From Abbey Road to Penny Lane, Arctic Monkeys to Led Zeppelin, Land’s End to John O’Groats and from the Glastonbury Festival to T in the Park, Britain Rocks! Check out our top 10 music landmarks and find out about birthplaces and favourite hangouts of legendary rock stars, locations that inspired great music and featured on album covers, and great venues across the country.
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
Described by NME as ‘quite possibly the finest small venue in the world’ playing a gig at the three hundred capacity King Tut's has become a seminal point in the career of an impressive array of artists: Oasis (who were famously signed by Alan McGee at the venue in 1993) to Radiohead, The Killers, The verve, Pulp, My Chemical Romance, Biffy Clyro, Manic Street Preachers and Texas plus hundreds more in between.
The Mendip Hills
Mendips is the childhood home of John Lennon where he composed many of his early songs. The house evokes the time he spent here during his formative years. 20 Forthlin Road was the home of the McCartney family, where the Beatles met to rehearse and where they wrote many of their early songs, including 'Love Me Do' and 'I Saw Her Standing There'.
The National Trust operate combined tours to both properties, places are limited on each tour so advance booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.
Abbey Road, London
Abbey Road Studios is where the Beatles recorded many of their songs, including 'All You Need Is Love' and 'Love Me Do'. Further up the road is the famous pelican crossing where the Fab Four posed for the cover of Abbey Road. The nearest tube station is St John's Wood. To get there, turn right out of St John's Wood tube station and walk down Grove End Road. Turn right onto Abbey Road and the studios are on your left, it's about a five minute walk.
23 Heddon Street, London
Just off the bustle of Regent Street, in central London, is Heddon Street, where David Bowie posed for the cover of his Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album from 1972. It’s now a place of pilgrimage for fans of Bowie who travel from all over the world to recreate the cover on the same spot.
Spillers Records, Cardiff
Spillers is officially the oldest record shop in the world. They first opened in 1894 selling wax cylinders and gramophones, moved to the Hayes where they stayed for 60 or so years and now have a new shop in the Morgan Arcade. Spillers remains a favourite with record buyers and bands including the Manic Street Preachers.
Belfast Music Tour
Take the Belfast Music Tour and see the legendary Ulster Hall where Led Zeppelin first performed Stairway to Heaven, visit Van Morrison’s birthplace and Cyprus Avenue (the tree-lined street that features in many of his songs) and learn where punk classics like Alternative Ulster and Teenage Kicks were conceived.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Though it’s only been open since 2004, Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff has rapidly become an iconic landmark on the city’s skyline. Built from Welsh materials including slate and sustainable timber from Welsh forests, its coated metal exterior is punctured by windows that spell out ‘in these stones horizons sing’ in English and a Welsh verse meaning ‘creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration’. At night when the windows are lit from behind, the building looks spectacular. You can see everything here from musical theatre to rock gigs.
British Music Experience, London
British Music Experience (BME) at London’s 02 is the interactive attraction celebrating Britain's world-famous music industry. A combination of cutting edge audio-visual technology and coveted music memorabilia takes you on an unforgettable trip through pop. There are also infamous, irreplaceable pieces of British music memorabilia including David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes clown suit and Ziggy Stardust costume, Noel Gallagher’s Union Jack guitar, Roger Daltrey’s Woodstock outfit and a vintage Amy Winehouse dress.
Beatles Story, Liverpool
Discover the story of the Fab Four from their humble Liverpool beginnings to their world-conquering sixties success and their later solo careers. See John Lennon’s glasses, the only blue White Album, George Harrison’s first guitar and more. You’ll also experience Fab4D which takes you on a magical journey through the music of the Beatles via 3D animation and the music that helped them become the most famous group of all time.
Salford lads club, Manchester, England
Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Oasis, Elbow: all sons of Manchester (or just outside). Manchester has produced some of the UK’s most memorable popular music but perhaps no other artist continues to inspire such devoted loyalty as Morrissey and the band he led, the Smiths. And no Smiths pilgrimage would be complete without a visit to the Salford Lads Club, where the band were photographed for their 1986 album, The Queen Is Dead. Images via: DonkeyJacket45, Matthew Wilkinson, informatique