Located at 43 King Street, Covent Garden, Middle Earth became London's major "underground" club after the UFO Club closed in summer 1967. The venue had previously been known as the Electric Garden.

Although Jeff Dexter was the main DJ at Middle Earth, Peel played regular gigs there following the closure of Radio London. Notable events in which he was involved include the debut of Tyrannosaurus Rex as a two-piece and Captain Beefheart's first-ever appearance in the UK.

Middle Earth itself eventually faced problems with the police and closed after being raided in the small hours of March 3, 1968.[1] In a "Perfumed Garden" column for International Times, Peel wrote:

"Sympathies and my love to all those humiliated during and following the recent raid on Middle Earth. One girl told me that she was searched four times by an assortment of robust lady policemen. They found nothing, but didn't seem to mind. In view of all this may I urge your renewed support for Release. You may be next. Of course, if you go out and get drunk, puke and urinate in the tube and harass other and sober citizens, well, that's just comic old British behaviour, go to it freely." [1]

Middle Earth subsequently left its Covent Garden home and instead organized live events at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm for a time. Gigs in which Peel participated included the UK debut of the Doors on a double bill with Jefferson Airplane. The venue never quite acquired the legendary status of UFO, however - to the regret of many observers, including Peel. In October 1968 he wrote in his International Times column:

"The feeling at Middle Earth is one of bewilderment, confusion - there is no sense of unity - why is this? The environment is more sympathetic now, the music is good, the people are you and so good and yet there is no spark - it's very strange." [2]

Peel at Middle Earth



23 Debut of two-piece Tyrannosaurus Rex on bill headed by Denny Laine's Electric String Band, The Picadilly Line [3]

30 "Turn on to The Fairport Convention and Dreamland Express, plus Herbal Mixture and John Peel [4]


1 The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Exploding Galaxy, Mabels Greer's Toyshop, The Kult [5] [6]

21 Ginger Johnson's African Drum Band, Ultradelic Alchemists [7]

27 The Nice, Eyes of Blues, Limousine, West Indian Steel Band [8]


10 Soft Machine, Zeus, Sensory Armada [9]

17 Fairport Convention, Crystal Ship, Jacob's Ladder Construction Co. [10]

24 The Pretty Things, Eyes Of Blue, Tyrannosaurus Rex [11] (alternative listing has Geranium Pond as third on the bill [12])


1 Electric Prunes, Eclection, Spell, Sensory Armada [13]

15 Pink Floyd, Fusion Fluff [14]



20 Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band [15] [16] [17] [2]


13 Tyrannosaurus Rex, Junior's Eyes, Beowolf [18]

19 "Gandalf's Garden Benefit": Bill included Tyrannosaurus Rex, David Bowie [19] - Peel was advertised but cancelled to attend due to involvement in the Beefheart tour at the time.[3]

26 "Oz Magazine Benefit" Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, Social Deviants, Blonde On Blonde, Alexis Korner, Miss Kelly, The Flamingoes, Buddy Lloyd [4]


3 King Ida's Watch Chain, The Battered Ornaments [20]


6-7 Roundhouse: Doors and Jefferson Airplane (JP not listed in ad but said to have compered this legendary event [5]) [21]


23 Middle Earth presents at the Roundhouse: Juniors Eyes, Writing On The Wall, Arcadium, The Gun, Auriel, Sleepy [22]


27 Special Christmas show with John Peel [23]

28 Special Christmas show with John Peel [24]



6 43 King Street, Covent Garden (The Old Middle Earth), "Oz Police Ball - A Gala Benefit For The Oz Obscenity Trial": "A star-studded all nighter starting at 8.30 with: Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come/Viv Stanshall's Seanhead Showband/Gene Vincent's Houseshakers/Pink Fairies/Egg/Third World War/Gnidrolog and John Peel holding it together." [25]



  1. Barry Miles, “Hippie” p. 292 (accessed via “Search Inside” feature gives an account of the raid and its aftermath. According to Jeff Dexter's account in Jonathon Green's Days In The Life, "Middle Earth closed after the horrible scenes of the police raid. We had had a private party that night and someone had brought along their children. The police raided, found the children and told the Covent Garden porters we were crucifying children in there. So they smashed the pace to pieces....They were going to kill us...We kept phoning the police and it took them 70 minutes to come. They'd been there en masse for the raid but they didn't come back..."
  2. Peel introduced Beefheart at his historic first UK gig: I started to introduce them at Middle Earth but was so overcome with emotion that I started crying, so I had to abandon my announcement half-way through. I said, "I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to say these words to you." (Quoted in "Captain Beefheart", Mike Barnes, p51, from the author's interview with Peel.) Beefheart also played the Speakeasy the following night, Jan. 21, before returning to Europe. This was presumably also attended by Peel, who famously acted as guide and chauffeur when the band returned to England for further dates.
  3. The report on the event in the magazine itself (issue 2, pg 10) thanks the performers and "Also to Dee-Jay PAT BEE who stepped in to save the day when we discovered that JOHN PEEL had been suddenly called away on tour." Many thanks to Colin Ellis for this information.
  4. Glenn Povey, Echoes: The Complete History Of Pink Floyd, p. 1959, accessed via Google Books
  5. Clive Selwood, All The Moves (But None Of The Kicks) p. 85
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