Were you there?  Do you remember the bands and the battles, the smells and sticky carpets, the music and the monkey men?  In short, did you experience the magic mixture that was Glasgow Apollo theatre?  If so Kenny Forbes would like to hear from you.

painting of glasgow apollo

Glasgow Apollo by local artist Jim MacNee 2009 as shown on You Had to Be There website


Legendary is an overworked word and Kenny would rather not use it.  But it is hard to avoid when you are talking about the Apollo (or at least that’s what we found when we were making Glasgow Music Tour).  How else do you describe a music venue that can still stir passions in so many people even though it disappeared under rubble 27 years ago.   Lurking beneath what is now CineWorld may be ghosts of great gigs gone by, the echoing sounds of the Stones, Who, Deep Purple, Diana Ross, Bob Marley…and neither bands nor audience have forgotten what made it unique. Or so it seems.

Now almost 40 years to the day since the Apollo opened, Kenny, a mature student at Glasgow University, is investigating just why the old cinema inspires such a following.  As part of his research, he is organising Focus Group discussions during October for audience and former members of staff to share their memories.

“I’m especially interested to hear from those who attended jazz, pop, soul and folk concerts at the Apollo” he says, “and also from those who worked at the venue in any capacity.”

That gives plenty of scope. Formerly Greens Playhouse, the Apollo opened in 1973 with Johnny Cash and finally closed in 1985 with Paul Weller. In between the venue capable of holding up to 4,000 created what amounts to the A-Z of 70s and 80s rock: from AC/DC to Frank Zappa.  But there was room for soul, folk, reggae, pop and jazz (and the odd political rally) – Duke Ellington made one of his last appearances there.

Cineworld, site of the old Apollo

Beneath Cineworld, ghosts of the old Apollo?

Kenny, who is also a music lecturer at West of Scotland University, has been gathering an archive of stories for the last two years. “Since I started the study in 2010 I’ve been overwhelmed by the response of the Apollo audience and staff towards the research; they’ve all been extremely keen to contribute what amounts to facets of their real life experiences at the venue, and hopefully this will continue when the next phase of the research starts.”

You can watch the story unfold on  his excellent You Were There website. And if you want to take part, contact Kenny Forbes at the School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow Email: k.forbes.1@research.gla.ac.uk call him on 07515-658-367, or click here to fill in the survey online.

We’re hoping we can contribute a few stories too so we’re off to dig up some of the memories we collected when we were producing Glasgow Music Tour. One of the key destinations of Route 4 just happens to be the old Apollo. Even though it is no longer there.