THE MAPLETON HOTEL (now the Thistle Piccadilly), In the heart of London’s West End, was the original home of the legendary Flamingo Club (OSVLP014). However, it is a little known fact that there was a second club, cloistered in the basement of the Mapleton, the ‘Americana’. The club was run by the Gunnell brothers, Rik and Johnny, who would go on to manage the Flamingo when it moved to Wardour Street and the Bag O’Nails, in Soho, where Jimi Hendrix first played in 1966 and where Paul McCartney met his future wife Linda Eastman.
The Americana was named to cash-in on the obsession at the time for all things American – food, drink, fashion, film, music – and attracted a large contingent of G.I.’s, still stationed in the home counties after the war. The club opened in 1955 and hosted All-Night sessions for two years. A ‘ten bob’ note gave you passage to a secret, subterranean world filled with exotic sounds and cultures and a 3 course meal of tomato soup, chicken & chips and ice cream. You got to dance all-night long to live acts playing a fusion of R&B, blues, jazz, calypso and ska which, in the mid-fifties, was the hottest sound in the world and heralded the Mod generation.