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Started in by Rik Gunnell. Lack of suitable watering holes prompted Rik to open the Londoner, Great English Pub, in december Since then, the Londoner has gone from strength to strength. It is legend to many famous drinkers, the winners and the losers of the ski and the tennis circuit rendez-vous here to serve its amazing how many sport stars are wannabe barmen and to be served vast quantaties of the delicious golden liquid, we call beer.
As the cliche goes, behind every strong man stands a stronger woman, the backbone of the Londoner - Edith. Almost four years after that Nina was joined with a little sister Romy.
Rik Gunnell, who has died aged 75, was an entrepreneur and music promoter, never happier than when selling his wares. Even in , when Georgie Fame, his artist, was topping the charts for the second time, Gunnell could still be found outside the Flamingo, in London's Wardour Street, playing the tout, with a treble whisky-and-coke in his hand.
In the club's basement, black and white people mingled to an extent unknown elsewhere in London in the s. The original showman, Gunnell conducted business in a rough-and-ready manner. Generous and foolhardy, he lost a chance to manage the Rolling Stones, turned his back on the Kinks - and oversaw one of the most vital periods in London's musical and social history. He was born in Hausbruch, Germany, where Harry, his English father, worked for a shipping company.
His mother, Elle, was German, and although not Jewish, by Harry anticipated the possibility of internment as a foreigner and brought his family to London. At 15, Rik took up boxing his father wrote for British Boxing News , and fought as an amateur, winning 15 out of 20 fights. He liked to claim that Max Schmeling was his godfather. During national service, in the Royal Army Pay Corps at Devizes, he became a drill instructor, but discipline was an alien concept and an excessive night's drinking ended his boxing career.