2 flyers (1976, 1977) and a membership card (1967-68) are on display in the At The Gig case in the Life Gallery
The Bamboo Club was a licenced venue in St. Paul's, Bristol, which was located at 7 St. Paul Street from 1966 to 1977. It was the first of its kind to serve the city's West Indian community, although it has been said to have brought everyone together regardless of class or race (the Sex Pistols played their only Bristol gig there). The club playing host to Reggae and Soul music superstars as well as sound systems throughout the sixties and seventies. The club burned down in 1977.
The owners were Tony and Lalel Bullimore, who saw and experienced (lalel being herself Jamaican) the poor treatment of West Indians in Bristols pubs and clubs. This motivated them to open a new entertainment centre catering specifically for the black community. Tony identified a potential venue at 7 St. Paul Street, off Portland Square, and on 28 October 1966, after two years spent securing the appropriate licenses from a skeptical and resistant city council, he and Lalel launched the Bamboo Club. The venue quickly became one of the most important West Indian venues in the UK, hosting DJ /sound system nights and a variety of live reggae and soul acts including Desmond Dekker, Laurel Aitken, John Holt, Derrick Morgan, The Skatalites, Jimmy Cliff, The Mighty Diamonds, Joe Tex, Lee Dorsey, Ben E. King, Percy Sledge, The Ronettes and many more. Bob Marley and The Wailers played at the Bamboo Club twice, initially on 26 May 1973 as part of their first UK tour, Catch A Fire.
The Bamboo Club served as DJ Derek's introduction To reggae music after witnessing many of these acts Perform there.
Early sound systems to play at the club include Tarzan The High Priest, Trojan, and Sebastian (aka Sir Bastian), while out of town sounds such as Jah Shaka, Sir Coxsone and Quaker City were frequent guests. The first DJ to play at the club was Tony Williams, and Hank (Hank Durrant aka Baby D) became the resident selector, from the late sixties onwards.
On the morning of Sunday 18th December 1977 the Bamboo, and everything inside, including 15,000 records collected by Bullimore over the years, was tragically destroyed by a fire. The clubs minute book, which is kept at Bristol Records Office, offers an insight into the upcoming 1977 Christmas period, demonstrating the importance of sound systems at the club at that time.
Friday 23 December - Disco with Sir Jay
Saturday 24 December - State Express (band) and sound system
Sunday 25 December - Quaker City and Studio 17
Monday 26 December - Barley Wine with discos from Observer and Commander
Tuesday 27 December - Studio 17 and Sir Jay discos
Wednesday 28 December - Punk Group (Sex Pistols)
Thursday 29 December - Jah Militant and Enterprise discos
Friday 30 December - Sir Coxon [sic] and Jah Shocker [sic] discos
Saturday 31 December - Small Axe and Leisure HiFi
The club is fondly remembered by those who were there. According to Tony Francis, who operates the Bristol-based sound system Loveline: "there will never be another club like the Bamboo".