Soho: London's music hub
Walk the streets of Soho and drink in the atmosphere of an area where some of the most famous bands and artists in the world have performed. Check out Ronnie Scott's legendary jazz club, open since 1959, or try The Borderline in Leicester Square for live blues, rock, pop and indie.
Those looking to purchase a guitar, or just do a bit of window shopping can 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 at Regent Sounds Studio, 4 Denmark Street, and the Gioconda Café was a local favourite of David Bowie and Elton John. Even the Sex Pistols lived here, 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 some independent record stores, including renowned Sister Ray and Reckless Records.
Music spots around Oxford Street and Covent Garden
Look for more music history in nearby Oxford Street. One of the capital’s most iconic music venues, Oxford Street’s 100 Club, has hosted exciting performances by Sex Pistols, Oasis, The Clash and The White Stripes. Also check out HMV, which contains a huge collection of CDs, DVDs and merchandise.
Discover Handel & Hendrix in London, just around the corner. These two houses, side-by-side, were once home to legendary composer George Frideric Handel and guitar impresario Jimi Hendrix (although not at the same time, of course). Now a museum, you can explore Hendrix’s home, now 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 at less than £10 for opera and ballet.
Follow the Rolling Stones in Chelsea and Kensington
It all began at 102 Edith Grove, the Rolling Stone’s 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 in Kings 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, Chrissy Hynde and Glen Matlock all worked as shop assistants, and visit the “Chelsea drugstore” (now a McDonald’s on the corner with 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 visit the magnificent Royal Albert Hall, which hosted epoch-making performances by the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Paul McCartney and more. If you’re looking for some refreshment, grab a bite at the Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman’s American diner Sticky Fingers, near High Street Kensington.
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
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 have a browse in the London Beatles Store for top Beatles memorabilia. Pick up vintage posters, records, collectibles and autographs.
Stay in north London and explore Camden Town, with its host of vibrant music venues. Try The Jazz Café, Camden Underworld, The 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 unique and inspiring events.
Popular pub Dublin Castle has seen Travis, Blur and Arctic Monkeys pass through its doors, while gig venue Koko 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’s entrance).
Camden was the London neighbourhood Amy Winehouse called home: you can find her statue in the Stables Market and plenty of tribute street art hidden all around the area. On the Regent's Canal (just past The Pirate Castle if you are heading towards ZSL London Zoo) you’ll find a beautiful artwork by street artist Icarus inspired by the London musician. 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
Stroll through the streets of London and 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 on the wall of their old houses 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, 90 Wardour Street in Soho. David Bowie’s fans should look for a black plaque in Heddon Street, commemorating the site where Ziggy Stardust’s cover was shot in 1972. A spectacular mural on Tunstall Road in Brixton also celebrates Bowie’s legacy.