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Pubs with History: London's Most Unusual Drinking Dens
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London Rock Music Tour: A Virtual Audio Experience


Hi, I'm Bruce!

Bruce Cherry is first and foremost a rock music fan whose favourite instrument has always been a record player. But along the way he’s been a music journalist, tour manager and roadie, promoter, and author of books on football, music, and even military history. Bruce founded the original London rock tour in the late 1980s while teaching at a London University and has been guiding visitors to the UK in his spare time ever since.

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Soho & Central London

Relive wild nights at iconic rock clubs

“Scores of clubs, many short-lived, gave space to young musicians. And the kids flocked to them to dance the night away. Three of the most important were on Wardour Street: the Flamingo, the Roundhouse, and the Marquee. Further along the street was the ‘Flamingo’, home to the blues all-nighter with Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, or The Animals, and visiting African-American soul singers like James Brown. Just a few doors up is the site of the old Marquee Club. I enjoyed some memorable nights here; Pink Floyd, Bowie, Hendrix, The Stones, Iron Maiden, and the Who all have their roots at the Marquee and Flamingo.”

Listen on Spotify:Leaving Blues,” by Alexis Korner; “I Can See for Miles,” by The Who; and “Move It,” by Cliff Richard.


Curzon Street, Mayfair

From pirate radio to rock 'n' roll tragedy

“Just at the back of the first and original Hard Rock Café lies Curzon Street. Not celebrated as much as it should be for its role in rock history, this street was tenanted by pirate radio station offices, music management companies, and agencies, clubs and private apartments. Dave Clarke hosted famed Sunday breakfasts at his flat but the most renowned must be the apartment of Harry Nilsson, friend of the Beatles, where both Keith Moon and Mama Cass were to die.”

Listen on Spotify:Without You,” by Harry Nilsson; “Glad All Over,” by The Dave Clarke Five.

Marylebone

A blue plaque outside the Marylebone house where Ringo Starr, then Jimi Hendrix, and later John Lennon and Yoko Ono once lived. Credit: Chris Dorney / Shutterstock

Recording studios brought rock 'n' roll roommates

“London is a series of ancient villages that gradually got engulfed as the ‘Great Wem,’ as London was known, grew. In the 1960s various recording studios and record company offices like EMI and Pye were established in the village of Marylebone. Soon, basement or attic flats attracted musicians. One such flat became Ringo Starr’s flat, which he then passed on to Jimi Hendrix and who was succeeded by John & Yoko. If these walls could speak!”

Listen on Spotify:The Ballad of John and Yoko,” by the Beatles; “The Wind Cries Mary,” by Jimi Hendrix.

Kensington High Street

Channel Queen, Bowie, and 1970s glam

“Kensington is one of London’s most upscale neighbourhoods where you’ll find Prince William, Kate, and family; the Beckhams; Jimmy Page; and many other celebs living and hanging out. It’s also home to the Royal Albert Hall, London’s finest musical venue. Musically, [Kensington's] heyday was the 1970s; this is where Queen band members lived and [played their first gig, which was] at the Imperial College Student Union Bar.

Basement clubs in the area also saw early performances of Pink Floyd, Yes, the Byrds, Chuck Berry, and Bowie. The 1970s’ Glam and Glitter Rock movements can be traced here and there places associated with George Michael, The Sweet, Roxy Music, Black Sabbath, and even Frank Zappa.”

Listen on Spotify:Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” by Wham!; “Virginia Plain,” by Roxy Music.

Klooks Kleek & Decca Studios

See where the Beatles flubbed their first big shot

“Probably because it’s not as easy to find, or as well-known as some locations, few people ever visit the Decca Studios or the pub site of the legendary Klook’s Kleek Club. It was at these studios that the Beatles failed their first audition. Lonnie Donnegan recorded the groundbreaking skiffle track ‘Rock Island Line’; Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, and Bowie all recorded their first cuts; and most Moody Blues albums were made here.

The pub next door, Klook’s Kleek, was the recording venue for live LPs from John Mayall, the Cream, Ten Years After, and the great Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band. Even Led Zeppelin and Hendrix appeared upstairs at the Railway pub and in the 80s you’d have seen bands like U2 and Joy Division here!”

Listen on Spotify:Big Time Operator,” by Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band; “Nights in White Satin,” by Moody Blues.

Notting Hill & Portobello Road

Colorful storefronts on London's Portobello Road. Credit: Alberto Stocco / Shutterstock

From Pink Floyd to punk rock and music royalty

“Arguably the greatest rock ’n’ roll neighbourhood in the world! It’s another neighbourhood where we could spend all day visiting atmospheric cafes and buying obscure vinyl at Rough Trade. Home to recording studios and record labels like Island, Virgin, and the more modern XL Recordings. It’s where the hippies hung out, Pink Floyd had their first gigs, punks like The Clash called home, and Bob Marley gave the world reggae. Hendrix (and alas many other rock giants) died here but it’s also where among many other Adele, Cat Stevens, Tom Jones, Lemmy, Joe Cocker, Madonna, Paul Rogers, Mark Knofler, Lily Allen, Nick Drake, and Eric Clapton have all called home.”

Listen on Spotify:No Woman No Cry,” by Bob Marley; “Portobello Road,” by Yusuf/Cat Stevens.

Islington & Holloway

Some of Britain’s most famed rock albums were cut in studios here

“To north London’s Islington and Holloway Road next. I love this area which has been much gentrified since the 1970s when Pink Floyd established their own Britannia Row studios and the kids from the local primary school became the most famed kids choir putting ‘Another Brick in the Wall.’ Being a cheap neighbourhood, it attracted musicians, artists, and actors, but it was also where [Rolling Stones drummer] Charlie Watts was brought up.

Famed local recording studios have included Wessex, where the Sex Pistols, Clash, King Crimson, and Queen all laid down seminal albums. Joe Meek’s legendary Holloway Road studio where the Tornados recorded ‘Telstar’ and a very young Jimmy Page cut his first disc. Let me show you this door, just around the corner—still the original one to the basement flat—where another young man, Reg Dwight, found the inspiration for his new name of Elton John.”

Listen on Spotify:Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” by Elton John; “Another Brick in the Wall,” Pink Floyd; “Telstar,” by The Tornados.

Camden Town

Amy Winehouse statue in Camden, the London neighborhood where the late singer lived. Credit: Nando Machado / Shutterstock

It’s not just history: Some music legends still live here

“Every music fan heads for Camden and the famed Camden canal-side market. Not surprising when you learn of just how rich the local music history is and the fact that there are still more gigs sites here than in any other London neighbourhood. It’s hard to choose what’s been the most influential location here; maybe the Dublin Castle Pub where everyone from Kurt Cobain to Amy Winehouse played and where both Madness and Blur had residencies.

But there’s also the great hippy-era Roundhouse (just Google it!) or the nearby Primrose Hill where Paul and George met ‘The Fool on the HIll.’ Oasis had their ‘Champagne Supernova’ house here and you might currently run into Robert Plant or Harry Styles!”

Listen on Spotify:Wonderwall” by Oasis; “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse.

Kings Road, Chelsea

Swing through the heart of rock 'n' roll London

“The King’s Road, Chelsea, was the rockin’ heart of the 1960s ‘Swinging London.’ You take a walk down here and every second building has a story; there’s Bowie’s house, and Bob Marley’s, and Eric Clapton’s, and where Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso spent their London exile. Look, over here is where ‘Clockwork Orange’ was filmed. To the right, James Bond’s flat was supposedly at that address and over there the boutique where the Sex Pistols were formed.

You’re a Rolling Stones fan? It’s overload time; their original Edith Grove apartment, Keef and Anita’s flat, the pub where Bill Wyman was auditioned, Jagger’s current palace—all here! And what’s this building? Sound Techniques Studio where Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Cat Stevens, Nick Drake, and so many more made their first records. Next door was Pete Townsend’s flat where ‘Tommy’ was figuratively born.”

Listen on Spotify:See Emily Play,” by Pink Floyd; “Serenade to a Cuckoo,” Jethro Tull.

Abbey Road

The Abbey Road crossing made famous by the 1969 Beatles album cover. Credit: berm_teerawat / Shutterstock

The most famous crosswalk in the world

“I can’t take you on a rock tour of London, the Capital of Rock, without coming to the location of the most famed photo in rock: Abbey Road. So much fun dodging the traffic to get your own photo done! Meanwhile, look at the old EMI studio next door. What great music has been made and continues to be here; The Zombies, Pink Floyd, Florence and the Machine, Kanye West, the list goes on and on.

But this was where the great Beatle era really began. About 70% of their music was recorded here. Yes, The Beatles were originally from Liverpool but it was London that made them globally famous and virtually every iconic photo of the Fab Four that you’d instantly recognise was taken in London. Paul still lives just around the corner, by the way… and nearby there’s a quirky little memorabilia shop.”

Listen on Spotify:Time of the Season,” The Zombies; “All You Need is Love,” The Beatles.

Although traveling to London might not be an option right now, you can discover London's music scene with Bruce once borders open again.


London Rock Music Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

London Rock Music Tour

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Delve into London’s legendary rock music history on this morning, afternoon or full-day tour. Hop aboard your coach and check off the English capital’s top rock ‘n’ roll landmarks, from ‘Tin Pan Alley,’ where the Rolling Stones cut their first record, to the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing. This small-group tour is limited to just 16 participants, ensuring a more intimate experience with personalized attention from the guide.
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  • 8 hours
  • iconEnglish
  • Free Cancellation
From
$68.77
From
$68.77

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Hi, I'm Bruce!

Bruce Cherry is first and foremost a rock music fan whose favourite instrument has always been a record player. But along the way he’s been a music journalist, tour manager and roadie, promoter, and author of books on football, music, and even military history. Bruce founded the original London rock tour in the late 1980s while teaching at a London University and has been guiding visitors to the UK in his spare time ever since.

Keep exploring
See all London tours
2,750 tours & tickets
Things to do in London
See all things to do in London
Pubs with History: London's Most Unusual Drinking Dens
Pubs with History: London's Most Unusual Drinking Dens