by Amanda Rodrigues, Show and Stay
From music landmarks to rock star hangouts, join us as we explore the rock ‘n’ roll hotspots in the UK capital, the must-see sites for any music lover on a London hotel break.
Recreate the iconic Beatles album cover at this crossing in St John’s Wood, North West London, where the Fab Four photographed the legendary image in August 1969. The unique picture sparked peculiar conspiracy theories that Paul McCartneyhad died three years earlier, and that the picture was a representation of his funeral.
This shopping street in Soho is the home of mod fashion, and was one of the hippest hotspots during the swinging sixties. Home to notable fashion designers like Mary Quant, as well as underground music bars such as the nearby Marquee Club, the street was a mod Mecca, attracting appearances from bands like The Who and The Rolling Stones. The chic street is situated close to the West End, so why not stop by on your next theatre break in the capital?
Better known as Tin Pan Alley, this street is one of the best in Europe for music connoisseurs. Home to numerous music specialists, studios and publishers, it has played host to The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, both of whom recorded in basement studios here. Elton John wrote Your Song while on the rooftops, and David Bowie is said to have lived in a camper van on the street for a time. Bob Marley bought his first guitar here, and The Rolling Stones recorded their first album at Regent Sounds Studio, now a specialist music bookshop.
Berwick Street W1
Made famous by Britpop behemoths Oasis on the cover of their 1995 album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? this street was a top destination for nineties music lovers, lined with popular record shops. Some of these still remain, including Revival Records and Sister Ray, where you can pick up some rare rock LPs for your turntable.
The Hundred Club
Situated on busy Oxford Street, this seminal venue has been going strong since 1942 when it played host to top jazz acts including Louis Armstrong. During the seventies, it was an integral part of the UK punk scene, with the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash playing regularly. The Rolling Stones performed a secret show here in 1982, and to this day many big name bands will play low-key gigs here.
430 Kings Road
This Chelsea boutique was once run by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, where they pioneered the punk aesthetic and formed The Sex Pistols from a group of shop regulars. Originally called Let It Rock, but renamed Sex in 1974, a number of Pistols band members worked there, including Glen Matlock and Sid Vicious.
Catch a Waterloo sunset from this Thames bridge and relive The Kinks‘ 1967 London anthem, in which a London couple meet and watch the sun go down over the city. With beautiful views of the river and city skyline, it’s a perfect vantage point for a city sunset, and there are lots of bars and cafes on nearby Southbank where you can enjoy an early evening drink.
This south west London grassland is a place of pilgrimage for glam rock fans, as it’s the site where Marc Bolan was killed in 1977 when Gloria Jones’ Mini GT skidded off the road and into a tree on the way home from a London nightclub. A rock shrine has been installed there, including a bronze bust of Bolan himself and a commemorative stone covered with personal messages from fans.
The Hope & Anchor
Another important punk and pub rock venue is situated on Upper Street in the heart of Islington. All the big punk bands played there in the late seventies, and the pub played host to Ian Dury’s first band, as well as The Stranglers, who recorded an album there. In 1998, UK beige-pop band Keane made their debut, and the pub still presents live music six days a week, making it a great choice of drinking establishment for music lovers.
304 Holloway Road
Head to North London to the site of Joe Meek‘s home studio, once located above a leather goods store on this busy road. Meek recorded hundreds of songs here, some of which are considered to be the most advanced recordings of the time, including Johnny Remember Me and Have I The Right? In 1967, Meek also killed his landlady, subsequently committing suicide with a shotgun on this site, which is the subject of 2008 film Telstar: The Joe Meek Story.
This post was written and provided by Amanda Rodrigues of Show & Stay, the London weekend theatre break specialist.