July 17, 2019 / 5:29 PM

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Adele's '25' Recording Studio to Beatles' Abbey Road: London Walking Tour of Musical History

 

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The London music scene has been a large component in music industry discussion following the recent surge in popularity from British singer/songwriter Adele, who will play a handful of shows in London this February. From Handel to Hendrix, Abbey Road to Adele's Recording Studio, London is a goldmine of musical history.

Whether you're working without an itinerary or keeping to a strict agenda during a trip to London, there are several music-related spots in the city you should hit first. Music-lovers should circle these destinations on your map for a walking tour so you don't forget them!
Madame Tussauds London
Madame Tussauds Appoint A Tissue Attendant For One Direction Fans After Zayn Malik's Departure
(Photo: Alex Huckle/Getty Images)

No one can call their trip to London complete without setting foot in Madame Tussauds. Book your hotel within walking distance of this wax museum on Marylebone Road so you won't spend all your energy on a crosstown trek. Here you can view eerily lifelike figures of rock stars and entertainers both past and present, including Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, and Lady Gaga. If you pay by credit card and are picking up your tickets, make sure that the cardholder is in your party when you arrive. Otherwise, you'll need a signed letter to retrieve the tickets.

Neighborhood: Located in Marylebone just south of Regent's Park.

Underground: Marylebone Station - 8 min walk

Selfridges
Apple Watch Window Display At Selfridges London
(Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Apple)

This sprawling flagship department store on Oxford Street is a favorite of film stars and platinum artists alike. Even Beyonce herself couldn't resist pursuing the women's shoe section to buy up all the 6-inch heels in sight. There's no guarantee that you'll run into a famous musician, but the chance to indulge in some luxurious retail therapy is all its own reward.

Neighborhood: Located in Soho on Oxford Street.
Underground: Bond Street Station, Jubilee and Central Lines - 4 min walk

London Rock Tour
Don't want to use your feet? Hop on the London Rock Tour to get a guided trip that winds through the city past landmarks like the former homes of all four Beatles. You can also learn about places connected to the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton. The tour lasts almost four hours and only allows 16 participants per trip so, if you want to take part and still have time left in your day, start this one early.

Neighborhood: Most tours start from the Original London Visitor Centre on Cockspur Street
Contact Information: Email reservations@londonrocktour.com to confirm your tour date and start location.

Album Covers in Real Life: There are countless famous locations across London that served as the raw material for some of music's greatest album art.

The Beatles: Abbey Road

The Beatles 45th Anniversary - Photocall
(Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty)

Hundreds of people nearly get run over every day standing in Abbey Road trying to recreate the cover of the Beatles' second-to-last album. Bloggers are endlessly writing about near-death experiences they saw. Pay attention to oncoming traffic during your visit when you strike your best fake walking pose in the middle of the street. Obey the flashing signs on either side, and you should live to Instagram another day.

Neighborhood: Crossing located in St. John's Wood
Underground: St. John's Wood Station - 5 min walk

Oasis: (What's the Story) Morning Glory?

The band's second album hit number one in four countries (not the United States), and sold enough records to go platinum four times over. Mark down Berwick Street in Soho as a mandatory stop to see the lane that graced the cover of Oasis's landmark album. There's plenty of outdoor fruit and deli stands lining both sides of the street during the day, if you want to grab a quick bite before heading off to your next destination. If you're there for Record Store Day, you're likely to see neighborhood indie labels and record stores sponsoring live music and one-off vinyl exclusives.

Neighborhood: Berwick Street is located in Soho.
Underground: Oxford Circus Station - 6 min walk

EMI House: The Sex Pistols and Blur

An easy way to knock three bands off the list at a single destination is by visiting EMI House, which is at 20 Manchester Square. Here, you'll find a recognizable stairwell that served as the site for the covers of Please, Please Me, the Beatles' first album, their Red greatest hits LP in 1966, their Blue greatest hits LP in 1970, and several others. Both the Sex Pistols and Blur also recreated the image in press photos taken at the record company years later.

Neighborhood: Situated in Manchester Square in Marylebone
Underground: Bond Street Station - 6 min walk

Carly Simon: Anticipation

Londoners Enjoy The Warm Weather(Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The sophomore effort from Carly Simon went on to rave reviews in music magazines like Rolling Stone, and Gold status from the RIAA. Its cover art features Simon standing arms spread wide grasping the gates of Queen Mary's Garden. To create your own version, head to Regent's Park in northwest London. Granted, you'll need to hold up foot traffic to the park to snap the picture, but the net result is a lifetime souvenir.

Neighborhood: Regent's Park is a neighborhood unto itself north of Marylebon
Underground: Baker Street Station - 4 min walk

Pink Floyd: Animals

Stage One Of The Re-development Of Battersea Power Station Is Complete
(Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Battersea Power Station is an imposing sight you'll recognize from the cover of Pink Floyd's 1977 concept album, Animals. Located along the southern bank of the River Thames, you may also recognize the decommissioned power station as the setting for nefarious doings and science fiction occurrences from BBC shows like Doctor Who and Sherlock, as well as blockbuster films like The Dark Knight. Development is in full swing at the site, with multiple retail outlets and restaurants in production, which could soon allow you to plan an entire day around this musical stop.

Neighborhood: Battersea Park in Nine Elms located in southwestern London.
Overground: The Southern Line from London Victoria Station leaving every 9 mins - 11 min walk

Must-See Museum Stops: Fill up your second day in London with museums of musical significance. The city offers a variety of collections, including historical instruments dating back to the 15th century. Any one of these stops could occupy the better part of an afternoon, so choose wisely when you set out in the morning!

Musical Museum

Simply Saxony At The Victoria And Albert Museum
(Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Simply Saxony)

Founded as British Piano Museum in the late 1960s, the Musical Museum houses one of the world's largest collections of self-playing musical instruments. You'll find everything from player pianos to violin players and ornate music boxes. There's also a Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ equipped with a self-playing mechanism that takes up a generous section of one of the museum's three floors. Rotating exhibits, which include odd musical inventions like finger stretchers for pianists, happen every season, so check out the current schedule online before visiting.

Neighborhood: Located in Brentford north of the River Thames off High Street.
Underground: Take the Piccadilly Line to South Ealing then the 65 Bus - 2 min walk

Royal College of Music

If you booked a room near Madame Tussauds, it's a short ride via public transit to Royal College of Music to see more than 1,000 historical musical accessories and instruments in the school's museum. Check out RCM's hallowed collection of autographed compositions, including Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 and Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto. The museum section of the college is open from Tuesday through Friday, and admission is free. If you're part of a large tour group, however, the curator may impose a small fee per person.

Neighborhood: Located in South Kensington near Knightsbridge and Royal Albert Hall
Underground: Knightsbridge Station - 15 minute walk.

Victoria and Albert Museum

Toshiba Gallery Of Japanese Art Opens At the V&A Museum
(Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

This museum houses a storied art and design collection of more than 4.5 million pieces. On your musical journey of London, it's the Music Hall and Variety Theatre section that you'll want to look at further. Get an intimate view of what music halls were like in the 1800s with detailed histories of performers from that time, including Lottie Collins and George Leybourne. Other items in the collection include manuscripts, prompt books, and song sheets from original musicals, both British and American.

Neighborhood: Located in Kensington near Knightsbridge and Chelsea.
Underground: South Kensington - 4 min walk

Science Museum, London

Music at a science museum? Absolutely. Walk across the street from Victoria and Albert Museum to Science Museum, London to get a good look at Oramics to Electronica, an innovative history that charts the birth of electronic music in the 1950s through its modern-day applications. Homing in on several major British studios that helped birth electronica and fostered its production, the collection displays original soundboards, synthesizers, and circuit boards. The heart of the collection is the Oramics Machine, a large prototype synthesizer designed by Oram.

Neighborhood: South Kensington along Exhibition Road next to the Natural History Museum
Underground: Gloucester Road Station - 12 min walk

Visiting Recording Studios: London is home to a clutch of recording studios that were ground zero for watershed moments in modern music history. As your whirlwind weekend in London winds down, make sure you save time to visit at least one of these important places.

Denmark Street Studios

The Music Stores And Recording Studios Of Denmark Street(Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Tin Pan Alley isn't the same after 12 Bar Club and Enterprise Studios closed down, but Denmark Street Studios still remains. Why should you pop into the relatively nondescript building for a visit? No reason, unless you're interested in walking the same grounds as Adele when she recorded "Set Fire to the Rain" or the Streets when he laid down "Everything is Borrowed." If you have time, stop by Number 23, which housed the original bookshop Forbidden Planet.

Neighborhood: West End near Soho Square and the Phoenix Theatre
Underground: Tottenham Court Road Station - 3 min walk

Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road Studios Opens Its Doors To The Public
(Photo: Tim Whitby/Getty Images)

No, you can't usually just walk into the building where the Beatles recorded one earth-shattering song after the other, but taking in the grounds and mystique of the place remains a must. You could, of course, book time in the recording studio itself, if money isn't an object, but such a move might detract from the rest of your trip by destroying your food budget.

Neighborhood: City of Westminster, St. John's Wood
Underground: St. John's Wood Station - 5 min walk

Trident Studios

From Queen and the Rolling Stones to Peter Gabriel and Lou Reed, Trident Studios was the venue that birthed dozens of classic rock albums from the 1960s through the early 1980s. Featuring leading production and equipment for its time, Trident attracted one major artist after another looking for crisp sound and multi-layered instrumentation. David Bowie recorded "Ziggy Stardust" there. Elton John brought "Candle in the Wind" to life there. Those two facts alone should convince you to stop by and see if the building still resonates with all that history.

Neighborhood: Soho on St. Ann's Court near The Breakfast Club
Underground: Tottenham Court Road Station - 6 min walk

Live Music in London:  Don't leave London without seeing a show at one of the city's nightclubs, bars, or underground venues. Local spots open and close often, so make sure to check that the venue is still in operation before you head out.

The Nest

A seriously low ceiling and a building that fits just 350 people are all part of the appeal at The Nest, an electrohouse space in Dalston. Updated lighting and sound system augment the weekly DJ gigs and theme parties, which merge into a touring schedule that doesn't shy away from big names and emerging artists in the EDM movement, including Kry Wolf, Grainger and Artwork.

● Size: 350
● Drinks: Yes
● Food: No
● Genres: House, Techno, EDM

Neighborhood: Shacklewell in the Borough of Hackney
Overground: Finsbury Square (Stop D) leaving every 12 mins - 9 min walk from Finsbury

Bush Hall

 106.7 KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas 2015 - Day 1
(Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for CBS Radio)

Perhaps the lesser-known of the Shepherd's Bush venues, Bush Hall is an independent concert hall hosting a variety of acts from international touring bands (La Dispute, Bastille) to indie artists (Barr Brothers, Bella Hardy). Conceived originally as a dance hall in the early 1900s, the space served its country as a soup kitchen in World War II and even did time as a bingo hall before the current owners revamped the structure in 2001. The place remains true to its original construction, however, with ornate ceilings that rise well above the ground-level stage and general admission area.

● Size: 450
● Drinks: Yes
● Food: No (try Bush Hall Dining Rooms next door)
● Genres: Indie, Alt Rock, Americana, Alt Pop

Neighborhood: West End on Uxbridge Road
Underground: Shepherd's Bush Market Station - 5 min walk

Notting Hill Arts Club

Equal parts boho art show and cellar dweller musical experience, Notting Hill Arts Club has theme nights for every day of the week. Whether you want old school hip-hop, drum and bass, or even gospel sour, this venue has a night and an artist playing there to suit your taste. Contests to win entrance into intimate gigs and one-night-only events happen all the time. Don't worry about a dress code - they actively discourage the suit-and-tie look.

● Size: 218
● Drinks: Yes
● Food: Maybe (theme dependent)
● Genres: Roll the dice

Neighborhood: Notting Hill in West London near the Diana Memorial Playground
Underground: Notting Hill Gate Station - 2 min walk

Taking in the music history and cultural significance that London has to offer in just a few days could never do it complete justice. You might want to extend your stay to fit it all in, but you can always come back! It'll all be waiting if you choose to return.

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