Tribute paid to legendary Sheffield nightclub boss

Tributes have been paid to a legendary Sheffield nightclub owner renowned for helping to put the city’s nightlife on the map.

By The Star Newsroom
Tuesday, 26 March, 2019, 10:17
Steve Baxendale

Sheffield businessman Steve Baxendale, aged 67, died suddenly and unexpectedly after falling ill over Christmas.

COURT: Women jailed for ‘deplorable’ attack on man during a party at his Sheffield home After taking time to try to come to terms with his death, his four children, Stephen, Angela, Francesca and Baron, have today paid pay tribute to their dad, who is renowned across Sheffield for running a number of nightclubs which attracted tens of thousands of revellers to the city over the years.

Steve Baxendale

Most well known for opening Niche with his eldest son and first born Stephen, he was dubbed as the ‘the legendary godfather of bassline,’ for introducing the underground style of music to the steel city.

What started out as a small backstreet club in Sheffield in 1991 went on to become one of the most legendary all night dance music venues in the world.

Steve Baxendale

A Niche album, under the Ministry of Sound label, sold in excess of 100,000 copies when it was released in 2008 as the popularity of the music soared,

At the height of Niche’s success, Steve opened a ‘superclub’ on Charter Row but the packed out venue proved so popular an overspill club was created on the opposite side of the road.

In 2010, Niche went ‘on tour’ and hosted events across the country for the next few years to take the brand to cities up and down the country.

Six years later, Steve brought Niche back to its birthplace, opening up in the arches of the old Wicker railway bridge on Walker Street.

Steve, who was born in Sheffield and brought up in Woodhouse, owned a number of other clubs in Sheffield and surrounding cities over the years, including Rebels, Nemos, Goodfellas, Twilite, Capitol, Vibe and Tank.

But the self-made businessman’s rise to nightclub success did not come easy and he started his working life as a grave digger, before working on the doors of pubs and clubs as a bouncer in the early years. He was also a bare knuckle boxing and arm wrestling champion.

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The first nightspot he opened was Rebels Rock club, which he ran alongside his Impact Fitness boxing gym.

As his success grew he spent time living abroad in Thailand and Spain and during his time in the Spanish resort of Benalmadena he branched out and opened a Niche off-shoot club, with dance nights held all over Spain, Ibiza, Dubai and Malia and other party towns around the world.

He also opened a beachfront restaurant and ran a music label in India to introduce bassline to Asia.

Recalling her memories of her dad, 24-year-old Francesca, who lives in Dubai, revealed a softer side to his nightclub persona.

“He loved motorbikes and had a passion for shooting. He would go shooting in many different places along with his Harris Hawk called Zara, who he loved spending time with, his two ferrets and his hunting dog, Tyson,” she said.

“He loved animals and wildlife and built a wildlife room with squirrels and other woodland creatures in one of his stables with CCTV cameras so he could sit and watch them in a natural habitat. At one point he had around 50 animals - mainly birds - including his three Military macaw parrots and peacock.”

She added: “He was a keen builder and even built parts of his home, and he was always at the nightclubs in the week up a ladder fixing something.

“The main thing about our dad that we will always remember is that at work he had to be tough with being in the nightclub industry, but at home he was a loving father who was there for his children and taught us how to be tough, work hard and deal with whatever life can throw at you, and he was a friend to many.

“In his 67 years, he lived a fulfilled life and did more than most will ever do, and that gives us peace knowing he lived life to the maximum and his children will forever look up to him and his achievements and be proud.

“we have been inundated with messages of sympathy with our dad described as legendary, a great friend and someone who brought so much to Sheffield.”

Steve’s success was marred by the murder of his brother Michael Baxendale, who was stabbed to death outside Niche in Sydney Street in 1998, in an attack in which two bouncers were also knifed.

The death came at a time when club owners had to contend with gangs and drug dealers fighting over turf and at one point South Yorkshire Police sent 300 officers to raid Niche in a crackdown on

drugs, prompting Steve to take legal action against the force.

Steve’s children have asked for anyone with memories, videos and photographs of their dad to be emailed to rememberingstevebaxendale@gmail.com to be shared with his grandchildren and future generations.