The Best Rock and Roll Sites of London
Please join us in welcoming William Mullins and Leslie Banker to The Window Seat. They are the co-authors of Britannia in Brief: The Scoop on All Things British and their guest blog reveals the top rock sites in London.
When you marry a Londoner who loves music as much as he loves his native city, excursions around the city follow a different narrative than the usual guidebooks. That’s how I know that Notting Hill was the neighborhood where Jimi Hendrix finally kissed the sky and where the riots occurred that inspired the song “White Riot” by the Clash. We were in London last spring doing research for our book, Britannia in Brief, and as we walked for miles William noted a few of his favorite music destinations in the city.
Soho, in the West End, has long been the heart of hip London, its salubrious characters celebrated in songs as divergent as “Mack the Knife” and the Kinks’ “Lola”. The Marquee Club–which used to be at 90 Wardour Street–was perhaps the most famous club in Britain. Jimi Hendrix held a Sunday residency there and the Rolling Stones played their first-ever gig at the club’s original 165 Oxford Street location.
In the 70s the Marquee Club and the still extant 100 Club at 100 Oxford Street were the ground zero of punk. Nearby, at 47 Frith Street is the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Suffice to say that Wes Montgomery, Nina Simone, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, and Chet Baker are among those who have released albums titled Live at Ronnie Scott’s.
Besides being the place to go for bespoke men’s tailoring, Savile Row in posh Mayfair is a critical stop on the Beatles pilgrimage. The Beatles played their famous “Rooftop Concert”–their last live appearance–January 30, 1969 on top of 3 Savile Row where their Apple Corps office was based.
Primrose Hill in north London offers one of the best views across the city and has inspired songs by everyone from the Beatles to Madness, as well as being name checked in tracks by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blur, and Fatboy Slim among many others. The famous, hazy early morning photo of the Rolling Stones that appeared on the cover of their Between the Buttons album was shot up here. Madness, Oasis, and others have also used it as a backdrop for covers. The surrounding neighborhood has lots of charming shops and restaurants, making a trip to the hill even more worthwhile.
For more information, Enjoy England, the government tourist board, has a map of rock sites throughout England.
Leslie Banker is co-author of The Pocket Decorator and The Pocket Renovator. She has written freelance articles for Interior Design magazine, Edible Rhody, and a regular column for Realtor Magazine On-Line. William Mullins is a financial software developer and has written freelance pieces for salon.com and The Boston Book Review. Read more at their website: Britannia in Brief.
From time to time, the Window Seat publishes articles and blog posts written by guest authors to give you a fresh perspective on the world of travel.