Threat to legendary Newport nightclub

South Wales Argus: TJ's owner John Sicolo in the club TJ's owner John Sicolo in the club

A NEWPORT club, a feature of the city’s night life for almost 40 years, is selling off thousands of pieces of music memorabilia in an effort to stave off closure.

TJs on Clarence Place first opened in 1971, and soon built up a reputation for hosting the newest bands.

Over the last four decades the club claims to have seen performances from a staggering 50,000 bands, including appearence by industry heavyweights such as Green Day, the Offspring, Manic Street Preachers, and Oasis.

Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain is also thought to have set foot in the club to watch wife Courtney Love perform with her band Holem, and the late John Peel dubbed it The Legendary TJs on his radio shows.

But owner of the club for the last 37 years John Sicolo says the club has been hit hard by the smoking ban, the recession, a failed business venture to open Langtons Cafe Bar in Charles Street, and his own poor health.

Once open seven nights a week, the club now opens only when a band is booked to play, and Mr Sicolo said the legendary bar could close within weeks if he cannot raise the £15,000 needed to keep it afloat.

To raise the cash he is planning to sell off around 2,000 items of the bar's music memorabilia - a collection which he had put aside as his own retirement fund.

“With the credit crunch a lot of people have had to cut back," said Mr Sicolo. "They're just not coming in any more.”

The club's closure would put two full time and four part time staff out of work and mark the end of an era for Newport's music scene.

Mr Sicolo said: “I could sell it, but I love the business. I don’t want to see it ending up as a chain pub or Tesco Metro store. But if I don’t raise the money, I’ll have to sell.”

Around 500 items will go up for sale at the club from 2pm today, including signed T-shirts, posters and records from bands such as Lost Prophets and the Dropkick Murphys.

Weekly sales will be held until enough money has been raised and items can also be purchased on www.tjsnewport.com.

For more information telephone 07538543606.

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