From the Beatles leading the pop and rock revolution to the Madchester music scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s, to the fresh and diverse sounds still being created by UK bands today, we think it’s time to celebrate our rich musical history!
We invite you to join us on a Beatles-esque Musical Mystery Tour, taking in sights that are synonymous with great bands; from legendary gigs to great album covers and everything in-between.
Where better to kick us off than the birthplace of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Blur and Coldplay. With so much great music coming out of the capital it’s no surprise that there are tonnes of famous spots to visit.
Here is a selection of our favourites, so grab your underground ticket and get going:
Any self-respecting musical tour of the UK surely has to start with The Fab Four. As one of the most easily recognisable album covers of all time (and probably one of the most recreated), The Beatles’ Abbey Road album featured John, Paul, Ringo and George crossing the road just around the corner from the Abbey Road Studios where they recorded some of their biggest hits (including Love Me Do and All You Need Is Love).
There’s plenty more for Beatles fans to see in London though! Head to Cavendish Avenue to see where Sir Paul still lives, and has done since the 1960s, (he may even say hello and is apparently very approachable!) or check out Regent Street in Mayfair to see where The Beatles filmed their improvised open air concert to conclude their film, Let It Be.
Not far from Abbey Road was the scene for another famous album cover which is well worth a visit for any David Bowie fans. Heddon Street is where the musical maestro posed for the cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (or Ziggy Stardust for short). Don your makeup and strike your best Ziggy pose for a proper recreation of this iconic album cover. Look out for the black plaque commemorating the spot just off Regent Street (where the fabric for Ziggy’s iconic outfits was obtained).
Take a break from recreating album covers and instead put on a waistcoat and film your very own music video. The Savoy Hotel was the site for Bob Dylan’s famous Subterranean Homesick Blues, one of the first music videos ever made. The song was inspired by Dylan’s love of the Beat generation and Allen Ginsberg featured in the video (and also helped write the cue cards). The song was so inspirational to John Lennon who thought he would never be able to write a better one.
As well as the famous alley video, two more promos were created, one on the roof of The Savoy and the other in Embankment Gardens Park opposite the hotel.
To get the full Oasis experience, take a trip to Berwick Street in Soho which you might recognise as the album cover of What’s the Story Morning Glory. During the 90s the street was a music haven – hence the choice of location. Songbird was the first track Oasis released that was written by Liam Gallagher, and it proved to the world that Oasis weren’t a one man band. The video was filmed in Hyde Park and features Liam playing guitar under a tree, chasing a dog and an appearance by his fiancée at the time, Nicole Appleton (to whom we can assume the song is dedicated).
Visit 23 Brook Street, the former flat of the greatest guitarist to have ever lived. Jimi Hendrix moved to London in 1966 before establishing himself as a worldwide superstar. He once said of this flat that it was the only home he ever had. Coincidentally the home is also shared by a former musical superstar (albeit it a few hundred years before). George Frideric Handel lived next door in 1723. On learning of this musical connection, Hendrix purchased some of the former resident’s music and some experts claim to be able to detect Handel’s riffs in Hendrix’s later work. You can now explore both residences and even book guitar lessons!
London’s music scene is still booming and there’s nothing better than experiencing it first-hand. With live gigs taking place every night in some fantastic venues, be sure to check out what’s going on while you’re there. Try Koko on Camden High Street, previously known as The Music Machine and Camden Palace Theatre. This was a venue that hosted The Police and The Clash early in their careers and it was also the venue where AC/DC’s Bon Scott was last seen drinking shortly before his death in 1980.
Since then it has hosted world famous acts from The Killers to Lady Gaga. You could also catch unsigned acts at smaller and more intimate venues such as Half Moon in Putney which saw early performances from The Stones and was the location of U2’s first sell-out gig. Or you could try what NME labelled as the coolest pub in the world, The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. Gigs there are usually free and past artists include The Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen.
Of course there’s plenty more to London and we can’t include it all here! With a little research you could put together your own tour of London to suit your music taste.
Pink Floyd fanatics could visit Battersea Power Station which featured on their album Animals and a must for Amy Winehouse fans is a pint at The Hawley Arms in Camden, her favourite haunt where she could still be found pulling pints at the bar after performing gigs in front of 50,000 people.