It’s a fact: London has inspired some of the best music ever written (editor’s note: opinions are not facts).
And because the sounds are indelibly mixed up with the sights, it’s the perfect excuse for a spiritual, historical, magical mystery tour of music in London...
A pilgrimage, in other words.
The Beatles may have formed in Liverpool, but they made most of their music in London. Abbey Road, to be precise.
So go to the Abbey Road zebra crossing and re-enact the famous album cover. You won’t be the first to do it though; it’s the 5th most popular photo spot in London. Fans love it so much, that Abbey Road street signs used to be stolen on a regular basis. Exciting times.
Whilst you’re there, it’d be a shame not to visit Abbey Road Studios. Pink Floyd, Elton John and Adele have recorded albums here.
And if you’re a big Fab Four fan, there are a number of Beatles London walking tours.
David Bowie was one of the World’s most influential musicians. He was also a Londoner. There are plenty of places where you can walk in his footsteps, but the best known has to be 23 Heddon Street. It’s the site of The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars album cover.
The Sex Pistols
You might love them, you might hate them, but you can’t deny that they had a lot to say. (Editor’s note: I deny that they had a lot to say).
They were anti-establishment, anti-monarchy and anti-everything else. Listen to God Save the Queen – it was banned by the BBC.
430 Kings Road is where it all began. In the 70’s, it was a shop called ‘Sex’.
An angry young man was often to be found here, hanging around the jukebox. His name was John Lydon, and he wore an ‘I hate Pink Floyd’ T-shirt.
The shop owner was impressed by his rude attitude and invited him to audition for his band. His voice – so bad it was perfect – got him the job as lead singer of the Sex Pistols – a band that continues to shock every grandmother in the UK.
It’s difficult to know where to start with Amy Winehouse – London is filled with pilgrimage places for the singer.
Visit her memorial statue at the Stables Market in Camden. This is the closest you’ll get to a selfie with the legend.
You can also go to the Hawley Arms, one of Winehouse’s favourite pubs. It burned down in 2008 but has since been reconstructed – head there for secret gigs and a great atmosphere. It’s a great spot for music in London.
33 Portland Place is an important address. You might recognise it from The King’s Speech, but it was also where Amy filmed the video for Rehab. It’s worth a visit in its own right, it being one of the most beautiful mansions in London.
Superfans will appreciate the Amy Winehouse exhibition at the Jewish Museum. It’s open until 24 September 2017. On a sunny day, you can join the Amy Street Art Trail. If you don’t have time to take part before 4 June, download this handy map and do it yourself.
Pink Floyd were something special. So much so that the V&A museum is running a Pink Floyd exhibition until 1 October 2017.
You can also go to the Battersea Power Station to see where the Animals album cover was shot. Fun fact: this album was vaguely based on the novel Animal Farm – it shared the same anti-capitalism theme.
Pink Floyd released ‘Animals,’ one of our 50 greatest prog rock albums of all time, 40 years ago today. Roger Waters’ third consecutive concept album was loosely based on George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ as a scathing commentary on the capitalist oppression in contemporary England. This record was the first album the band recorded in its own studio. For all things Pink Floyd, head to RollingStone.com.
He’s not a Londoner, but England’s capital is where the World’s best guitarist came to make it big. (Editor’s note: Peter Green in 69/70. Just saying.)
The first time Hendrix performed music in London was at The Bag O’Nails, a music club in Soho. It was popular with The Who, Tom Jones and The Animals, and it was where Paul and Linda McCartney met in 1967. These days, it’s a private members club.
Brook Street is an important address for music in London. Jimi Hendrix lived at number 23, and George Frideric Handel lived at number 25. Both buildings have since been interconnected to create the Handel & Hendrix museum. Hendrix’s room is now exactly how it used to be and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a music event in the flat itself.
Have a go yourself…
During the 60’s and 70’s, singers including Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Paul Simon performed at The Spice of Life. Why not take part in an open-mic night at open-mic night on a Monday evening?
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