Five things you didn’t know about Rock City

3 min read
To live music fans from Nottingham and beyond, Rock City is always worth a visit. Hosting top international acts and local bands and artists looking for their big break, it has been going strong since 1980.

As it’s a mainstay of Nottingham’s vibrant live music scene, there’s a lot of history behind this venue, but is there more to Rock City than just being a place to rock out? We have five interesting facts that may surprise you about its long, rich history.

It hosted a world championship

Before being renovated and christened with its current name, Rock City was known as Heart Of The Midlands, a down-to-earth club. In 1978, it played host to the first ever World Darts Championship, which was televised by the BBC and played in front of a packed house.

While the event itself was a success, it didn’t stay there for next year, moving further west to Jollees Cabaret Club in Stoke-on-Trent. The winner, Welshman Leighton Rees, picked up £3,000 for winning the title, which is worth around £12,000 in today’s money.

First ever gig gets cancelled

In 1980, the first band booked to play the venue were heavy metal icons Iron Maiden. They were just making their way as a band at the time, so having them play seemed easy enough to arrange. However, due to the venue not being ready on time, the gig had to be cancelled.

After sorting that out, a replacement act were found. The Undertones, punk legends at the time, played all their hits and helped to get Rock City off the ground!

Black Cherry Lounge wasn’t always there

A big part of Rock City is Black Cherry Lounge, a more relaxed space within the venue that hosts some club nights as well. Opened in 2011, it’s the most recent addition to the Rock City complex, but what stood there before?

The Rig was an additional room that played host to smaller gigs and was, in many ways, a condensed version of the Rock City gig experience. It was small, intimate and had an amazing atmosphere.

It’s not the biggest music venue in Nottingham

Although the Rock City basement can hold around 1,700 people, it’s not the biggest music venue in Nottingham. That title goes to the nearby Motorpoint Arena Nottingham, which hosts some of the biggest acts in the world.

Its capacity stands at around 10,000, but if you’re after a night of moshing away, this isn’t the place to be. It does have its charms, however.

It’s the only venue in the city to host David Bowie

The late, great David Bowie surprised everyone in Nottingham when he announced that he was to play Rock City as part of an eight-date tour of the UK back in 1997. Tickets cost £15 and sold out within a few hours of the date being announced.

Aside from playing tracks from his one-and-only Drum and Bass album, Earthling, Bowie sprinkled his set list with a few classics. It was his one and only gig in Nottingham, a privilege that Rock City’s owners wear with pride.

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