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Songs of the South - Southern Britain’s Best Music Locations

With rolling hills, quant villages and miles of stunning beaches, it’s easy to see why the South of England has been romanticised by artists and immortalised in music videos.

Without further ado, here’s our music lover’s guide to the South of England’s famous music sites.

The first big festival – Isle of Wight

If you’ve ever been to a music festival in the UK, you have the Isle of Wight Festival of 1970 to thank for it. The festival of ’70 was the biggest that the world had ever seen. With the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and The Who performing to over 600,000 music fans from across the world.

What happened next was music history; the founders of Glastonbury, Windsor and Stonehenge festivals were all in attendance and the seeds were sown for the UK festival scene.

Bit of a Blur - The East Anglian Railway Museum

A museum showcasing the history and preservation of the Eastern Counties’ rail network may not sound very rock and roll, but it was here in 1988 that seminal Britpop heroes Blur played their first gig to 150 people in a goods shed!

The group played again in 2009 to celebrate their reformation, and the venue was also commemorated with a heritage plaque the same year.

The Dark Side of Cambridgeshire – Pink Floyd’s Division Bell

The image was captured just outside of Ely in Cambridgeshire and the area where the shot was taken, a field just outside of the city with the stunning Cathedral in the distance, is a beautiful place to explore.

A recreation of the cover would be difficult as the heads weighed over 1500kg each but perhaps you could strike a pose with a friend for a funnier (and more practical) approach!

Oxford’s Musical Milestone – The Jericho Tavern

Oxford’s Jericho Tavern may look fairly non-descript, but it is here that many of Oxford’s musical heroes made their mark. Radiohead played their first gig here in 1986 (under the name On a Friday – later returning in 1991 under their more familiar moniker), Supergrass were signed after performing in 1994 and Pulp, The XX, Mumford and Sons and more have all since graced the stage.

Live music is still showcased at The Jericho, so who knows which stars of tomorrow you might see?

Turn it up to 11 – Spinal Tap at Stonehenge

One of cult mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap’s most famous scenes featured the band recreating Stonehenge on stage in a hilariously small scale. Interestingly, the guys behind Spinal Tap didn’t pluck the idea for this gag out of thin air. The joke is based on Black Sabbath’s 1983 Born Again tour. Sabbath spent £40,000 on life size replicas of the stones to be used on stage but they were so big, venues couldn’t accommodate them!

Historians are also debating whether Stonehenge could have been an ancient festival site, which would mean it beat modern festivals by up to 5000 years!

Hello, Knebworth! – Hertfordshire

The Knebworth Estate is Britain’s largest music venue and has hosted some of rock’s most legendary performances. Freddie Mercury’s last gig with Queen in 1986, Oasis and Robbie Williams’ one-upmanship from the late 90s, Led Zeppelin in ‘79, the Rolling Stones in ’76 and basically the best.gig.ever at the legendary Knebworth 1990.

Explore the open house and gardens and walk over the hallowed turf of this musical institution.

It was all yellooooow – Coldplay in Dorset

Studland Bay was the video location for Coldplay’s first UK top 5 hit, Yellow. The video was originally supposed to include the whole band but sadly drummer Will Champion’s mother died days before the shoot, meaning Chris Martin was filmed alone.

Coldplay fans and non-fans alike will love Studland Bay, which is famous for its beautiful beaches (though we’d say the sands are more golden, ourselves) and nature reserve.

More Coldplay, Surrey

Coldplay enthusiasts could also visit Bourne Woods in Surrey, the location of the award winning video for The Scientist. If you’ve seen it then you’ll know that it employs a narrative whereby the plot is revealed in reverse order – aside from Chris Martin’s vocals.

To achieve this Chris actually spent a month learning to sing the song backwards! The video won three MTV awards for its ground-breaking style and narrowly missed out on a Grammy for Best Music Video (which went to Johnny Cash for the heart-breaking Hurt).

Oasis on the beach – The Gallaghers Roll with It

This Oasis song was thrust into the headlines when it was pitted against Blur’s Country House in a war for the number one spot. Oasis came second, but you can come and pay your respects to the casualties of this Britpop battle by setting up a deckchair on the beach at Weston-super-Mare (TV sets and Paddington coats optional!).

This location was chosen due to its close proximity to Glastonbury, where the band played that weekend.