KOKO began life as The Camden Theatre and was opened on Boxing Day 1900 by the famous actress Ellen Terry. In 1909 the theatre was renamed The Camden Hippodrome and was a variety theatre where Charlie Chaplin regularly performed.
The venue became a proper cinema in 1913 and in 1928 ‘Novelty Nights’ were introduced on Fridays with up to seven live acts appearing before a film. In 1933 the cinema was wired for sound, and free Christmas performances were given to the local children.
The cinema closed in 1940, and for some 20 years from 1945, the building became a BBC Theatre. Here they recorded shows such as the famous Goon Show, and ‘Rhythm and Blues’, which featured a performance from the Rolling Stones.
In 1970 the venue was reincarnated as The Music Machine, it found a place at the heart of Punk and played host to some of the decade’s most legendary shows. Both the Sex Pistols and Iron Maiden performed live, and it was home to The Clash for a momentous 4 day residency in the summer of ’78.
In 1982 the Camden Palace was born and The New Romantic scene had found its home. The venue quickly became a hangout for the coolest kids in London, and the world over (Grace Jones used to fly out to party here). The Eighties saw performances from the Eurythmics, the Cure and the first UK show from a rising star known as Madonna. Not forgetting, of course, those Nutty boys of Camden Town – Madness.
The Camden Palace continued to move with the times and in the Nineties was home to a series of dance nights. It closed in February 2004 in much need of some love, care and a refurbishment
A six month, multi-million pound restoration project was undertaken to the singular brief of creating a 21st Century entertainment venue from what was left of the glorious 19th Century building.
Since opening in 2005, some true musical legends have graced KOKO’s stage: Noel Gallagher dropped in for a surprise show with Kasabian and Coldplay held their celeb-filled ‘X & Y’ album launch. Madonna has returned to KOKO since her historic show. The Elton John AIDS Foundation held their star-studded ‘Move for AIDS’ fundraiser here in 2007. Rock N Roll Cinema launched in 2010 with the premiere of the highly-anticipated rock documentary film ‘Oil City Confidential’ and a performance from Wilko Johnson.
2010 saw the birth of KOKO TV with the recording of Channel Four primetime music show KOKO Pop.
Fast forward to today and we have also seen some of the biggest dance acts from the Chemical brothers, Solomun, Marco Carola, Luciano, Armin Van Helden, Black Coffee to name a few.
And we still host the best new talent there is.