Allnighter till 6am.What a fantastic atmosphere you where so close to the bands,Georgie Fame,John Mayall,Zoot Money Chris Farlowe,Graham Bond Alexis Korner.At 6am we would go to a burger bar in Hyde Park for breakfast and then back to Bristol in time for a pub Sunday lunch,HAPPY DAYS indeed,what prompted this is I’m listening to Georgie Fame Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo nearly 60 years later here in the Philippines now almost 76,Nick and Fred are still around too.

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