It was opened in 1932 as the Gaumont Palace cinema, Hammersmith and seated over 3,500 people. In 1962 the building was re-named the Hammersmith Odeon, a name many people still use for the venue along with the phonetic abbreviation "Hammy-O". The venue was later refurbished and re-named the Labatt's Apollo following a sponsorship deal. Musical Theatre Star Michael Ball was the last person to play Hammersmith when it was named 'Odeon' and the first person to play following its renaming as the 'Apollo', both during his 1993 sell out tour.
Later, it was again re-named The Hammersmith Apollo, and played host to a number of stage productions, notably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Doctor Dolittle, both starring Phillip Schofield. In 2002 the venue was again re-named, this time to the Carling Apollo after another brewery struck a deal with the owners, US-based Clear Channel Entertainment (spun off as Live Nation (Venues) UK Ltd in 2005).
In 2006, the venue reverted to its former name, and is currently known as the Hammersmith Apollo. Around this time the stalls seats were made removable and now some concerts have full seating whilst others have standing only in the stalls (i.e. no seats). In the latter format the Apollo can accommodate about 5000 people.
In 2007 the pipe organ, still present from the building's days as a cinema, was restored. The building then changed hands and was bought by the MAMA Group.
The building was designed by Robert Cromie in the Art Deco style. It became a Grade II listed building in 1990 upgraded to Grade II* status in 2005.
It is as the Hammersmith Odeon that the venue is best known internationally, especially since Motörhead's 1981 live album No Sleep 'til Hammersmith (ironically, the album wasn't recorded there).
Many stars have performed at the Hammersmith Odeon, including Uriah Heep, Alice Cooper, Googoosh, Judas Priest, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Europe, Radiohead, Kate Bush, Blondie, Mott the Hoople,Queen, Tori Amos, Bryan Adams, Saxon, Bob Dylan, The Cult, The Tubes, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, The Cure, Talk Talk, Tool, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, In Flames, Celtic Frost, Elton John, Black Sabbath, Alexander_O'Neal, Blue Öyster Cult, Soft Cell, Prince, Wishbone Ash, Van Halen, Whitesnake, Iggy and the Stooges, Status Quo, Elkie Brooks, Metallica, Marillion, The Who, Nuclear Assault, Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow, 30 Seconds to Mars, Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, Deep Purple, Squeeze, The Stranglers, Rush, Nelly Furtado, Genesis, Dire Straits (who filmed a 1983 live concert there, released as Alchemy), Oasis, Babyshambles, Venom, ABC, Nik Kershaw, Dream Theater, Duran Duran and most recently Trivium supported by Annihilator, Sanctity and Gojira, The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. The venue was also part of the 2004 "Carling Live 24" event, which saw Feeder play their only date of that year,Sex pistols
Photographs of The Who outside the Hammersmith Odeon appear on their 1973 album Quadrophenia.
At the start of the seminal Public Enemy album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back they are heard addressing the Hammersmith Odeon crowd
David Bowie performed his final concert as Ziggy Stardust at the venue in July 1973. Bruce Springsteen's performances there in 1975 are also well known, as is Neil Young's performance there in the same year, when part of the venue caught fire. Johnny Cash performed at the venue in 1966. In late 1964 and early 1965 the Beatles played 38 shows over 21 nights. Special guests on the bill included the original Yardbirds featuring Eric Clapton. Also, Frank Zappa recorded parts of his 1979 album, Sheik Yerbouti, at the venue.
Randy Rhoads performed one of his first shows with new musical soulmate Ozzy Osbourne on the Blizzard of Ozz tour in 1980.
Venom accidentally burned Hammersmith's ceiling during performance, which event can be clearly seen in the 7 dates of hell concert video (during Countess Bathory). As a result, Venom was banned from Hammersmith for a year.
Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour performed three sold out shows at this venue on his 1984 About Face solo tour which was documented on the concert video David Gilmour Live 1984.
Queen played several concerts at the Hammersmith, including their Christmas concerts in 1975 and 1979. In fact, the Hammersmith Odeon hosted the 4-night Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, a benefit concert to raise money for Cambodian residents who were victims of the tyrannical reign of dictator Pol Pot of which Queen played the first night.
Many bands have released live CDs or DVDs of concerts held at the Apollo, such as the Kings of Leon, the pop stars Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Robbie Williams. Kylie Minogue and Girls Aloud released DVDs of their concerts at the Apollo in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and a DVD of a Bruce Springsteen concert held there in 1975 was released as part of the Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition package; later the CD Hammersmith Odeon London '75 was released. Melodic death metal band In Flames also released a DVD that featured footage of a December 2004 performance there. Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard's show Glorious was also released as a DVD. Rush recorded their 1978 performance and later included it in their three-disc set, Different Stages. American musician Tori Amos released a series of six live albums in 2005 known as The Original Bootlegs, one of which was recorded at the Apollo.
Bob Marley and the Wailers performed at the "Hammy-O" in 1976, part of the Rastaman Vibration Tour. Anohter Caribbean superstar, soca artist, Machel Montano performed at the "Hammy-O" in his Rezarrek World Tour in 2007.
The Hammersmith Apollo is seen in the American romantic comedy film Just My Luck where McFly perform in which, in the movie, is the Hard Rock Cafe. It is also the location in The Football Factory where the Chelsea fans board the bus for Liverpool away.