London’s music credentials are well-documented and we’ve now got more than our fair share of plaques (official and otherwise) to commemorate the artists and musicians that have made their name in the city. Here are some you should seek out.
BY SIAN MEADES
One of London’s most famous plaques is Jimi Hendrix’s. You’ll find it on Brook Street in Mayfair, the site of the rock star’s former lodgings, where he liked to sink rosé and watch Coronation Street (really). The flat is now part of a joint Handel-Hendrix experience, worth checking out. And you can also have (at least, you could pre-lockdown and hopefully can again when it finishes) a Jimi Hendrix experience in London.
Farrier House in Deptford was the block of flats where Dire Straits played their first gig in 1977. Just by the bridge on Creek Road, it’s not the only PRS music heritage plaque around Greenwich — Squeeze also have one to commemorate their first gig two years earlier in the building that now houses the Greenwich Dance Agency on Royal Hill.
Mod group Small Faces are commemorated on Carnaby Street (once upon a time it was more than just chain shops and tourists). The plaque was installed in 2007 and unveiled by founder Kenney Jones. The band had a huge influence on Britpop, and without them, it’s entirely possible that no one would have been rudely awakened by the dustmen.
John Lennon was first Beatle to have a plaque erected in London; it was in Baker Street, althoug that was replaced in 2013 with a plaque to remember both Lennon and Harrison. Macca has his own outside the Old Justice pub in Bermondsey. It looks like it’s been stuck on with putty, and it probably doesn’t recall McCartney’s finest moment. But a plaque’s a plaque, right?
Tommy Steele is a little older than some of the musicians on the list, but his musical legacy is an important one — he was one of Britain’s first rock ‘n’ roll teen idols. You can find his blue plaque in Bermondsey on George Row.
So convincing was David Bowie as his 1970s alter ego, Ziggy has his very own plaque. Indeed Heddon Street, just off Regent Street, is where the iconic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album cover was shot. When Bowie died in January 2016, fans came flocking to pay their respects.
2i’s Coffee Bar
Arguably the birthplace of popular music, 2i’s in Soho originally started out in Old Compton Street, where this plaque is now to be found. The first band to play here were The Vipers in 1956, and this is the venue where Tommy Steele was discovered. Entry used to cost a shilling — something a few music venues around London could take a lesson from. The rest, as they say, is history.
Pink Floyd met at Westminster University while it was still Regent Street Polytechnic, where they performed at college parties under the less catchy name, Sigma 6. Their plaque is just outside the Regent Street campus. For such a psychedelic act, their plaque is somewhat black.
Bob Marley and The Wailers
Head to Neasden if you want to see Bob Marley’s plaque. He lived here (that’s right, Bob Marley lived in Neasden) with the other Wailers in 1972, when they were touring with Johnny Nash. The plaque is fastened to a residential home on The Circle in NW2.
PRS plaques are awarded for first gigs and Spandau Ballet earned their plaque in 2014, for their 1979 debut at The Blitz Club in Great Queen Street. Siouxsie Sioux and Billy Idol were in the audience that night. The venue, sadly, is no longer. Why this plaque is not gold — GOLD! — we don’t know.
The Bee Gees
We finish up where we started; the Gibb brothers have a plaque at Brook Street, just down the road from Jimi Hendrix. It’s not the only plaque to commemorate the band’s contribution to music: they’ve got one in Oxford and one on the Isle of Man, too, show-offs.
What’s your favourite rock ‘n’ roll plaque? Which other musicians with London connections should be remembered with one? Sing us a song in the comments.
Last Updated 02 June 2020