The Hammersmith Apollo theater, 45 Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QH, named at its conception The Gaumont Palace cinema, opened in 1932 and had the capabilities to seat more than 3,500 spectators. The theater has had several name changes in the last seven decades. In 1962, the theater was renamed the Hammersmith Odeon, the abbreviation of which ("Hammy-O") people today continue to use. After receiving major renovations and a sponsorship deal, the venue was renamed Labatt's Apollo. Later, the theater was named The Hammersmith Apollo. In 2002, the name was changed once again and the theater was named the Carling Apollo, a named agreed upon when a brewery made a deal with the owners. In 2006, the building returned to its former name, The Hammersmith Apollo, and around the same time, the seats contained within were made to be removed and, as a result, some concerts shown have full seating while others have few seats. When the seats are removed, the Apollo is able to accommodate approximately 5,000 people.
The building, designed in the Art Deco style by Robert Cromie, was made a Grade II listed building in 1990 and in 2005 was upgraded to Grade II status. The current layout has the theater arranged on two levels, that of stalls and the circle. The circle offers good views of the stage from its seats. The back section of this area is located at a great height, thanks to the theater's earlier days as a cinema, but despite the height, the view is good from these seats. The door to the stage is located at the right-hand side of the building, but this entrance is protected by a guarded security gate. The box office is located at the far right of the small first foyer seen upon entrance into the theater.
A pipe organ, a 1932 Compton original, is still located at the theater. It was fully restored in 2007 and now has full playing capabilities. The organ has a four-manual console and about 1,2000 organ pipes in chambers above the ceiling of the front stalls. It was disconnected during the 1990s but was reinstated and re-presented at a July 25, 2007, launch party. Organist Richard Hills was invited to play the organ during this event.
The Hammersmith Apollo has played host to many popular performing artists and shows and is one of the most important concert venues in Great Britain. During the 1960s, the theater offered performances by artists such as The Beatles, Bob Marley, Black Sabbath, Queen, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. In 1973, David Bowie performed the final concert of Ziggy Stardust at this location and in 1984, Soft Cell played their farewell shows. Other artists, such as Dire Straits, Thin Lizzy and Frank Zappa, have recorded live albums, portions of albums and live concert footage at the Hammersmith Apollo. The theater also appeared in the American film "Just My Luck," and has been, since 2004, the venue for "Live at the Apollo," a BBC television series.