The music lover’s guide to London
London’s been calling rock and roll stars for decades. From The Clash and the Sex Pistols, to Queen, Amy Winehouse, and Blur – right up to its thriving music scene today, London has been home and muse, to some of the world’s biggest acts. Its streets are packed with lyrical heritage, from the former homes of rock and roll legends, to the venues they played in and the pubs they partied in. Whether you take a Bowie walking tour, visit the Beatles’ famous Abbey Road studios, or relax in one of the many hotels and pubs with rock and roll heritage, London will be singing to your tune.
A capital of music
The Jam ‘Went down in the Tube Station at Midnight’, The Clash heard ‘London Calling’, the Pet Shop Boys sang about ‘West End Girls’ and Adele of ‘Hometown Glory’ - London has inspired songwriters through the decades. It’s also been the birthplace of everyone from the Sex Pistols to Dizzee Rascal, Madness to Stormzy. Whatever your musical taste, you’ll find it covered in London – from pop stars performing in one of the city’s famous stadiums, to up-and-coming acts in its thriving small music venues.
Recreate an iconic album cover
They’re the streets with album names – recreate iconic album covers shot around the capital, such as David Bowie’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars on 23 Heddon St, now a place of pilgrimage for Bowie fans. Not far away, you’ll find Berwick Street, which provided the backdrop for Oasis’ seminal album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory. The Clash shot their self-titled debut album in Stables Market, Camden, and you can’t come to Britain’s capital without recreating The Beatles’ legendary Abbey Road album cover.
Go on a rock pilgrimage
Want to follow in the footsteps of your favourite band? Take a London Rock Tour and retrace the journeys of everyone from The Rolling Stones to Queen, the Beatles to The Clash. David Bowie fans can visit the legend’s landmarks with the David Bowie walking tour. You can take the Rock ’n’ Roll Camden walking tour around the borough that inspired artists such as Amy Winehouse and Pink Floyd, or go time-travelling on the Swinging ’60s bus tour, which transports you back to the music-defining decade.
Spot the music landmarks
London has around 1000 blue plaques marking significant historic locations – discover the music ones - and plan a stroll that takes in the former homes of John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. Take a walk down Soho’s historic Denmark Street – affectionately known as Tin Pan Alley. Visit Mayfair’s Handel & Hendrix Museum, where you’ll learn about the lives of two very different musicians who lived at this address centuries apart. And behind the Savoy hotel, spot the alley Bob Dylan filmed his iconic ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ video – one of the first music videos.
Visit a record shop
London is a mecca for vinyl lovers. Flip through the albums at Rough Trade near Portobello Road and at the Old Truman Brewery, off Brick Lane, or visit Reckless Records in Berwick St, Soho, which has been selling second-hand records since 1984. Flashback Records has three stores across London – Shoreditch, Islington and Crouch End – bursting with second-hand vinyl. And if you’re in London for Record Store Day (in April each year) you can catch a huge range of free gigs at independent record shops.
Stay with the legends
Check in to a rock and roll hotel at one of the many locations with musical heritage. The Hard Rock Hotel, on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane, is on the site of a hotel whose former residents included Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. Chateau Denmark is on the street where the Sex Pistols lived and The Rolling Stones recorded and Notting Hill’s bohemian The Portobello Hotel has hosted everyone from Alice Cooper to Oasis. Have a drink at Hotel Café Royal’s Ziggy’s bar – where David Bowie held a last supper for his alter ego Ziggy Stardust, with Mick Jagger and Lou Reed.
Raise a toast to rock and roll
Take a pub crawl in honour of your favourite musician and see the venues where they performed and hung out. The Dublin Castle in Camden, hosted The Killers, Blur and Amy Winehouse. The Camden Assembly, (formerly known as The Barfly), is where Oasis, Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand crafted their art and The Good Mixer in Camden is where the Blur/Oasis rivalry is meant to have begun. In Earl’s Court, The Troubadour is a historic music venue where Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix played, while in Islington, The Hope & Anchor played host to bands such as The Ramones, The Police and The Stranglers.