Page last updated at 22:09 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

TJ's music venue owner John Sicolo dies in hospital

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TJ's founder John Sicolo shows BBC Wales around the Newport rock venue

Tributes have been paid to the owner of one of Wales' best known rock venues, who has died at the age of 66.

John Sicolo opened TJ's in Newport nearly 40 years ago and was a favourite of the late DJ John Peel.

Oasis, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Manic Street Preachers and Primal Scream were among bands who appeared there.

The Manics, who are from nearby Blackwood, said they were "very sad and shocked" by his death, and are backing a campaign to keep TJ's open.

The band said their thoughts were with the family and friends of Mr Sicolo.

Music promoter Julian Blake also paid tribute to Mr Sicolo, saying: "He was a legend who brought many bands to Newport."

In recent years the venue has struggled financially, and Mr Sicolo had been planning to auction memorabilia from the club to keep it open. A benefit concert was also in the pipeline.

John Sicolo - photo courtesy of the Sicolo family
RIP John Sicolo. You were a legend, I just hope TJ's might live on
Paul Lloyd, from Cwmbran, on Twitter

Mr Blake added: "He put Newport on the global music map to the extent that Newport was said to be the new Seattle."

Mr Sicolo had been in hospital this week for a replacement knee operation.

One of the TJ's staff told BBC Wales that Mr Sicolo had died at 0600 GMT on Sunday at the Royal Gwent hospital, Newport.

"The cause of death is not yet known," he said, adding, "Rest in peace, mate."

He said Mr Sicolo's family would be releasing a statement on Monday.

Mr Sicolo was a former merchant navy seaman, where he served as a cook. He founded the club in 1971, first christening it El Sieco's before renaming it TJ's Disco.

Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros performing in 2002
Joe Strummer played at TJ's a number of times before his death in 2005

Among Welsh bands who performed at the Clarence Place venue were Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Catatonia.

Joe Strummer, who was an art student in Newport known as Woody before finding fame with The Clash, played at the club a number of times in the years before his death in 2005.

Another late rock star with a link to TJ's is Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, who is said to have watched his wife-to-be Courtney Love perform there with her band, Hole.

The late BBC DJ and presenter John Peel dubbed the venue "the legendary TJ's" on his radio shows.

Tributes to Mr Sicolo have been made on social network sites, Twitter and Facebook by fans of TJ's.

"RIP John Sicolo. You were a legend, I just hope TJ's might live on," said Paul Lloyd, from Cwmbran, on Twitter.

"Sad to hear about the passing of John Sicolo. He was a true gentleman, and helped me in many ways. He will be greatly missed," wrote Ian Hewett, from Cardiff.


Here is a selection of your tributes to John Sicolo:

He gave us the opportunity to get out geetars out and play in front of a crowd. You'll be missed John.

A great loss to the area and live music.

Long live TJ's.
Rob McCarthy, Newbridge/Newport

Was in college in Newport from 88 to 91. Suffered badly from depression. But luckily lived about 300 yards from TJ's. Saw some amazing bands there. That place sustained me.

RIP John. Thank you.
Dilwyn, LLandysul

Johnny Sicolo told me he wanted to ride through the port in a brand new rolls royce signaling his appreciation to Newport Councilors with 2 fingers... raise yr grog to a true hero
mekons, newport

He sounded like a great man, and Newport needs as many great men as it can get . As we can tell be all these posts, he will be sorely missed
James, Newport

TJ's will never be the same without John Sicolo. He made TJ's into an iconic venue for all bands new and old. TJ's in a way was Sicolo's as we all used to call it in the eighties and early nighties. I have known John for 21 years and he aways made me wlcome to his establishment, he will be deeply missed and was an iconic figure in Newport. In fact they should erect a bronze statue in his memory.
Paul Jones, Newport

John was always very supportive of all servicemen, especially seamen . A man full of life& vitality , who always looked for the good in people and was surprisingly gentle for a man in his business. I will remember the open smile and the joy he brought to so many . Wishes & condolences to all the family
Gilly, Newport

The best half of Newport grew up falling out of TJ's on weekends gone by. At its mid-nineties peak, every band that mattered played under John's roof and for a little while our grey and hopeless town looked like it could take on the world. John made it possible for people to put on gigs and put out records that inspired people to pick up guitars and do the same. Deepest sympathy to his friends and family.
Chris Vinnicombe, Newport, South Wales

massive loss, the saddest news, i lived above seico's for 4 years and worked the weekends dj'ing, and seriously had the best times, john without saying was the best landlord/boss you could wish for, he must have kept the sane minds and bodies of so many, with his excellent cooking skills and humility...an inspiration to me, and i know, thousands more!...this unfortunately, really is the end of era...devastating...rest in peace john...laters, until the next time. x p.s. i hope to **** T.j's remains open!

he worked too hard.

nick-th-punk/newport/saltburn, saltburn by the sea

A great guy. John truly put Newport on the map! He did wonders for the local music scene, as well as bringing in bands from around the world! John gave people opportunities, when no one else would, and really should be proud for what he achieved, as all of us are! Rest in peace fella, and may your legacy live on!
Sam Gummer, Newport, Wales

A kind down to earth and generous man. A truely unsung welsh hero and the world of rock music owes him a dept. I hope TJ's survives and I hope Newport council honor him as appropriate. Its up to us 30-somethings who remember Newport when it was a great night out to make this happen.
Phil J Hill, Newport Wales

Seicos, later tj's was a place with no frills, just great music and people and it stayed that way for nearly 3 decades. the only place where music seemed more important than profit and it was all down to john and trilby. they both had the respect of all the people who ever went there. Definitely the end of an era .
Martin Browning, newport gwent

John would throw me out of TJ's quite alot, back in the late 80's, early 90's, for being too drunk. Nevertheless, I always had a lot of respect for the guy and I would serve each ban with a smile! Death is a sad thing anyway, but to lose John is to lose part of Newport, my past, and maybe our future for the music scene.
Bunsen Honeydew, The Port

This is such a sad loss for Newport and all musicians who have ever played the great Tj's. John was a gent, a man who made most of our teenage dreams possible. Playing there was always a great experience and he made every band who walke through the door feel like they had accomplished something special. RIP John... Newport will keep rocking in your honour for a long time to come.
Bronson, Cwmbran

A great man, great gigs and the best friday nights anywhere. RIP John, you'll be greatly missed.
Barrie Wallington, Wellington, New Zealand

John always treated the punters, however wrecked, with respect and a smile. I have so many great memories of T.J.'s and a lot of them were down to the atmosphere he helped create. A top man, R.I.P.
Anthony, Cardiff

RIP John,so sad a real Newport legend, a big support musically, good motivator and strong support to local talent. Sadly missed x x
Deb violinist, H/West

SAD SAD NEWS!! GREAT MAN GREAT CLUB!! SOME OF MY BEST NIGHTS HAVE BEEN IN TJ,S!! VANDALS, TSUNAMI BOMB 2 NAME A FEW!! PLEASE DONT LET IT CLOSE!
PHIL, CHEPSTOW

A sad day in south Wales, everybody knew John and John knew everybody.
Andrew Clements , Calgary, Canada

I am very sad to hear of Johns passing away. We used to go to TJ's many nights every week from the late 80's and through the 90's, it was a great time to go there, John would see us coming in and if we were a little too drunk he would tell us "Go and have a coffee next door" or would shout to the bar "These pair, coca-cola only", all done with a smile and a joke, and we respected that. John was a great bloke and an inspiration, and I hope that TJ's survives for many years. R.I.P John.
Dai, Newbridge

Legendary guy, if you weren't in tj's through the 90's you missed out big time! Top bloke, always friendly even when we were being fools! Rock in peace
Rob Buss, Newport

I played TJs a couple of times with my Band all Living Fear, Once supporting Nirvana's mates Flipper, the other as a headline show, John just let us get on with it, and keep all the door money for our efforts, you don't get many honest venue owners like that these days. RIP John.
Matthew North, Plymouth

Dear John, such a lovely man. I used to go to Seico's in the early 80s and still remember how warm and friendly he was. Rest in peace xx
Carmela , Abergavenny

The enthusiasm and love he brought to the music scene in Newport has left an astonishing lagacy. Very sad news.
Jane Oriel, Blackwood

You will be missed by many big fella. Thanks for looking out for us and many many other bands. Lets hope TJ's lives on as a tribute to you ! Thanks. Gagz, No Choice.
Gagz, Cardiff

John Sicolo will be sadly missed, What a legend and left one hell of a legacy! TJ's must continue. RIP John !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Jayce Lewis, Kenfig Hill - Bridgend

Thanks BBC for putting John's little tour of TJs online. I gave him those Oasis photos about a week after I took them. 'Feel touched that he kept them for so long. Anyone remember the 'Rocket From The Crypt' gig? TJs at its best. John lifted me onto Speedo's guitar amp as there wasn't any room to take pics. Nothing like sitting on a Marshall at full volume :-/
david hardacre, cardiff

RIP, Goodbye and thanks to you music is kept real and alive
Huw Williams, Llanelli, Wales

All a bit of shock, we always knew the venue as Sicolos - it was a place you belonged to - all intensity, passion & being who you had to be without fear. A sad loss for Newport, Wales and music, thank you for all the insane nights John.
MarkJ, London

I was so upset when I heard John passed away. I started going to t.j.s when I was just a teenager and worked there on and off for over 6 years. So many good memories of John, he always gave the best hugs and helped me through alot of personal stuff as well. One of my fondest memories is working there one New Years eve, about 4 in the morning, myself John and the rest of the staff ate a curry he had cooked followed by a slowdance with John as he was a bit merry. Will always be in my thoughts. RIP John, will miss you.xxxxxx
Kelly, Newport

A true legend. Rest in peace John.
Lee (Lee J) Jenkins, Abercarn

John you truely were a legend! A gentleman and a rogue, you always had a smile and a hug for me. I practically grew up in TJ's! The music, the mosh pits, the fights and the laughs will always be a part of my history. You rocked! Rest in peace mate xXx
Leonie , Newport

We knew John through Langtons as Sally gigged there a few times.A lovely Gentleman in the true sense of the word.He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.Condolences to his family.R.I.P Johnnie xxx
Jane & Sally Martin, Cwmbran

Whenever I went to TJs, John and his late wife, Trilby, always spoke to me and my friends. They would treat us all like best friends and ask how things were going and the like. Really nice people and a sad loss.
Martyn, Milton Keynes

Playing at TJs was a rite of passage for me and anyone else involved in the 80s/90s music scene. My band, Senseless Things, played there several times, and the personal touch that John brought to the place made it a favourite. He did provide what was often the only healthy meal of the whole tour... TJs was and presumably still is a dive, but a rock'n'roll heart beat within. Lovely bloke. RIP.
Ben Harding, London, UK

I have fond memories of John and the gang back when my brother Bob was a DJ for El Sieco's. I even got to watch my brother help put up the chicken wire and paper maiche "cavern" effect inside the club while i sat there as a kid drinking coke given to me by john. :)As i got older and started going there myself for nights out, John was always there at the door with a smile on his face and even asking how my brother Bob was. A great venue, with an even greater host. A legend and one of Newport's greatest sons. He will be sorely missed....
Jeff, Newport

We played our first gigs in Newport back in the day at John's place. In fact, we got our first record company interest playing at TJ's. The Christmas gig we did with Dub War was amazing - John cooked us curry and I can't remember leaving (like most nights there). Newport as truly lost a legend.
Paul (Flyscreen), Bristol, UK

My band played TJ's several times and even though we were the support act, unknown and useless John fed us, put us up (in his front room) and was always a total gentleman. A great loss but he will be remembered warmly by many.
mark, London

May his legendary name live on. I spent so many years of my teenage years in TJ's and he was a truly great gent.Thank you for the Music x
Rachel, Newport

Very fond memories of TJ's - especially during the early 90s. John was always very friendly and an imposing figure on the dancefloor, ensuring everyone enjoyed themselves but with a reasonable sense of order. He always seemed to be happy simply seeing others enjoying the music. A great man and a sad loss.
Griff,

Very sad to hear this Sounds like he was a great music spirit
Harmonicamatt, London

Blimey. I remember when Trilby died in 95 or 96. Now John. So many memories of so many nights out back in the late 1990's when TJs was, in clubbing terms, an utter force to be reckoned with, a better night out could not be found anywhere, full stop. Best gig? Echo and The Bunnymen in the late nineties.
Alex, Newport

As some one who has travelled up to TJ's many a time over the years to watch the likes of Orange Goblin, Clutch, Blaze, Ginger Wildheart and Lostprophets I just hope and pray that John's legend is continued and this little venue keeps bringing great bands into the area. RIP John.
Nige Taylor, Plymouth, Devon

To echo my Mum's words below, John was the glue holding the Newport music scene together for decades. You can tell from the age range of people paying tribute across Newport's musical generations how absolutely influential and crucial he has been culturally. He's been a strong presence and it feels surreal that he won't be around. I only hope local music carries on strong as his legacy. Thanks John and Rock in Peace. Jim Sadler (ex New State Radio bassist)
James Sadler, Newport, Wales

I met my boyfriend there nearly 17 years ago in TJ's and we are still together now. We had some fantastic times there and saw some great bands. Only stopped going cos everyone seemed to be about 14 years old and it made us feel old! John would always grab me by the cheeks (face!) and give me a hug every time I went in there. He will be sorely missed and Newport will not be the same now he's gone.
Sophie, Newport

As some one who has travelled up to TJ's many a time over the years to watch the likes of Orange Goblin, Clutch, Blaze, Ginger Wildheart and Lostprophets I just hope and pray that John's legend is continued and this little venue keeps bringing great bands into the area. RIP John.
Nige Taylor, Plymouth, Devon

To echo my Mum's words below, John was the glue holding the Newport music scene together for decades. You can tell from the age range of people paying tribute across Newport's musical generations how absolutely influential and crucial he has been culturally. He's been a strong presence and it feels surreal that he won't be around. I only hope local music carries on strong as his legacy. Thanks John and Rock in Peace.Jim Sadler (ex New State Radio bassist)
James Sadler, Newport, Wales

I met my boyfriend there nearly 17 years ago in TJ's and we are still together now. We had some fantastic times there and saw some great bands. Only stopped going cos everyone seemed to be about 14 years old and it made us feel old! John would always grab me by the cheeks (face!) and give me a hug every time I went in there. He will be sorely missed and Newport will not be the same now he's gone.
Sophie, Newport

As a member of the small "Gloucester Posse" that have regularly attended shows at The Legendary TJs since 1987, I'm shocked and saddened by the news. John was the most friendly club owner, always at the gigs... he looked after the touring bands, making sure they had a decent meal etc. For my money it was largely down to him that TJs has been the best Live music venue in the UK for many years. It feels like the end of an era, very sad news...
Jon Barnes, Gloucester

Screaming Lord Sutch and the Monstors of Rock....one of many fantastic nights at TJ's
Andrew Couldrey, Bridgend, Wales

Great, genuine bloke. So many great memories of TJ's.. he will be sorely missed.
Helen, Newport

My old band Snuff played TJ's lots of times and it was always a great gig that we looked forward to. I remember John so well and how he would bring you through to his front room and give you dinner in front of the telly before you played. He had a great sense of humour and would often be seen down the front of the show with a fat cigar in his mouth doing crowd control. Top man, so sad to hear this news. x
Simon Wells (Snuff), London England

Over the last 15 years I have enjoyed my pilgrimage to TJs. As anyone who met John knows how he welcomed everyone and I loved his stories of the bands and people he met, I spent many times listening to him talk about these great times. He gave me the opportunity to promote my first gig in TJs.

John was such a great guy. My parents would never had let me go to so many gigs when I was younger had they not know John would be there to look after us all. So many great memories due to this mans generosity.
Dan Gray, Newport

John was a true gentleman and treated everyone equally. The last time I spoke to him was during the last Therapy? gig, he wasn't well and it showed. I know John loved to sail. Sail away John x
Su Worlock, Cwmaman, Wales

A true legend. He put Newport on the map and I hope TJ's can stay afloat in honour of Mr Sicolo. A tragic loss to Newport, Wales and the whole club/ music culture. What a Man! He will be sadly missed and i'm sure everyone wishes his a great fairwell and that he may Rest In Peace.
Owain, Newport

you were a true star thank you for the best years of my life spoke 2 you xmas time , so glad i give you a big hug, when your name is said i got a big smile , R.I.P , MY FRIEND JOHN, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED AS THE BEST GOD BLESS YOU XXXXX
rebecca reed edwards,

Thank's John-some great memories and the best thing about newport for so many years. Punk music will be replacing harps in heaven this week.........A massive loss to Newport and Wales.
Jason hughes, Newport

Have been going to Tjs for many many years. This is sad news indeed, John was a great guy and used to get some great bands to play :) have many good memories of that place and have him to thank for it. He will be missed by many i'm sure.

Michael Smith, cwmbran

I photographed many bands in TJs for many years. John would always feed me while feeding the bands before each gig. During the more rowdy gigs, John was always at the front with the best of 'em. Fondest memories? John's dog Rex eating half a pot of veggie curry before the rest was fed to Steve Albini and Liam Gallagher getting a clip across the ear for being lippy.
dave hardacre, cardiff

John you will be sadly missed by those who knew you and those musicians you had faith in and gave a chance. There was and is nowhere like TJ's and it wouldn't have been the same without you. You were TJ's. Rest in peace X
Lynda Sadler, Newport Gwent

This is sad news. John will be sadly missed. Met John a few times when I played his club. He was one of the nicest blokes I have ever met. RIP mate!
Mal Roberts, Swansea

a great character,thanks for giving my various bands over the years a great opertunity to play live,look down on us and smile.
craig orchard, llanharan

It's hard to think of TJ's without the man who created the legend there to admire. I think there will always be a part of Johnny still present and I hope the legend will live on
Dan Donnelly, Pontypool

John, thank you for the music and the good times! Fond memories forever. xxx
Heledd Owen, Totnes, Devon

Known John for 30 years, he was a true Punk to the last and has done more for the youth culture in Wales than any government of the last 40 years and kept a lot of kids on the straight and narrow. A truly Great loss.
Reg Cumper, Newport

A great bloke, will be greatly missed. Very sad day.
Dato Gradnahze, Newport Wales



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