Coventry Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
HMV and Coventry Empire in partnership
So, the news is out and what great news it is. Coventry music venue, The Empire, will be in partnership with leading entertainment brand, HMV.
The venue, which is in the process of re-locating to the city centre, will be known as the HMV Empire in this historic three-year deal.
HMV Empire is due to open in Hertford Street this year, following a £500,000 re-development of a former retail site and cinema.
This is all very exciting news and Coventry now has national touring venue right in our heart.
The Empire has made one big move from Gosford Street to Hertford Street, but the Coventry HMV store has been in no less than five locations in the city.
Its first home was actually a few doors down from where the Empire is in Hertford Street. Indeed, its neighbour The Bier Keller rebranded to ‘The Dog and Trumpet’ as a mark of respect to HMV’s famous trademark the Nipper dog listening intently to His Masters Voice playing on the gramophone.
So, from there the shop moved to the entrance to the Lower Precinct where Waterstones is currently located.
It moved again to Hertford Street, a few doors down to its original site, then The Precinct a few doors up from M&S at the old Virgin Records shop and now finally next to Central Library.
Where it sells Specials and Chuck Berry records that were bizarrely recorded next door when the library was The Locarno/Tiffany’s nightclub!
Coventry HMV store manager Sarah Sekula said: “Our current store in Smithford Way is the fifth site we have had in Coventry over the years.
“We have been here since March 2016.
“We have hosted many performances and signings by local musicians in our stores including The Enemy (both in Hertford Street and Upper Precinct), Selecter, Neville and Christine Staple and most recently Joe Dolman.
“We have been so happy to be able to support many local unsigned artists and stock their music, and we now have permanent space dedicated to local music past and present in association with the Coventry Music Museum.
“The whole team is thrilled to be part of City of Culture 2021 and we’re excited about the new partnership with our much-loved local venue The Empire.
“It will be great to welcome music fans to the city and to our store on the way to the gigs!”
Empire founder, Phil Rooney, is delighted to have HMV on board: “When we first thought about commercial partners for the Empire, we were keen to avoid the usual lifestyle and utility companies, we always wanted a brand with a strong musical heritage and there’s none better than HMV.
“Growing up in Cov, the HMV in Hertford Street was the one place you were guaranteed to find me every weekend.
“To think now that we’re going to have a premier entertainment venue in the centre of the city, carrying the name of this iconic music retailer, it just blows my mind.”
The sponsorship, which runs until 2024, is HMV’s only venue naming deal in the UK and includes the potential for artist showcases and unique album launch events, bringing a host of names to Coventry.
Shows already confirmed at the HMV Empire include Tom Grennan, Arlo Parks, Roy Ayers, Maximo Park, Jimmy Carr and a number of events curated by Specials frontman Terry Hall as part of the City of Culture.
Subject to further Coronavirus restrictions the HMV Empire, Coventry is due to open with a socially distanced performance from the comedian, Al Murray, on June 11.