London Calling – Ten Rock N Roll Must See’s for Classic Rock and Music Junkies
Ten Rock N Roll Must See’s for Classic Rock and Music Junkies in London
From iconic landmarks to low key rockstar hangouts, these are the must-see rock n roll hot spots for music lovers exploring the UK capital.
The site of the iconic Beatles album cover that was shot in August 1969. This street crossing in St. Johns Wood of North West London has inspired an endless line of visiting fans and photo recreations. After you walk in the footsteps of the four legends, visit the nearby Abbey Road Studios, which has seen its fair share of rock n roll landmarks and been the site of the creation of many classics. While you can’t enter the studio its self, the gift shop holds some great memorabilia and instruments of some of the greats who have been there before.
23 Heddon Street
Of course, there are endless Bowie landmarks throughout London for the diehard fans to visit, but for those just looking for a little taste this is a great place to start. This address appears on the cover of David Bowies The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars shot in January of 1972. This spot has become a shrine to the music sensation since his passing in 2016, and is certainly worth stopping by.
Located near the West End, mod fashion boutiques and music venues made this street a hotspot in the 1960’s. This street is the home of renowned fashion designers who were ahead of their time, such as Mary Quant, as well as several underground music bars like the infamous Marquee Club. This street was the pulse of mod movements, attracting artists like The Who, Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and The Yardbirds to hangout in the area. Today, you can pop into guitar, music, and clothing shops old and new to enjoy a little bit of what the legends who frequented the street once experienced.
Better known as Tin Pan Alley, this street is an absolute treasure and one of the best spots in Europe for people with a heart for rock n roll. It is on this street in hidden basement studios that many classics were recorded, by legends such as The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Where Elton John wrote Your Song while sitting on a rooftop. Where it is said that David Bowie lived on the streets in a van for a spell. Where The Rolling Stones recorded their first album in what is now a music specialist book shop and where Bob Marley bought his very first guitar. This small street is littered with traces of music history and is without a doubt a place to go to feel some of the magic that was made there by legends of the past.
Honest Jon’s and Phonica Records
Flip through famous blues jazz and folk records at Honest Jon’s or get a touch of the old and new at Phonica Records. Honest Jon’s, a buzzing Notting Hill record store, has an amazing collection of the greats as well as its own record label. Not to mention, it is situated in one of West London’s most creative and unique streets, Portabello Road. Then there is Soho’s Phonica, another one of London’s famous record shops, known for its collection of house and electronica records. Today, visitors can record a message straight to vinyl on one of the two remaining operating Voice-O-Graphs in the world being held by the shop. These shops are excellent places to go if you are looking to add to your collection and feed into a vinyl obsession.
Having hosted the recording sessions of countless artists from The Beatles, Bowie and The Stones, to Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys, this studio in Barnes is outstanding. After its closing in 2009, it has been reopened in 2013 as a cinema and café for folks to visit and hangout where the rock stars once did.
The 100 Club
On busy Oxford Street, this historic venue has been open since 1942 when it hosted jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong. Moving into the 70’s it was a hub of the punk scene with groups such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash making regular appearances. In ’82 the Rolling Stones played a secret show at the club, causing many to follow suit. Even today, there are many big names that continue to play low key gigs at this time-honored club.
Hard Rock Café
May seem cliché, but if there was ever a time to go full on tourist this is it. Located in Regent Park this was the first ever Hard Rock Cafe which opened in 1971. Today it stands as a mini museum, filled wall to wall, including an underground vault, with memorabilia given by stars such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton. In fact, it was Clapton who donated the first piece to the chains collection, his Lead II Fender guitar. There are regularly rock star and celebrity sightings at the Hard Rock, but even if you miss bumping into one of the greats, the excellent food, drink, and classic rock keepsakes hanging on the walls will keep you company.
34 Montagu Square
This house in Marylebone is another shrine for music lovers. This address marks what was originally the home of Ringo Starr, and became the first home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The couples nude cover, “Two Virgins” was shot in the basement, where fellow band mate Paul McCartney also recorded a demo of the song Eleanor Rigby in a temporary studio. Later, Ringo rented the house to fellow legend Jimi Hendrix who in true rockstar fashion trashed the place, causing Starr to throw him out. While you cannot enter the home, passing by the outside is certainly an option.
430 Kings Road
This Chelsea Boutique was once run by Malcom Maclaren and Vivienne Westwood, where they pioneered the punk aesthetic. Originally called Let It Rock, the shop was later renamed Sex in 1974, and for good reason. Many of the shop regulars and workers went on the form the iconic band The Sex Pistols. Some of the workers included band members Glen Matlock and Sid Vicious.
There are countless iconic landmarks, venues, shops, and bars to visit in the UK capital to get in touch with your inner rockstar, but this list highlights some of my favorites. Is there anything essential I left off the list? Leave a comment with some of your favorite rock spots in London.