Here at Kore, we’ve spoken in depth about London’s amazing musical heritage. From the scenes spawned in the capital to the very best venues to catch a show, London’s music landmarks have a lot to offer to music aficionados from around the world. Whether you’re a punk, indie kid, metalhead or anything in between, there will almost certainly be something out there in the capital that really gets your inner music nerd going.
In this article, the Kore team want to speak directly to that music nerd that lives in in all of us. As music fanatics ourselves, we don’t want to just read about our favourite London musicians, we want to walk in their footsteps! We’ll be taking a look at the best spots in the city to really wallow in some musical heritage. From your favourite album covers to some more macabre landmarks, this is the pilgrim’s guide to London’s musical heritage.
Enter the covers
London is a truly iconic city. Think of the capital and Tower Bridge, red telephone boxes and fish and chips, all icons of Britain, are likely to spring to mind. What you might not realise is that a number of iconic album covers were shot in London that you can visit right now. Whether you consider yourself a bit of a John, Paul, George – or even a Ringo, we’re not ones to judge. Or, if you’d feel at home hanging out with Ziggy Stardust, you’ll be able to jump directly into the artwork of some of the most iconic British album. Time for a little London rock tour.
Interested in progressive psychedelic rock? Then your journey has to begin at Battersea Power Station. Though currently under redevelopment, the classic silhouette of the Victorian power station south of the river is unlike anything else. For fans of Pink Floyd, however, you’ll notice that Battersea is missing the large pink pig featured on the cover of the band’s 1977 album Animals. The pig might not be there anymore – in fact, it broke its tether mid-shoot and ended up flying all the way to Kent – but Battersea Power Station is still a must-see for any Pink Floyd fan.
There’s been a bit of remodelling since Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars descended onto the now bustling 23 Heddon Street, but visiting the spot is still a must for fans of David Bowie. The exact site of the spot where Bowie – or Ziggy – stood for the iconic cover of his 1972 album is now marked with a plaque so you know exactly where to pose for that true space-age musician look.
Berwick Street may look like just about any central London street to the untrained eye. Just off the shopping hub that is Oxford Street, Berwick Street is still a fairly hip area of Soho, with record shops and fashion retailers lining the road. Thanks to its particularly cool reputation in the 90s, it was here that Oasis shot the cover of their hugely successful 1995 album (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory. Much like Abbey Road, Berwick Street is the perfect place to get some friends together to re-enact your favourite album cover (just be aware of upsetting local cabbies).
Finally, and of course this needed mentioning, is the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios in St. John’s Wood. It’s probably London’s most famous music landmark and may be a tad touristy or a little too mainstream for a lot of visitors, but recreating the cover of 1969’s Abbey Road is certainly a right of passage for Beatles fans.
Drink where it all began
Once you’ve had your fill recreating your favourite album covers with your friends, it’s a good idea to head to a local pub and get a refreshing drink. Just remember, you’re in London, so even a quiet pint could lead you to a historic musical discovery. Here are the best pubs to drop into to uncover the foundations of some of the city’s favourite musicians.
The likes of The World’s End in Camden or The Crobar in Tottenham Court Road might initially seem to be the best pubs to send a group of headbangers, but a little boozer in Newham might actually be a better option. The Cart and Horses in Stratford is an old rock pub where none other than Iron Maiden began their career. Maiden even had a residence at the pub in 1976 and played their final gig at their local – featuring plenty of the pyrotechnics their famous for today – in April 1978.
For more general rock history, don’t miss a trip up to the Hope & Anchor in Islington. This pub has played host to a truly crazy amount of up-and-coming bands since the 1970s. The likes of U2, Madness, The Police and even The Ramones have graced the stage here and many new bands continue to do so today. Who knows, a visit to this Islington pub might just put you face to face with the next big thing in the world of rock music.
When it comes to drinking spots with more musical heritage than you can believe, we have to discuss Camden Town. Most famous for its punk and indie scenes, Camden’s pubs have seen more bands than you could count playing their stages. You’ll be able to stand at the same bars that Johnny Rotten, Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty all stood before you. From the Devonshire Arms to the Camden Assembly, drop in to a gig and there’s a good chance that you might just be watching history get made before your very eyes.
Pay your respects
All good things must come to an end, and London has found itself to be the resting place for a number of great musicians. Graves and memorials to both the city’s children and those who adopted London as their home can be found everywhere and there’s no better place to pay your respects as a music fan than in the capital.
You can visit the final resting places of the likes of Queen’s Freddie Mercury at Kensal Green Cemetery, Amy Winehouse at Edgwarebury Cemetery, and the quite remarkable headstone of punk originator Malcolm McLaren in Highgate Cemetery. While some might see visiting a cemetery as slightly morbid, for fans these trips can be solemn yet heartwarming commemorations of Britain’s greatest musical sons and daughters.
If going to the graves themselves isn’t your thing, then paying respects at some of the many musical memorials around London just might be. The David Bowie memorial in Brixton may be the most famous of the lot, with the colourful mural representing the Starman always drawing plenty of visitors with plenty of flowers and letters. There’s also the Amy Winehouse statue in Camden’s Stables Market, certainly a fitting tribute to the soul singer that made the area her home.
If you’re looking to weave yourself into the fabric of London’s musical heritage, then pay a trip to Kore Studios. With veteran recording engineer George Apsion running the show, you’re guaranteed a great recording session. Get in touch today.