THE night Oasis were signed, they weren't even supposed to be there. Two bands from Creation records, Eighteen Wheeler and Boyfriend, were playing and that's why Alan McGee was there.

Oasis just turned up and, as legend has it - not that it's 500 years ago - they turned up unwanted because by that time King Tut's had a name for itself. They agreed to let them jump on for 20 minutes and they were signed on the spot.

Now, 12 years later, the tourist bus goes by and mentions K ing Tut's. It sits outside by the lights and from the window in my office upstairs, I can hear the guy talking through our history. It's done that for about three or four years now.

People will always mention us because of Oasis, but I think the last three or four years, with bands such as The Strokes, Keane and The Darkness playing here and moving on to bigger things - they have been just as important.

One highlight of mine is when The Darkness first played in November 2002. Their first single was just out or coming out and they weren't connected with a major label. There was a review in Kerrang! and I think I'd been sent a CD demo of their single.

The first time I watched them, I stood at the side of the stage watching Justin Hawkins, the lead singer, striding along like Angus Young - they were a lot more AC/DC in their early days. He took his top off and had a white, frilly shirt on over purple velvet bottoms.

He looked like a unicorn, I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.

We booked him straight back in March 2003 and they sold out.

There was a gap of 15 months and they were headlining T in the Park.

It was a bit of a risk at first because they weren't known at all really.

We've been pretty lucky. There's not much money to be made in bands. We're pretty tight and spend a lot of money on the PA and there's more money to be lost than made. There's a few things we do that sell more tickets.

The thing we do is get the local bands in at a really early stage and match them up with better-known bands so that people see them and get a chance to know them. King Tut's is a feeder venue. It's a launcher venue and that's the way we work it. There's no point getting unknown bands in and complaining they're not pulling any crowds.

Once the Mercury was announced, we started getting a lot of calls, a lot of interviews, because there were a lot of Scottish and Glasgow bands on the list. But I think it's always been there, from 1990 when you had Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits and all those bands, that Bellshill era. It just so happens now that we have bands a lot of Glasgow-based, Scottish bands such as Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, Mylo and Biffy Clyro winning awards.

I was listening to Biffy Clyro five and a half years ago on a demo cassette tape. They're a perfect example of a band that started off filling the local slot, then gone on to sell out King Tut's themselves, getting signed, getting a manager and going on to sell out the Barrowland. They're playing the Carling Academy this week, which is a 2500-capacity venue and they've sold out there as well.

There was this view a few years ago that you had to leave Scotland to make it big and a few bands did do it. There was this belief that you had to go to London which certainly never has been the case.

Maybe it was a bit easier for them a few years ago, but I think now you can stay in Glasgow.

The month Tut's opened (February 1990)was the same week that I booked my first gig in Gourock, 20 miles from Glasgow, where I grew up and still live. I was DJing, playing things like The Smiths, Buzzcocks, Black Flag and that sort of indie, rocky stuff. Back then in Tut's, there used to be mirrors opposite the bar so you could stand there and watch the bands without actually having to face the stage. I just thought it was a dead clean, tidy venue. For a venue that does 350 gigs a year - it's quite a tough turnaround - every band that arrives should feel that it's not just a cattle market with one in, one out. I hope they all feel they're treated with the same respect.


When King Tut's started, you had your raves and acid-house scene and I thinkmaybe the start of the Manchester scene coming. You had the Stone Roses coming in - it was a new era of music.

There's a lot more rock - punk and hardcore - acts now compared with six years ago. The thing I've noticed is that bands have gone from playing Tut's to playing Barrowland a fewmonths later. It used to take bands two or three years and maybe two albums to do that. Now they bounce straight up to the Barrowland after King Tut's, which is great.

The audiences we get here are very varied. The lunchtime audience we have is usually very different from the night-time gig audience. We can have anything from a hardcore metal punk band, with quite a young audience, to an Americana and country night, where we have 30 year olds to 60 year olds.

People like the fact you can come along, have a drink downstairs, then see the band upstairs. People see it as their own now. It's in Glasgow, it's part of the Scottish culture.

It's the perfect shape for a venue, like in the small dancef loor where people are so close to the band they can touch them. Everything's put together as if it were made to be.

My personal highlight was when Joe Strummer (lead singer of The Clash) played a few months after I started in June 1999. That was one of the highlights for me because he's a personal hero and always will be. Standing there by the stage listening to a person you've always idolised playing White Man in Hammersmith Palais and White Riot and all those kind of songs. I thought 'Jesus, is this really happening?'. I was worried about meeting Joe Strummer, but he was a great guy. I got a copy of London Calling signed "To Dave, King Tut's, 1999". When I went home that night, even though it was a permanent marker, I put a stick between the bag and the record so it didn't smudge.

The Sugar Hill Gang (a New York band credited with putting out the first hip-hop record) was an amazing gig. We gave a menu out and there was things such as haddock and chips and cheeseburger and chips, pasta, baked potatoes and various different things. They were all big, big boys - they wanted cheeseburgers and chips and baked potato, fish and chips and cheeseburgers. They were having two meals together and thought that was quite normal.

They all wanted individual bottles of champagne which we went out to get - it was a costly night. The stage we had then, there was nothing wrong with it, but you could see it straining. They were all 25-stone guys and they invited another 20 people on stage with them at the end of the gig. It was one of the great, great nights here.

At the end, they came off stage and went to the merchandise stall to sell their own merchandise because they wouldn't trust anyone else to sell their stuff. They were taking so much cash, it was like the stock exchange, it was incredible. People generally say onstage at King Tut's that it's the best audience on tour. They don't just say it for the effect of saying it, they do mean it. You see bands down south and compare it to up here - the punters are just more up for it, more excited about the bands coming to their town.

I do put in a lot of hours. I turn up at the office maybe 9.30, 10am.

If there's a show on, I'll come down to see the band and do the doors afterwards, then drive home and get back at 2, 2.30am. I think that's STAGE STRUTTERS: The Darkness were virtual unknowns when they first played King Tut's. The venue's Midas touch in breaking new talent soon rubbed off on the glam rockers.

the way to do, there's no point doing it half-heartedly.

I don't actually treat it as a job because I do love it. That may sound sentimental, but I do love what I do. I think you've got to in this business.

HISTORY OF THE HUT King Tut's Wah Wah Hut was opened in 1990 by Stuart Clumpas, then head of DF Concerts, who aimed promote bands seven days a week at a reasonable price.

Previously known as Saints and Sinners, he took the name from a New York club.

Its place in pop's annals was secured in 1993 when Oasis played a 20-minute supporting set and were instantly signed by Alan McGee, head of Creation Records, who happened to be in the audience.

Through the 1990s, a succession of bands cut their teeth in the tight, 300-capacity attic room that sat atop the St Vincent Street venue. They included the Manic Street Preachers, Coldplay (singer, Chris Martin, pictured left), Pulp, Blur and Radiohead. In 1999, the Manics performed at T in the Park and dedicated a song to "King Tut's, the first venue to treatus properly and give us hot foodon tour".

The past five years has seen more bands performing while on the cusp of stardom. The Hives, The White Stripes and The Strokes played within a three-month period in 2001 before taking their guitar-infused rock aesthetic to the mainstream.