Ever wondered what the best musical spots in London are? Fear not. James Drury, who was previously the Editor-in-Chief of the Londonist, and has written self-guided tours for them too, is on hand to help. Today, he’s using his knowledge of some of the best music spots in London to provide us with a self-guided tour of his favourite lyrical locations across the city.


‘Why Oh Why would I wanna be anywhere else,’ sang Lily Allen on her 2006 smash hit LDN, and she was right. Home to the world’s greatest musicians, birthplace of globe-conquering genres, inspiration for some of the most famous songs created - this is one hell of a music city. Discover some of its secrets for yourself on our self-guided walking tour.


Can you Handel it?


Start at Bond Street station and you’re just about a 3-minute walk from Brook Street, where two of Britain’s most famous adopted musical sons made their home. Both revolutionaries created never-heard-before sounds, are greatly lauded today, and are known by their surnames (which of both begin with H): Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel. Hendrix lived at 23, while Handel composed at number 25. The pair were separated by a wall and about 200 years, but you can nose around their homes at the Handel and Hendrix Museum that’s on this spot.


Jimi Hendrix museum, London


A Starman is born


Next stop: Heddon Street, 10 minutes


From there, strum your way down Regent Street to 23 Heddon Street, a seemingly inconsequential side road with an intergalactic significance. This was where David Bowie alter-ego Ziggy Stardust was born (or, at least, where the album cover was shot). Rather than the slightly scruffy street it was when the Starman touched down, today it’s rather well-to-do, with cafés and restaurants lining the pavement. Space trivia: the fabric for Bowie’s outfit was bought not far away on Regent Street.


Heddon Street, London


Wok 'n' roll


Next stop: Gerrard Street, 11 minutes


Moonwalk the short trip to 39 Gerrard Street, in Chinatown. These days it’s a pretty good restaurant, but on 19 August 1968 something more exciting was being cooked up. This is the birthplace of rock legends Led Zeppelin. The four musicians found a Whole Lotta Love here when they had their first rehearsal together in the basement of the building. It’s also the site of the original Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club which moved to its current home in nearby Frith Street, in the mid-1960s.


Gerrard Street, London


The Culture Club


Next stop: Dean Street, 3 minutes


Just one street over from the famous jazz club and a stone’s throw from Mozart’s home at 20 Frith Street is 69 Dean Street – the location of Billy’s nightclub. This was where Bowie club nights gave birth to Blitz kids and new romantics. Boy George (then just George O’Dowd), Steve Strange, Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama and others partied here as they created a totally new look that went on to define the 80s.


Dean Street, London


Champagne Soho nova


Next stop: Berwick Street, 4 minutes


Grab your parka and make for Berwick Street, where the photo on the cover of Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? was shot. If you stand near number 80 you can recreate the iconic image yourself. The two men in the photo were DJ Sean Rowley and album producer Owen Morris.


Berwick Street, London


The queen of all studios


Next stop: Trident Studios, 2 minutes


Down a nearby alley is Trident Studios, where some of the most famous songs of all time were recorded. Behind these unassuming blue doors, Queen made Bohemian Rhapsody, Elton John’s Candle In The Wind was lit and The Beatles made Hey Jude. In the corridors, you could have bumped into Lou Reed, Rick Wakeman, Black Sabbath, Marc Bolan, and many more. On the wall is a blue plaque commemorating the recording of Bowie’s Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust.


Head up Wardour Street, past the famous 100 Club on Oxford Street to Goodge Street station and get on the Northern line a few stops to Kentish Town.


Trident Studios, London


A swift 'bab


Next stop: Kentish Town, 16 minutes via the Northern line


Head slightly north from the station to Kentish Delights. As well as being a great spot to grab a restorative skewer, this is the kebab shop where Taylor Swift shot the video for End Game. Well, half of it - the glamorous shots were on location in Miami, but we’re not interested in those bits. Apparently, the owner served her a shish and salad. So now you can just go in and order ‘what Tay Tay had’.


Kentish Delight, London


Britpop in for a beer


Next stop: The Good Mixer, 18 minutes


Next, make for The Good Mixer – it’s a 20-minute walk so if you’re in a meat coma from that kebab, just get the tube one stop to Camden Town. This pub was a favourite drinking spot of many of Britpop’s biggest names, from Blur to Elastica; it was common to find guitarist Graham Coxon in here ready for a chat with anyone – even at the height of their fame.


All revved up and ready to go


Next stop: Dingwalls, 5 minutes


Next, onto the birthplace of another scene in London: Dingwalls – where Ramones played their second gig in London 4 July 1976 (their first was at the nearby Roundhouse the day before). This is where punk was born in the UK.


Dingwalls, London


Amy's Camden


Final stop: The Hawley Arms, 3 minutes


Our final destination is the famous pub The Hawley Arms. Amy Winehouse was a regular here – her former home is just a short walk away at 30 Camden Square. She played secret gigs, as well as hanging out here, and there’s a touching tribute to her inside.

 

From the pub you can do a mini tour of Amy’s Camden: you’ll find a life-size statue of her in Stables Market – which is also where The Clash’s debut album cover was photographed (turn left as you go in and you’ll find the steps) – plus Amy used to work at nearby pub The Dublin Castle. This pub and live music venue has played host to many famous bands and is where local boys Madness donned their Baggy Trousers and took One Step Beyond, into stardom.


Hawley Arms, London


These locations are just the opening chord in the symphony of London’s musical history. So, what are you waiting for? London's calling.


James Drury is currently the Editor of The Guide for The Barbican. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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