LONDON'S MOST FAMOUS ALBUM COVER LOCATIONS ~ RE-VISITED
It was Mick Jagger who said anything worth doing is worth over-doing. I would like to add that it is also worth redoing and revisiting. So with my strong love of music and exploring London I went out to re-visit the locations of some of the most famous album covers in music history and see just how they look today. Some were not that easy to find... but others you could not miss.
BEATLES ~ ABBEY ROAD
Thought I would start with likely the most famous of all album covers, Abbey Road. Taken on the verge of the Beatles break-up this album cover was shot not far from the recording studio of the same name and is properly one of the most recognizable album covers of all time. Almost 50 years later this crosswalk today still has thousands of people coming annually and holding up traffic as they try and recreate the famous road crossing. I know, I was one of them. The idea for the cover was Paul McCartney's which he scribbled on a piece of paper. Story has it that photographer Ian Macmillan had ten minutes to climb a stepladder while a policeman stopped traffic and at approximately 11.30AM on 8 August 1969 music history was made.
PAUL MCCARTNEY AND WINGS ~ LONDON TOWN
It was 1978, the world famous Tower Bridge in the background where Wings shot the cover of London Town their 6th album. Wings recorded 7 albums in total before McCartney used those wings and flew off and went solo. In 2016 McCartney was confirmed as U.K.'s Most Successful Albums Act Of All Time as his albums with the Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist sold more albums than any other artist in history. 22 Number 1 Albums. Very impressive Sir Paul.
Although the shore along the river Thames has changed and developed over the years Tower Bridge has remained the same, the most photographed place in London.
PINK FLOYD ~ ANIMALS
One of the main reasons people around the world know the Battersea Power Station is because of the Pink Floyd album cover for ‘Animals’. The album was loosely based on Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ which is why they chose to suspend a pig from one of the chimneys. The 30 foot helium pig broke free and ended up floating into Heathrow Airport’s flightpath before eventually landing. How great would it have been to see pigs fly? Can you imagine explaining that to your friends without them thinking you're losing it?
Today, Battersea Power Station, Europe's largest brick building is now undergoing a massive overhaul and when completed it will house over 3,400 homes as well as shops, restaurants, hotels, parkland and new home to Apple's European Headquarters.
CARLY SIMON ~ ANTICIPATION
The 1971 cover photo was taken at the gates of Queen Mary's Garden in Regent Park near where Carly was recording the album Anticipation. A great place to visit in the summer when the thousands of roses are in bloom. That song got an added fame boost after being used for a very popular Heinz Ketchup commercial, if you are old enough to remember, which clearly I am. The photograph was taken by her brother, Peter Simon.
Man in the background trying to "anticipate" when I might be done making a fool out of myself. Or Carly anticipating when this woman will get out of her shot (loving the handbag and shades), this woman is my spirit animal.
MUMFORD & SONS ~ SIGH NO MORE
Shot in 2009 at 596 Kings Road this location today although very similar to the album cover Sigh No More will be changing soon. The business currently occupying this store is shutting its doors. Got to say, looked a whole lot cheerier with the band in the window.
OASIS ~ (WHAT'S THE STORY) MORNING GLORY?
This album cover was taken in 1995 on Berwick Street, then filled with music stores in the popular neighbourhood of Soho. The men in the photo were suppose to be the infamous Gallagher Brothers Noel and Liam, frontmen for Oasis. As the story goes they were both too hung over (or still drunk) for the 5:00AM shoot so the band's art director James Cannon (he’s the guy in the beige jacket on the right) alongside another survivor from the previous night’s drinking session, London DJ Sean Rowley stepped in. You can also spot album producer Owen Morris in the background, holding the record’s master tapes over his face. This album is the 5th highest selling album in U.K. history. .
My shot, although not taken at 5:00AM was taken around 10:30 and this man to the right was drinking his beer on the street.... Maybe Liam or Noel finally showed.
THE ROLLING STONES ~ BETWEEN THE BUTTONS
The world' oldest boy band The Rolling Stones shot this cover in 1967 in Primrose Hill. I guessing you would have had to been there to actually figure out just where in the park they shot this cover as the photo is blurred and the trees are 50 years older, just like the boys.
DAVID BOWIE ~ THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
For Bowie fans this location has as much significance as Abbey Road does for the Beatles. This cover with Bowie in a onesie was shot in 1973 outside 23 Heddon Street, a small side street just off Regent Street. The pedestrian street today is lined with cafes with lots of potted plants (that ruined my attempt at a decent shot).
One of London’s most famous bands in the 70's was The Clash. The photo for their self titled debut studio album was taken in 1977 on the trolley ramp outside Rehearsal Rehearsals in the Stable Market in Camden where the band was recording. The building is now home to Proud Gallery and the trolley ramp (now steps) are still there for fans to re-create the cover, which they do.
Here is the original photo taken by Kate Simon.
Finally I thought I would finish not with an album cover but rather what is widely excepted as the first ever music video.
Bob Dylan ~ Subterranean Homesick Blues
The filming took place on 8th May 1965 in a alleyway behind the luxury Savoy Hotel where Bob Dylan was staying. Subterranean Homesick Blues was filmed to be used as a trailer announcing the upcoming documentary film Don't Look Back about his recent tour. Hanging out with musicians Joan Baez and Donovan, they helped write the signs on cardboard from laundry shirts with intentional spelling mistakes and puns. The man in the background with the shawl is poet and writer Allen Ginsberg and a good friend of Dylan. The famous video has been much imitated and parodied over its 50 years.
I have only scratched the surface when it comes to London and Rock 'n Roll history. But I look forward to further exploring some of the famous and infamous places where music history has been made in this incredible city. If you have any stories be it well known or obscure about London and the music scene...I'd love to hear them. To quote David Bowie, I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring.