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London's musical heritage

Explore London's rich musical heritage and discover buzzing live venues, popular record stores, and famous musical houses.

The front and stairs leading up to Abbey Road Studios.
Abbey Road Studios, London. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

The capital is brimming with music history, from London music venues which have played host to legendary names, to commemorative street art and fascinating blue plaques. 

Discover more about music in London

London's music hub in Soho

Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho
Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, Soho. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Walk the streets of Soho and experience where some of the most famous bands and artists in the world have performed. Check out Ronnie Scott's iconic jazz club, request tunes at The Piano Works, or try Ain't Nothin But Blues Bar in Soho for live music, seven days a week.

Stroll down to legendary Denmark Street, also known as "Tin Pan Alley", which houses London’s best collection of musical instrument shops.

The Rolling Stones recorded in Regent Sounds Studio at 4 Denmark Street, and the Gioconda Café was a local favourite of many musical icons, including David Bowie and Elton John. The Sex Pistols even lived above 6 Denmark Street.

Just a few blocks away, you'll find Berwick Street, the location for the cover of the (What's the Story) Morning Glory? album by Oasis. It’s now home to top independent record stores, including renowned Sister Ray and Reckless Records.

Music spots around Oxford Street and Covent Garden

The Royal Opera House building in Covent Garden, London.
See some of the world’s best opera and ballet at The Royal Opera House. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Look for more music history in nearby Oxford Street. One of the capital's most iconic music venues, 100 Club, has hosted performances by Sex Pistols, Oasis, The Clash and The White Stripes. Head to Soho and check out Fopp, which contains a great collection of CDs, DVDs, signing events and live performances.

In Mayfair, the side-by-side houses of Handel & Hendrix in London were once home to George Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix. Explore Hendrix’s home, restored to the state it was in when he lived there in 1969, and walk through Handel’s rehearsal and performance rooms.

A tour of London's musical heritage wouldn't be complete without a visit to Covent Garden's Royal Opera House. Open to the public during the day, this world-famous theatre also has cut-price tickets available every Friday at 1pm for opera and ballet performances.

Follow the Rolling Stones in Chelsea and Kensington

Edith Grove street sign, Chelsea.
Edith Grove street sign, Chelsea. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

It all began at 102 Edith Grove, the Rolling Stones' first London home in Chelsea. This part of London is full of iconic spots that marked the history of one of the world’s greatest bands.

Start off on King's Road, a popular hangout for the band and other music icons. Discover the former location for Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Sex Store at number 430, where Sid Vicious, Chrissie Hynde and Glen Matlock all worked as shop assistants. Plus, visit the “Chelsea drugstore” (now a McDonald’s on the corner of Royal Avenue), which inspired the Rolling Stones’ song You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Take a short stroll to the river and walk along the Thames on Cheyne Walk: at number 48 you’ll find Mick Jagger’s former home and garden studio. Make sure to also drop by the Royal Albert Hall, which hosted epoch-making performances by the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Paul McCartney and more. 

West London isn’t all about the Stones. Bob Dylan’s first performance took place at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court, not too far from Freddie Mercury’s London home at Logan Place.

North London music hotspots

Amy Winehouse statue in Camden Stables.
Amy Winehouse statue, Camden. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Head to St John’s Wood to re-enact the Beatles' iconic Abbey Road album cover at the world’s most famous zebra crossing. The Fab Four’s fans should then head to Baker Street and browse the London Beatles Store for top Beatles memorabilia. 

Stay in north London and explore Camden Town, with its array of vibrant music venues. Try The Jazz CafeCamden UnderworldThe Roundhouse (where Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and The Doors all performed) or Dingwalls, to see some of the best of London’s live music scene.

If folk is your thing, pay a visit to Cecil Sharp House, where you can find an arts centre that engages with folk-lovers through inspiring events.

Popular pub The Dublin Castle has seen TravisBlur and Arctic Monkeys pass through its doors, while gig venue KOKO London hosted Madonna’s first ever UK performance. Camden Market was also the set for The Clash’s debut album cover featuring Joe Strummer, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon standing on a trolley rump (now a staircase on the left-hand side of the Stables Market entrance).

Camden was the London neighbourhood Amy Winehouse called home; find her statue in the Stables Market and tribute street art hidden around the area. 

Follow the canal up to Primrose Hill, where the Rolling Stones shot the cover for their 1967 album Between The Buttons.

Grime vibes in the East End

Grime artist rapping to crowd
Grime artist. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Discover grime, a London-born music genre, in the area where it first took form, the East End. With roots in Jamaican reggae and influences from rap, garage and hip-hop, grime music is fast, disruptive and raw.
Former pirate radio station Rinse FM was one of the first to give voice to artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Skepta and Wiley. You can find it at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, a few steps away from London’s most famous record store, Rough Trade East.
To hear some top grime, try Oslo in Hackney, Fabric in Farringdon, or look for independent music festivals such as Eskimo Dance.

Music gems south of the Thames

Painted mural of David Bowie in Brixton covered with flowers and letters
Bowie mural in Brixton. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Explore the birthplace of David Bowie in Brixton: a spectacular mural on Tunstall Road celebrates the artist's incredible legacy.

Drop by independent cinema Olympic Studios in Barnes, which once housed a legendary recording studio and welcomed the likes of the Spice GirlsLed Zeppelin, Queen, Prince, Duran Duran and Oasis.

For live music in London, look for rising stars at Tooting Tram & Social, listen to jazz at The Bull's Head in Barnes or head to Putney's The Half Moon, which has played host to big-name artists such as The Who and U2.

Complete the Croydon Music Heritage Trail to learn all about the borough's brightest stars and its rich musical heritage from past and present.

London's blue plaques

Jimi Hendrix blue plaque at his 1968-1969 London residence.
Jimi Hendrix blue plaque. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Look for blue plaques hanging on walls and street corners all over the capital, with many dedicated to some of the world’s greatest musicians.

Head to the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith to see a plaque dedicated to American blues rocker Buddy Holly. In central London, find Jimi Hendrix and George Frederic Handel's blue plaque at 25 Brook Street, plaques dedicated to John Lennon and George Harrison at 94 Baker Street, and one to Keith Moon on the site of the legendary Marquee Club at 90 Wardour Street in Soho.

You can also spot composer Gustav Holst's former home close to the picturesque riverside in Barnes.

David Bowie fans should look for a black plaque in Heddon Street, commemorating the site where Ziggy Stardust’s cover was shot in 1972.

Discover more about music in London, including top London festivals101 music-themed activities, the best live music bars in London and cheap gig tickets