IT was the den of debauchery where royals rubbed shoulders with Rolling Stones and A-listers jostled to be on the guest list.
But now exclusive London nightclub Tramp has shut up shop, in somewhat mysterious circumstances.
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson partied in her bikini and was used by Rod Stewart as his own personal dating serviceCredit: Getty
Rocker Rod Stewart partying with model Rachel Hunter in the infamous clubCredit: Alan Grisbrook
The club inspired Jackie Collins’s erotic 1969 novel The Stud, and the 1978 film was shot there, including a scene of Jackie’s sister Joan cavorting on a swingCredit: Alamy
For more than 50 years it was the place to be for any self-respecting celeb after hours. It was where the late socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson partied in her bikini and it was used by Rod Stewart as his personal dating service.
The rocker once declared: “It’s lucky they didn’t have camera phones back in those days at Tramp or we’d all be in prison . . . the things we got up to.”
Tramp prided itself on its discretion, giving rise to a very loyal fanbase. General manager David Fleming said in 2019: “What happens in Tramp, stays in Tramp.”
He added: “It was always meant to be a place where people could let loose and party and be free.”
READ MORE ON TRAMP NIGHTCLUB
And they certainly did that. Kate Moss was a Tramp regular, and on one notable occasion in 2015 — celebrity hairstylist Sam McKnight’s 60th birthday bash — she jumped on the decks and was so good that her hard-partying guests were literally swinging from the chandeliers.
That was also something that had got Keith Moon temporarily banned from the club in the 1970s.
The Who’s hell-raising drummer turned up at Tramp naked, strapped to the bonnet of a white Rolls-Royce. Once inside, he swung from a 17th-century chandelier, bringing it crashing down, along with some of the ceiling.
His behaviour got him barred by owner Johnny Gold, who only let him back in after Keith rang him, sobbing: “You can’t bar me, where else will I go?”
The members-only club on Jermyn Street in London’s Mayfair first opened its doors in 1969.
Named after the Charlie Chaplin character, it was the brainchild of Johnny, the son of a Brighton bookie, who set it up with partners Bill Ofner and Oscar Lerman — husband of novelist Jackie Collins.
Naomi Campbell chose Tramp to host the 1994 after-party of the launch of her forgotten debut novel, SwanCredit: Getty
Among the founding members was Mick Jagger, who once arrived with his new girlfriend, model Jerry Hall, to discover that his estranged wife Bianca was in the toiletsCredit: Getty
Liz Hurley was also a regular at the celeb hangoutCredit: Getty
Johnny managed to persuade 300 friends and celebrities to become founding members for the princely sum of ten guineas each, or £10.50.
Those original members have not seen their annual membership fee increase in more than 50 years — although new members today have to pay £1,000 a year.
Johnny once confessed: “I thought we might get two or three years out of it.” But with no strict dress code and no paparazzi getting tipped off by managers, the dimly-lit basement club was an instant hit.
David Fleming says that in the early days it was “just normal” to find The Beatles seated next to the Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra. He added: “No one batted an eye.”
Among the founding members was Mick Jagger, who once arrived with his new girlfriend, model Jerry Hall, to discover that his estranged wife Bianca was in the toilets.
Luckily for the Stones frontman, quick-thinking maitre d’ Guido blocked the couple from view before leading them to a darkened corner where they wouldn’t be spotted.
The club quickly became a byword for debauchery. One night Jack Nicholson French-kissed a homeless man who asked him for change outside the entrance.
George Best was a regular — so much so that his Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby would call Tramp when the player failed to show up to training. George’s second autobiography, The Good, The Bad And The Bubbly, even featured his favourite nightspot.
The 1990 book opened with the immortal line: “I punched Michael Caine to the floor in Tramp one night.” One waiter said of the scrap: “What a show!”
Sir Michael was another regular face at the club, where he met his wife, actress and model Shakira. He said in 2007: “I used to live in Tramp. I was in there every night — givin’ it some of that!”
Manager David recalled how 20 years ago the club played host to three James Bonds — Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Roger Moore — after they bumped into each other at Tramp and ended up having dinner together in the club’s Zodiac restaurant.
Rihanna and Drake partied at Tramp until 5am after their super steamy performance at the Brit AwardsCredit: Alamy
George Best was a regular — so much so that his Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby would call Tramp when the player failed to show up to trainingCredit: Alamy
Tramp was where Prince Andrew met actress Koo Stark in 1982 and where he took future wife Sarah FergusonCredit: Richard Young Photographic
Alleged former Russian spy Anna Chapman is said to have stalked Tramp, according to MI5 chiefs, in her bid to scheme her way into social circles of Princes William and HarryCredit: Rex
The venue inspired Jackie Collins’s erotic 1969 novel The Stud, and the 1978 film adaptation was shot there, including a racy scene of Jackie’s sister Joan cavorting on a swing above the dance floor.
Jackie once said: “Tramp has given me more research than I can handle.”
Joan is said to have been a fan of Tramp’s 24-carat gold burger, a regular 3am order of hers.
Once, US actress Shirley MacLaine fell asleep at a table while fellow actor Mel Brooks ran around barking like a dog.
David Fleming said Shirley was a fan of Tramp’s bangers and mash, recalling that she would “form them into the shape of a man’s genitals”, complete with the naughty addition of some mayonnaise.
Marlon Brando refused to leave, and would even stay for breakfast, tucking into a dish of pasta. A waiter, Nicolas, said: “After a night here he’d say, ‘No, no, I won’t leave!’ He used to sit there with the staff.”
Tramp’s laid-back attitude was a hit with celebs. As well as Tara Palmer-Tomkinson spending her 27th birthday bash there in a bikini and snorkel, Catherine Zeta-Jones also held her 30th birthday party there in 1999, with new boyfriend Michael Douglas at her side.
And Naomi Campbell chose Tramp to host the 1994 after-party of the launch of her forgotten debut novel Swan.
As well as the celeb crowd, the Mayfair haunt was also a favourite among royals. Princess Margaret enjoyed a dance with Lord Snowdon there in the 1970s, and it was where Prince Andrew met his actress lover Koo Stark in 1982 and where he took future wife Sarah Ferguson. It was also where he allegedly whirled around the dance floor with Virginia Giuffre — something he denies.
Princess Diana was another guest, particularly when she was dating fellow Tramp fan Dodi Fayed.
Before Dodi was with Diana, Johnny Gold recalls trying to steer him away from one attractive woman. Dodi then asked: “Johnny, what’s the matter with you?” To which the owner replied: “If you must know, your father’s f***ing her.”
In the 2000s alleged former Russian spy Anna Chapman is also said to have stalked Tramp and other favourite royal nightspots, according to MI5 chiefs, in her bid to scheme her way into the social circle of Princes William and Harry.
In 2016, Tramp hosted the afterparty of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds gig at London’s Brixton Academy, with David Beckham taking son Brooklyn, then 17, with him.
The same year, Rihanna and Drake partied at the venue until 5am after their super-steamy performance at the Brit Awards.
Tramp’s founder Johnny sold the club in 1998 but continued as host for five years before retiring to the Bahamas. He died aged 89 in 2021.
Only a month ago Idris Elba chose Tramp to launch his rosé champagne, Porte Noire. But just weeks later five of the club’s key directors — who bought the club for £4million in 1998 — resigned from the holding company which now owns Tramp.
The Who’s hell-raising drummer Keith Moon turned up at Tramp naked, strapped to the bonnet of a white Rolls-RoyceCredit: Alamy
Owner Johnny GoldCredit: Alamy
Members received an email to say the club was closed because it had been sold.
Trump’s new owner is reported to be Luca Maggiora, a former bank credit analyst who is now a “hospitality entrepreneur”. He said in a 2019 interview: “Nightclubs was my hobby on the side of my banking job but when my nightlife work was making more money for me than banking, I quit banking to set up my first boutique West End club.”
Whatever the future holds for Tramp, with celebs nowadays more focused on wellness and maintaining their social media image, the end of such a haven for hedonism could mean the golden age of celebrity antics is well and truly over.
STARS TO RIFF RAFF
By Kate Spicer, who partied at Tramp
LAST time I visited, I drank champagne and caviar vodka and ate a burger with gold leaf and foie gras. But don’t be fooled by these symbols of wealth and luxury. Tramp was never up its own a**e. It let me in, for starters.
I could never have wriggled past the door at Annabel’s, Tramp’s only rival for the rich, famous and royal. But you’d find all sorts down in the basement club where the only no-no was to be a bad drunk or a fighter. The DJ Fat Tony remembers bribing the toilet attendant to let him shag someone in a cubicle. A glamorous 80-year-old I know says she danced topless on the bar.
Yes, it was a favourite disco for three generations of British royals, major and minor. Buckingham Palace is a stone’s throw away, so Margaret, Anne, William, Harry, Fergie and Diana all piled in.
But while royals from Saudi to Sweden loved it down there, the other punters were a fabulous assortment. They might have been loaded but they certainly weren’t posh.
While other establishments were still stuck in antiquated ideas of no jeans, and jackets and ties, Tramp never had a dress code. Nor any snobby ideas of whose face fitted.
Before multicultural Britain was even a concept, Tramp’s 17th century wood-panelled dance floor was a seething, boogying example of our national ability to get down with one and all.
Rock stars and royalty is what it will be best remembered for, but there were also suave gangsters and society girls, badly behaved sports stars, off-duty movie stars, a United Nations of international rich spoilt brats and a rogue’s gallery of playboys and fun-loving girls on the make.
There were secret ways in and out, and few pictures or gossip leaked out.
Tramp was never cool. Its music policy seemed to be there’s no such thing as too much Abba. And it was always riotous good fun.
One thing often missed in the story of Tramp is the cheeky good humour of the Italian waiting staff.
I’ve never known such sincere warmth and patience, even at 5am.
I hope it rises again, because it embodies a very British type of acceptance.