|© Richard Young Gallery|
Monday, December 05, 2016
Marvin Gaye in Deptford at Cheeks nightclub
This picture has been doing the rounds on facebook, pinterest etc. and has caused some excitement as it purports to show soul legend Marvin Gaye dancing in Deptford - the caption actually says 'Marvin Gaye - Cheeks Club - Deptford -1980' with the photographer given as Richard Young.
This seems too good to be true - is it for real? The photographer Richard Young is well known for celebrity/society nightclubbing shots, and definitely photographed Marvin Gaye in London (his website includes a 1981 shot of Gaye at Stringfellows). The origin of the image circulating online with the Deptford caption seems to be a Sunday Times article on Young from October 2014 - the online edition doesn't include the Marvin Gaye photo, but I gather it was included as extra content on the tablet edition. So there doesn't seem to be any reason to doubt the caption, which would have been based on the photograph's metadata as supplied to the paper. The context of the article was that Young had just published a collection of his photographs in a book, Nightclubbing, which is available from the Richard Young Gallery. Not sure if the book includes the Deptford photo, but I am hoping that the fact that I am advertising it and only using the image for non-commercial local history interest will reassure the gallery - but of course will take it down if requested.
It is well documented that Marvin Gaye did live in London for a while in 1980/81, in a bit of a bad way with cocaine addiction, before moving to Belgium. So that makes the Deptford visit plausible.
And what of Cheeks? This was a nightclub at 18 Deptford Broadway that opened in 1980 (the following advert for bar staff at 'South London's newest club' is from The Stage, 21 August 1980). I believe that the recently departed Harry Haward, sometime gangster associate and later pensioners rights campaigner, was involved in running the club.
Another article in The Stage apologised for suggesting that the club was 'failing as a disco to attract sufficient custom' and stated that it was 'licensed for 550 people'. As mentioned here before, posters for the opening night of Cheeks can be seen briefly in the 1980 film 'Babylon'
Later the club was renamed Champs - this advert is from the Illustrated London News 1 June 1988 and is for 'Planet Rok Brutal Rave' there on Thursday night promising 'flare grooves':
Later still it changed names to Futures, where Dave Courtney was once involved in a Monday night acid house night called 'Crazy Mondays'.
So yes, Cheeks nightclub was going in Deptford in 1980/81, and Marvin Gaye was living in London in that period. Then there's also the supporting evidence that he had been spotted in Deptford another time- Tom Fawcett, editor of Artrocker, tweeted in 2014: 'I met Marvin Gaye once, in a pub in Deptford High St. He was there to see a band I was playing trombone for. Very odd'.
So lets's say its true, would be good though to have some eye wtiness confirmation. Mind you, somebody else claimed on facebook that Diana Ross also once visited Cheeks and (less surprizingly) Adam Ant. Tell us more!
Update 8 December 2016:
Interesting detail in comment posted by Mark Cathcart. He notes that Greg Edwards is mentioned in one of the Cheeks articles - presumably the DJ of Capital Radio Soul Spectrum fame. According to Mark 'Greg's day job was the distributor of Philadelphia Records in the UK(I think) he almost certainly would have had contact with Marvin'.
Actually, Greg also worked for CBS who Marvin Gaye was signed to at this time. So there's a possible explanation for Marvin being in Deptford - maybe Greg, who he would probably have met through the record company wsa DJing and in any event seems to have had some link to Cheeks.