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. The good ol’ days…? the Flamingo Club certainly. Go Geogie Fame & Blue Flames…Hammond / Sax…et al

  2. James Walsh says:

    These are amazing photos. I remember this era very well and thought I had seen all the photos that were to be seen on the whole affair. Makes you wonder what other photos are out there.

  3. davyh says:

    We bumped into Georgie Fame in our Sainsbury’s Local last – oh bugger, I’ve already done that one.

  4. Julian Palacios says:

    Top marks, a terrific read. And the article pointed me to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’s version of ‘Yeh Yeh’, which I’d never heard.

  5. A fascinating story well told. And what great pictures! Seems to me that whoever gave the Gordon brothers their nicknames got things the wrong way around.

  6. Bill Luther says:

    Brilliant stuff! I’d long been under the (wrong!) impression that the stabbing was between some G.I’s. After that (or so I’ve read) the Flamingo Club was off limits to G.I’s, though that would not be true as they can clearly be heard (as pointed out by G.F. in an interview) in between numbers on the live Georgie Fame LP recorded there after the stabbing!

  7. Fantabulous story . More please .
    more Georgie Fame, Falmingo club and mod years stories on

  8. Excellent ‘post’. Photo’s, Text and music. reads very well. I recently adopted the Bobby Bland tune to kick off a 3 week Mod/ernist theme of music, (which you may enjoy), and dialogue from the early sixties on my musical diary, themusicologist that finished yesterday. Now that I have discovered your page I look forward to reading more.

  9. belinda ackermann says:

    another brilliant read THANKS

  10. You no doubt know this already but the band pictured outside the Flamingo is Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band wih Zoot on the far right, standing next to his young guitarist Andy Summmers, later of the Police.

  11. J.D. King says:

    Great story! Good to know all the deets.

    I was pre-teen Yank when the Profumo scandal was in the headlines. Racy stuff!

  12. Rob Grondelle says:

    Great story and very nice pictures! Although I do not see the correlation between the two avents besids both party’s knew Christine, it is a very good story.

  13. nickelinthemachine says:

    The connection is that after a series of events following the fight at the Flamingo Club, Edgecombe came to Stephen Ward’s flat and started shooting a gun. The police came involved and the rest is history. The brother of one of the people involved in said fight played in Georgie Fame’s band at the Flamingo. So it all is connected.

  14. Rob by Grondelle says:

    I did not speak about the connection in the story, I mean that very clear and makes it a very good story. I’m talking abgout the two events, the shooting and the downfall of Profumo and later the PM. The event that led to Profumo’s downfall was that during his 3 weeks relationship with Christine, she as also seeing a Russian member/worker of the Ambassade, not that shooting in Wards’s house. Ward was the person who introduced her to Profumo, but Profumo is not linked to that shooting.
    So I think that this is very good story and it’s telling us about that they were connected trough Keeler, but to say that this fight and shooting led to Profumo’s downfall is a bit far fetched.

  15. dino says:

    Lucky Gordon went on to become Bob Marleys cook in the 1970s. Round about the time Bob was recordinh the KAYA album. 77-78.

  16. Sandy says:

    Just curious – what’s the significance of that list of songs at the end?

    Really interesting article, btw.

  17. Bernie 60's Mod says:

    Brilliant pictures of the Flamingo. Yes, very interesting.

    The most exciting club of all. Atmosphere electric albeit often with a little fear.

    A great era!!

  18. Celia 60's early teenager says:

    At15 years old introduced to Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames by older chef boyfriend – Roger Knowles of Sheffield. Later when in Nowich, U.K. saw Georgie & The Blue Flames perform there at St. Andrews Hall when the Flames were predominantly Black. They were great but not so great off stage as young entertainers that are ‘cool’ were tring too hard to be!!
    Coincidentally, years later in early 70′s in Johannesburg, South Africa, I and my parents were invited by Rory Blackwell to a party. Fame’s fans and indeed he, will remember Rory well from the early days of his career. Georgie is still great in his genre’, one of the best! Wonder does he still perform and anyone know of my old flame – Roger Knowles?????

  19. Maciu says:

    I also remember an ex-GI called Gino Washington who used to perform there at the Flamingo. Quite friendly and talkative kind of guy, just as popular as Georgie Fame. He had a backing group called the Ram Jam Band.

  20. john holland says:

    What a great read. I was there throughout the sixties mod era and I read this with great memories I wanted to be there when Georgie recorded his live LP but could never go in the week
    Great Times

  21. My friend, David, and I used to go to the Flamingo. That was where the Jazz Couriers played, co-led by Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott, before Ronnie opened his own place. We also saw Tony Kinsey(drums), Bill LeSage(vibes) and Joe Harriot(baritone sax).
    We also went to the 2 I’s coffee bar.

  22. Anthony says:

    I use to go to the “WAG” club in the 80s which was the Flamingo in the 60s. I did not none the Flamingo club, had so much history. Great read.

  23. Peter John says:

    Two things – Geno Washington and the Ram Jams were of course resident at the Ram Jam in Brixton, and isn’t that Rod Stewart standing on the far right in the picture of the great trouser-dropper Zoot Money at the Flamingo entrance?

  24. Peter John says:

    Sorry that should of course have read ‘on the left’……Doh!

  25. Mouldylocks says:

    When can we read the ‘different story’, when the ‘faces’ took over the ‘mingo’??
    I was a regular there for a couple of years ’64-’66ish. Standard weekend practice was to attend the allnighter on Friday, go for a wash and brush up at Waterloo Station, then off ‘shopping’ at Biba’s (the salesgirls were all aspiring models, and couldn’t care less whether you paid or not.)
    Hang out all day in a large group of likeminded youngsters, then get washed and dressed (in plunder) at the station for the Saturday allnighter.
    I seem to remember that at some stage the Flamingo started throwing out at 3 or 4 in the morning, when we moved on to ‘Tiles’ or another halfnighter that started late and stayed open until 5 or 6 Sunday morning.
    On then to the tea stall at Waterloo, then down Petticoat Lane. On to one of the Royal Parks to smoke some ‘hash’, then perhaps cinema to laugh inappropriately.
    Off home in the evening, to sleep until Tuesday.
    Drugs (first Drinamyl, later Dexedrine) usually taken pharmacutically – just enough to stay awake – as ‘blocked’ = boring.
    Peter Green asked me to go out with him in the Flamingo, and I refused because he was always there alone and was rather shy, so I thought him odd.
    The thing is, they were surprisingly innocent days. I don’t remember the Flamingo selling alcohol, nor was there much sexual activity. We were just a mixed gender, mixed race, group of mates.

  26. steve hester says:

    The opening tack on my now scratchy copy of GF & the BFs – Night Train – still captures the excitement, anticipation and sense of belonging in the atmosphere of the Flamingo allnight sessons. Great photo of the band, especilly the guy at the back with the congas, who was our favourite. Like many of the mod groups (in 1963), we’d travel up west from the Essex burbs, and as in one of your comments, end up in Petticoat Lane on sunday mornng, though in our case via Mick’s all night cafe in Fleet Street. The only rival, at least as far as we were concerned, to the Flamingo was ‘La Discotheque’, a few doors south, where I met the love of my life, Vivienne Wellott (not seen for thirty years!). Great cultural history.

  27. Bill Hart says:

    I am producing a new feature on Geogie Fame for the Lanky Beat web site. I would like your permission to use three pics.

    1 GF and the Blue Flames
    2 Album cover at The Flamingo
    3 The front door shot

    I would like to link with you site.

    Yours musically

    Bill Hart

  28. mark badger says:

    johnny edge passed away on september 26th -2010

    and is to be cremated tommorrow on the occasion of his 78th birthday

    he has a facebook page entitled ” johnny edgecombe tribute “

  29. Alan Kemp.. says:

    Lucky Gordon had a son called Christopher, who i wnt to school with….Where is he, I want to make contact !!!

  30. SJC says:

    Nice to see the picture with a very young Rod Stewart outside the Flamingo entrance… what did happen to that guy?

  31. Bill Hart says:

    Hi Robert Baker

    I wonder if you can help out once again?

    I am planning a Special Feature for Lanky Beat about the ‘birthplace of rock ‘n roll’. in it I would like to include pics of the 2 is coffee bar, The Maquee club and The 100 club.

    I would appreciate toy kind assistance.

    Beat wishes

    Bill Hart

  32. Stephen says:

    It’s not Rod Stewart – it’s Stevie Marriott – on the left, talking……

  33. steve prime says:

    What a great article and stirs so many “great” memories: friday ams saturday night all nighters: then onto the scene in Ham yard(home of the great Guy stephens) but could be a bit dodgy unless you knew the right people.The only way to get through the nights was with a little help fom Dexys/bombers(lucky we all lived close to MSD factory !!): I am right in thinking that the great Fame man also did a Sunday session- surely remember going in there afternoons. What about other great bands there- Herbie Goins, Graham Bond and Zoot’s big roll band(have a friend who plays drums occaisonally for him now). Great times

  34. m00k says:

    Picture a Tuesday morning at 5am – staff gone, all quiet/still. Much activity at 35/37 Wardour. I can vouch for that having worked there for a decade.
    After 100+ years of entertainment @ one address, what else can you expect…
    Cool blog/pix btw – keep on digging

  35. Porky says:

    Hi I went to the Flamigo Club,most week ends. With to girls from Fleet in Hampshire. Sue Pratt. And Sue O drisscoll we had some brill all nighters there. Recently found Sue Pratt on line. And now corespond on line. Brill girl very trendy mod in the sixties. Nice person to be with in the clubs. Loved her lots. Hope all that new me are still enjoying life Porky

  36. John J says:

    Hi all
    Just stumbled on the site…WOW..I was a regular at the “Mingo” I was a Mod member… was a seventeen year olds dream…great music…women …drugs
    open till six ….great weekends….Margate and Brighton were good too…
    saw Georgie at the Jazz cafe a while “still got it!”….John J.

  37. Harry Rogers says:

    Johnny Edgecombes Facebook page is as follows:- just cut and paste into browser to get to it, it is called Johnny Edgecombe Memorial Group

  38. mjt says:

    I remember seeing the Byrds play the flamingo around 1965 ?
    Geno Washington was on also and the night ended with a huge fight which was not unusual,but it was for all that so much better than today

  39. bjorn_late says:

    Great story! I came to this link via

    This Skatalites tune is way cool, a killer version of the Mel Torme song Comin’ Home Baby.

  40. brian davies says:


  41. Peter Y says:

    Brian those were the days eh!! and I miss them. I was a weekly regular at the Flamingo Club, and was there when Georgie Fame recorded the album “Rhythm & Blues at the Flamingo” live in the club. Yes I was a moddy with my TV175. I always went to the “all nighter”, and on bank holidays we all went on our scooters straight from the club in the morning to Brighton or Margate. Do you remember across the road 2 I’s cafe?. I had my collection of Georgie Fame albums nicked some time back including “Sound Venture with the Harry South Orchestra” where could I find some to replace them??

  42. SJC says:

    2 I’s “across the road” from The Flamingo? Your memory playing tricks? The 2I’s (in Old Compton Street) was across a few roads, and down a couple of blocks (including Shaftesbury Avenue)! I put it down to the pills!

  43. Wayne Hennebury says:

    Spent a lot of great times in the 60s on a Friday and Saturday night at the mingo’s all nighters. After leaving Toffs nightclub in Folkestone we would all go to the Acropolis coffee bar and all pack in to three or four cars full of us then drive about one hour plus up to Wardour street, get there about 1:30AM and not leave till 6:00 am got to listen and see some great music and artistes, then we would walk down to the Strand Caff and get breakfast. drive home then do it again Saturday night almost no sleep the whole weekend then it was school for me on Monday as back then everyone i hung out with was quite a lot older than me. GREAT TIMES and some of my best memories, ROLL BACK THE CLOCK

  44. zara -australia says:

    Spent time 64 to 67 there. Best music & dancing of my life.
    Does anyone know what happened to Trevor Kerr (nickname Mr Blueberry Hill, from Jamaica ?)

  45. Colin Smith says:

    Back in ’64 I was a callow north country bumpkin with an affinity to the village pigeon club dance when one weekend a friend of mine from Sidcup persuaded me to hitchhike down to London for the weekend. He took me to the Flamingo and we saw Ronnie Jones and the Nighttimers and John Mayall (Zoot Money was in the audience). It was a totally different dimension. Obviously I knew nothing about the trade in uppers etc. but do remember the MC exhorting the audience to buy soft drinks at inflated prices – in fact at the end of one of Georgie Fame’s live at the Flamingo tracks there’s a reference to this. It was an amazing experience at that stage in my life and I was disappointed that it closed.

  46. Jan Ivánek says:

    Please hand over my congratulation lady Christine: Christine Keeler was and continue to be beautiful. She is a famous model from England. In of his day become symbol sexual revolution. Of the day 22. February 2012 She celebrated 70 anniversary. I wish lady Christine much health and fair weather to the of other years. Have the honour her admirer and big fan. Jan Ivánek, 252 09 Hradištko 168, district Prague – west, Czech Republic

  47. Bob_the_guitar says:

    Used to go to the Flamingo with co.musicians to dig the modern jazz in 1959. Tubby and Ronnie with Phil Seamen in the Jazz Couriers were the standing attraction, but heard many others from Bill le Sage of the Tony Kinsey Quartet to Shake Keane playing in a cha-cha-cha ensemble. One night many members of Ellington’s band came down after their show somewhere in town and a few sat in.
    There was a cha-cha-cha craze at the time and on some evenings the place was filled with almost identical looking young men with college cuts dancing some kind of cha.cha.cha line dance with an equal number of girls opposite!

  48. Mark says:

    During this Period I worked for Regent Shoes serving the girls from the windmill theatre and local maidens of the night
    And Did the
    Saturday all-night at the Flamingo Great times in the area

  49. Mark says:

    During this Period I worked for Regent Shoes serving the girls from the windmill theatre and local maidens of the night
    And Did the
    Saturday all-night at the Flamingo Great times in the area

  50. Alan Pearce says:

    I too was a regular at the Flamingo,Georgie fame, And yes James Brown, night train, papa got a brand new bag, ginormous Washington Etc, my pal at the time was Alan Papworth? What ever happened to him?

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