Saturday morning I went for a cycle ride around some of my old haunts in search of all things, The Beatles. I met up with a couple of old friends I had not seen in a while. Neither of them own a Brompton but this did little to dampen the general enthusiasm for cycling around London.
My musical tastes do seem to be firmly in the 1980s and of the heavy metal persuasion. I do however have a soft spot for The Beatles. One example is when 25 years ago I signed the register with Mrs Orange we had a duo singing 'Let it Be.' No matter what your opinion about them as people individually, their originality and incredible talent at writing what could be regarded as timeless songs is undeniable.
There are definitely many more locations associated with The Beatles but I stuck to the ones that I knew about and tried to choose a route that sort of flowed. At each stop I played a short excerpt of certain tracks that seemed appropriate.
Abbey Road Studios
I had to start this somewhere so for me Abbey Road was an easy decision. The studios were opened in 1931 with Sir Edward Elgar conducting a piece of his own music that was being recorded. Originally it was a large Georgian townhouse on the footpath leading to Kilburn Abbey. How times have changed! The Beatles recorded almost all of their albums and singles there between 1962 and 1970.
|This gets painted over very few weeks|
Up the road a little, is possibly the most famous zebra crossing in the world - and now Grade II listed. It was used as the cover for the 1969 album, 'Abbey Road.' Finding a time when this crossing isn't busy with fans from all across the world is a hard ask. Sticking ones Brompton in the middle of it and taking a photo, I'd liken to one of the twelve labours of Hercules believe me!
Sir Paul McCartney bought this three-storey Regency townhouse in 1965, moving in almost a year later. Songs including 'Penny Lane' 'Hey Jude' and 'Getting Better' were apparently written there. The house is still owned by Sir Paul and in the time of The Beatles it was used as a base for the group before and/or after they were recording at Abbey Road not far away.
On 5th April 1964, The Beatles filmed the opening scene for their film 'A Hard Day's Night' at Marylebone Station. A week later after completing the chase scene, they returned to complete the required scenes.
Westminster Register Office - formerly Marylebone Registry Office
On 12th March 1969 Sir Paul and Linda Eastman got married. Fellow Beatle, Ringo Starr married Barbara Goldbach twelve years later. Zoom forward to 2011 and Sir Paul tied the knot all again when he married Nancy Shevell.
Apple Boutique - Baker Street
The Apple Boutique (nothing to do with the computer and iPhone company) was a retail store in a building on the corner of Baker Street and Paddington Street. Opening in December 1967 it closed at the end of July the following year. It was one of the first business ventures by The Beatles with the concept that everything in it was for sale. The original building was demolished to be replaced with what stands there today. A Heritage Foundation blue plaque highlights John Lennon's and George Harrison's involvement with the shop.
34 Montagu Square
The ground floor and basement flat was once leased by Ringo Starr during the 1960s. Sir Paul worked on several songs there including 'Eleanor Rigby.' For a few months John Lennon and Yoko Ono rented the flat, taking photographs that would eventually be used for their 'Two Virgins' albums. On 18th October 1968 the flat was raided by the Drugs Squad with both being arrested. There is now a blue plaque outside.
57 Wimpole Street
During Sir Paul's relationship with Jane Asher he lived there during 1964 - 1966. It was here that he wrote, 'I want to hold your hand' and 'Yesterday.'
HMV Store, 363 Oxford Street
Opened in 1921 by Sir Edward Elgar - who obviously got around as he opened Abbey Road Studios ten years later) - it closed in April 2000. Beatles producer Sir George Martin unveiled a blue plaque that commemorated the part it played in the history of the group when in 1962 a 78 RPM demo disc was cut in the studios there.
Bag O' Nails Club, 9 Kingly Street
In the 1960s this was a live music club and meeting location for musicians. Some rather famous names in addition to The Beatles frequented it including: Jimi Hendrix, The Animals, The Who, Tom Jones...the list really does go on and on. The reason I paid a visit to it was because on 15th May 1967 Sir Paul met his future wife Linda Eastman - as she then was.
The start of Beatlemania. The London Palladium, Argyll Street
The London Palladium is a rather famous theatre and on 13th October 1963, The Beatles who had been growing quite dramatically in popularity through the year with three hit singles, 'Please Please Me' From Me to You' and 'She Loves You.' Televised and watched by millions, when Sir Paul tried to announce the last song they were playing, 'Twist and Shout' the screaming audience drowned him out. That week a national newspaper printed the term 'Beatlemania' for the first time.
Marlborough Street Magistrates Court, Great Marlborough Street
The Grade II listed building is now, The Courthouse Hotel' but back in the 1960s and 1970s it was still a working magistrates court only ceasing to be this in 1998. In 1970 John Lennon was taken to court for exhibiting pictures, in an art gallery down the road in New Bond Street, regarded as being too sexually explicit.
Trident Studios, 17 St Anne's Court
Between 1968 and 1981 many very famous names recorded some equally famous music there: Genesis, T-Tex, Bee Gees, Elton John, Lou Reed, Carly Simon, Queen, David Bowie...there are many more. In fact there is a blue plaque outside highlighting David Bowie and the many albums recorded there. The Beatles association goes back almost to the start when in 1969 they recorded 'Hey Jude.'
Last live performance, 3 Saville Row
In 1968, The Beatles moved their business here and on 30h January 1969 its roof was the setting for their final unannounced live performance known as the 'Rooftop Concert.' It was recorded for the documentary film 'Let It Be.' They were stopped from continuing by the Metropolitan Police who had concerns about the noise and growing crowd. Once they had finished singing 'Get Back' John Lennon said, 'I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition.'
Indica Gallery, 6 Mason's Yard
In November 1966 Yoko Ono held an exhibition 'Unfinished Paintings and Objects' at the Indica Gallery in the basement of the Indica Bookshop above. It was at the preview that John Lennon was to meet he future wife Yoko Ono.
Chapel Street, Belgravia
Number 24 was home to Brian Epstein, the manger of The Beatles from 1965 until his death there on 27th August 1967 at only 32 years old. Surely there should be a blue plaque outside this house?!
As I wrote above, there are so many more locations in London with an association with The Beatles but it was great fun visiting these ones, taking photos, catching up with some old friends and stopping for the odd cup of tea and cake.
Stay safe out there people!