The father behind the entrepreneur: How Blues musician Otis Grand inspired the ‘King of London Nightlife’ Ryan Bishti 

‘[My father] would come home from some far-away gig just as we were getting ready for school… that left quite an embedded image in my brain. So I now have a 9 to 5 job…. Except its 9 pm to 5 am’ – Ryan Bishti 

Ryan Bishti the ‘King of London Nightlife’ is best known for owning a whole host of famous venues such as Cirque le Soir, The Windmill, and The London Reign Showclub. For an exclusive night that always offers something innovative and exciting, Ryan Bishti is the man of the moment. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians, Kendall Jenner, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Bella Hadid, have all frequented his venues. He’s passionate about delivering immersive entertainment that offers something unique to his guests, wanting his venues to stand out from the crowd and bring something new to the hospitality industry.  

However, Ryan Bishti himself remains a man with an undiscovered past. Unknown to most, his father was the successful blues musician Otis Grand. Grand had a huge impact on Bishti’s life, developing a love for the entertainment industry from a very young age. Bishti grew up in a house surrounded by music which eventually inspired him to pursue a career in the nightlife industry himself.  

The career of Otis Grand 

Born in Beirut and raised in the United States, Otis Grand started his blues career from an early age playing in Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland, California. Early influences on his musical career included B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, and Otis Rush. His debut album Always Hot was released in 1988 and by the late 1980s, Grand and his Dance Kings became a popular nightclub act based in the UK, which is where Bishti was born and raised.  

(Source: Amazon Music) 

For seven years Otis Grand was voted ‘Best UK Blues Guitarist’ and he starred in the famous My Way or the High Way album. During his career, he also played alongside Muddy Water, Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, John Lee HOOKER, James Brown, and Buddy Guy. It’s safe to say that Grand had a long-standing, successful career that made a huge impact on his son, Ryan Bishti.  

Following in his father’s footsteps 

‘There was always music playing on the record player in the house’ – Ryan Bishti  

 Ryan Bishti is certain that his father played a significant role in inspiring his current career as the owner of dozens of lucrative bars and clubs. ‘I believe my father is responsible for my love for nightlife… he’d come home from some far-away gig just as we were getting ready for school… that left quite an embedded image in my brain’, Bishti explains.  

However, it wasn’t the music aspect of his career that sparked Bishti’s intrigue. Despite his father passionately outlining each musical instrument and how it should be played, Bishti admits that regrettably, he didn’t want to learn to play any instrument, and instead he was  ‘only interested in the business end of entertainment’. Despite his ambivalence as a child, Bishti does now listen to Blues music and knows many of the main people behind it. I asked if this affects the music he plays in his venues today and he replies, ‘The more digital music that is popular today, that we play in some of our clubs, is a far cry from that, but still a force to be reckoned with’.  

‘He’s been to my club twice only and that’s the check out the organisation’ – Ryan Bishti 

Unfortunately, his father does not love the music played at The London Reign or Cirque le Soir, ‘my father has a visceral hatred for current music’, Bishti explains, ‘he can’t tolerate the simplistic ineptitude of it all’. So we can’t expect to see Otis Grand at his venues anytime soon – ‘he’s been to my club twice only and that’s the check out the organisation’.  

I finally asked Bishti if his father passed down any words of wisdom about the industry, ‘yes’, he replied with enthusiasm, ‘His firm advice was: Be very wary and careful… this business is full of vermin, snakes, and thieves. And he’s right’.  

By Sophie Beaven  

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