Together with another member of our media team Flora Windebank I attended the premiere of ‘Ronnie’s’ last week. Produced by Goldfinch ‘Ronnie’s,’ is a documentary telling the story of the world famous music venue Ronnie Scotts. It features archive footage and interviews, chronicling 60 years of the iconic Soho jazz club, from its beginnings through to the present day.
We enjoyed vintage footage of some of the greatest musicians to have graced any club in the past 70 or so years and the journey of the club from its original site in Gerrard Street to its current location in Frith Street. The human side of the story told the trials and tribulations of the club’s owners, Ronnie Scott and Pete King.
Ronnie Scott was the front man and public persona of the club whilst Pete King looked after the business side. The financial dynamics of running a club in Soho were far from smooth. In one interview Ronnie Scott tells the story of how a local gangster gave him a magnum of champagne and told him to open it when he had no more debt. He then proceeds to hold up the bottle covered in dust and says ‘It’s still here`
Ronnie Scott comes over as a lovely man, obsessed with music. One observer claims Ronnie 'flew close to the sun.`
The film is written and directed by Oliver Murray. It’s packed with fabulous music segments from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Cleo Laine, Sonny Rollins, Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis to name but a few. There are simply majestic interludes from Buddy Rich and Van Morrison performing with a frail Chet Baker. It also shows Jimi Hendrix at the club on the night of his untimely death.
Murray has done a tremendous job. He includes interviews with many family members, musicians and an over-arching narrative telling the story of Scott and King. The backdrop is the changing face of London and in particular its heart, Soho.
On a personal level I am privileged to have visited Ronnie Scotts many times. But watching the film a feeling of nostalgia made me wish I had spent even more time there.
In these difficult times it was a thrill to get back to London and watch a film in a public place, controlled in a safe, socially distanced environment at the marvellous Everyman Cinema.
If you enjoy good music, if you love London, if you want to see a great film-go hunt out Ronnie’s. I loved it.