For the past 75 years, the rhythm of London's music scene has beat loudest in the vibrant neighbourhood of Soho: a mecca for rock, pop, and jazz legends. Throughout its storied history, it has played a critical role in shaping generation-defining artists and timeless tracks.
Let's embark on a journey through one of London's most fascinating districts and explore the historical hotspots that have made their mark on music history!
Club Tropicana (18 Greek Street)
When you hear the phrase "Club Tropicana", the Wham! smash hit probably comes to mind.
However, you might be surprised by the fact that it was a real club in Soho...that neither George Michael nor Andrew Ridgeley ever visited themselves!
The duo, fascinated by Soho's risqué atmosphere, spent their teenage years perfecting their dance moves at former nightclub "Le Beat Route" and sneaking into adult cinemas.
The uplifting pop classic paints the picture of a relaxing haven but also offers listeners a glimpse into the group's history with this symbolic part of London.
Wag Club (33 Wardour Street)
In April 1982, businessman Chris Sullivan opened up the Wag Club, and with it, changed the London nightclub scene forever.
In contrast to other West End clubs, the Wag Club embraced a diverse fusion of music styles from hip hop to Latin jazz, and offered drinks at affordable prices.
Throughout its 19-year history, its unique and inviting atmosphere attracted some of pop culture's biggest icons, from Martin Scorsese to Madonna. David Bowie even filmed the music video to his hit song "Blue Jean" here!
Abbey Road Studios (3 Abbey Road)
A name recognized by music lovers all over the world, Abbey Road Studios has become a sacred space for musicians across a wide array of genres. The Beatles recorded their legendary album "Abbey Road" and recorded over 90% of their songs in the walls of these studios.
However, this place's importance extends far beyond the Beatles:
Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" and John Williams' film scores for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Return of the Jedi" were also recorded here!
Trident Studios (17 St. Anne's Court)
In its brief 13-year history, Trident Studios helped give rise to a plethora of rock anthems and legendary albums.
Famous for their handmade Bechstein grand piano, its crisp sound can be heard in timeless classics from The Beatles' "Hey Jude" to Elton John's "Your Song".
Some of rock music's most celebrated albums were recorded here, such as David Bowie's magnum opus "Ziggy Stardust" and Queen's first three albums that launched their rise to the top.
In fact, Trident Studios often received much credit for discovering Queen, as they took on the band's management role and helped catapult the band into international stardom.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Informally known as "Tin Pan Alley", Denmark Street offers a treasure trove of music history.
Once bustling with recording studios, music shops (some of which remain open to this day), and hangout spots for rock 'n roll icons, it serves as a reminder of Soho's illustrious past.
Famous music shops like Top Gear Music served as instrument stores and social hubs for artists like Eric Clapton and Bob Marley.
The street remembers the dreams of 17-year-old tea server Reggie Dwight (who would soon become Elton John) and aspiring artist David Bowie as they each paved their way to worldwide fame.
While many of its establishments have faded away, the legacy of Denmark Street lives on as a must-see for any music enthusiast.
Handel & Hendrix House (23 and 25 Brook Street)
As we venture beyond Soho, an incredible convergence of classical and contemporary music history awaits. The Handel & Hendrix House tells two remarkable musical stories 200 years apart.
In 1741, George Frederic Handel composed the timeless "Hallelujah Chorus" at 25 Brook Street, a melody that continues to ring at Yuletide church services around the world.
Fast forward to 1968, where Jimi Hendrix's creative genius resided just next door at 23 Brook Street, hosting lively jam sessions.
It's fascinating that had the two been alive at the same time, it's very possible they would have been next-door neighbours: two different areas, two legends that forever shaped the landscape of music.
In its charming allure, Soho stands as a testament to the electrifying spirit of popular music, a place where dreams became reality, stars were born, and melodies inspired generations of musicians and music lovers alike.
Join us on our walking tour through Soho's rich tapestry of music history: together, we'll celebrate the legacy of this iconic neighbourhood that has "rocked" the soul of London to its core.
Book your private Soho Rock 'n Roll: Icons Unveiled tour today!
As a tour guide and a lover of London, I will be writing a series of interesting stories about London; tales I have heard, places I have visited, tasty food I have eaten and delicious drinks I have enjoyed. Watch out for this every week or so.