We’ve all seen the open top London tour buses (or at least those of us who have been to or seen a photograph of London have), but the tour I went on last week had quite a different spin. In the mini bus with a handful of other writers, our tour guide took us on an alternative tour of London, but one no less true to its history: The London Rock Tour.
Why, you ask? Well all in celebration of the DVD release of Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese’s HBO series, Vinyl.
Though the series is set in New York, the tour guide tells us, the scene in London was much the same in the 60s and 70s. Musicians lived in the basements of the rich, drinking, jamming, and being, shall we say, recreational? That and everybody wanted to be friends with Eric Clapton. Let’s be fair, I still want to be friends with Eric Clapton.
Despite the crappy weather, we were whisked around Chelsea (the original music scene, apparently) and up King’s Road, whilst being shown all the secret haunts of the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles (many of which I have stored in my memory banks ready to show off when out and about in the City).
Immersing ourselves into Soho next, we saw the land of the new creatives, as well as stopping for a drink in the tiny basement of the Toucan, where Hendrix himself played way back when.
It’s easy to forget the rich rock history of places like London and New York when you’re surrounded by Starbucks and Wetherspoons, but it’s not hard to peel back a layer and enjoy the slightly hidden venues, clubs, apartments and studios where such huge artists rose to fame.
Rumour has it that if you bribe a certain shop owner on Denmark Street, he’ll show you the adjoining recording studio where many stars have left their mark in crude doodle form on the walls…
Fun fact, too – the piano Freddie Mercury played on Bohemian Rhapsody was the same piano Paul McCartney played on Let it Be. I wonder how much that Steinway would be worth today…(I don’t know that it was a Steinway for sure but…don’t you think?)
By the end of the tour it became pretty apparent that at one point or another, a Rolling Stone has lived in every house in London. One of which we saw up close and personal. It had a red door…rumour has it, they wanted to paint it…some other colour. I forget which.
Get gritty and real with the series, and then go find the haunts where the scenes really happened – rock will never be dead. It lives on in infamy in the old back rooms of London flats.
VINYL – SEASON 1 IS OUT ON DVD & BLU-RAY NOW!