The Beatles' London
Although the John, Paul, George and Ringo hailed from Liverpool, there are plenty of London landmarks for Beatles-lovers to get their fix. From recording studios to concert venues, shops to roof-top performances, London is filled with hot-spots for fans of the Fab Four. For those who are desperate to walk in the footsteps of their favourite fellows, here's our self-guided tour to the Beatles' London.
In January 1965, The Beatles manager Brian Epstein moved into this house in the exclusive London neighbourhood of Belgravia. It was here that the release party for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band took place and, sadly, it was also here that Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose on 27th August 1967.
Whaddon House, William Mews, Knightsbridge, London
In late 1963, Beatles manager Brian Epstein Brian Epstein moved into the top floor apartment here. Not long after, George Harrison and Ringo Starr shared an apartment on the second floor of the very same building and it was here that the Fab Four met before traveling to Buckingham Palace to receive their MBEs. George and Ringo moved out in 1965 but the building remained famous owing to a legendary party hosted by Epstein in 1964. Reportedly in August of that year an event took place that was attended by all four Beatles as well as Judy Garland, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
Has the distinction of being the only home where all four Beatles lived at the same time - all crammed in together in Flat L. The sharing of this flat did not last long as John and Cynthia Lennon and baby Julian moved out as soon as they were able to find their own space.
57 Wimpole Street, London
Home to Sir Richard Asher, 57 Wimpole Street was also the home of his daughter, Jane Asher. The sister of Peter Asher of the 60s singing duo Peter and Gordon, Jane was Paul McCartney’s girlfriend in the early 1960’s and it was at this house where Paul lived during his early time in London. The songs 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' and 'Yesterday' were written there.
94 Baker Street, London
The site of The Beatles' failed Apple Boutique clothing store which opened during the late 1960s. The building was painted in bright eye-watering colours, which led to numerous complaints by the neighbours. They need not have worried through as the shop was a failed venture that lost the band hundreds of thousands of pounds before it was shut down in 1968.
7 Cavendish Avenue, St John's Wood, London
This lavish mansion has belonged to Paul McCartney since 1966. Owing to the proximity to the Abbey Road studios, the Beatles frequently used this house as a meeting place before and after recording. As he owns many properties over the world he is not here all of the time, but it is not unusual to see him in the shops and pubs on the nearby St. John’s Wood High Street. After his divorce from Heather Mills, the paparazzi were camped outside of this house for weeks and occasionally one may find a Beatles fan or two camped outside the imposing brick walls.
A well-known classy hotel on London’s luxury Park Lane, the Dorchester was where the Beatles celebrated the premieres of both their films A Hard Day’s Night and Help.
This was the headquarters of Apple Records, The Beatles' recording company. It was here in the basement that the second half of Let It Be was filmed. Perhaps more famously, on 30th January 1969, it was on the rooftop of this building that the Beatles gave their last ever live performance. The Fab Four performed their latest recordings from their Let It Be album in an impromptu concert that was eventually stopped by police. Lasting only 45 minutes, the final member of the band to speak before the police cleared them away was John Lennon who said, "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and I hope we passed the audition." Apple Records was founded to promote new talent which included Mary Hopkin, famous for her 1968 number one single Those were the Days, and the legendary James Taylor.
In their later years The Beatles had their suits made by Tommy Nutter at Nutters of Saville Row, a short walk from their London headquarters. Nutter also dressed Paul, John and Ringo for the front cover of the Beatles Abbey Road album. George Harrison preferred his own denim outfit he can be seen wearing on the front cover.
Barry Miles, John Dunbar, Marianne Faithfull, Peter Asher and Paul McCartney at the opening of Indica Gallery, 28th January 1966. Photo: Barry Miles6 Mason’s Yard, London
Formerly the site of the Indica Gallery, 6 Mason’s Yard was the location of an exhibition that began on the 9th of November in 1966 by Yoko Ono. John Lennon had been told that the exhibition was worth visiting and when he arrived to this location, he met his future wife! John was reportedly, “expecting an orgy, you know…” but arrived instead to find a quiet room where Yoko was drifting around, rearranging objects as part of her art piece.
The Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London
At the 1963 Royal Variety Show – with both Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret in the audience – the Beatles performed a number of their recent hits. But, more famous than the concert, was the introduction of their final number Twist and Shout by John Lennon, who took to the stage and announced, “For our last number, I’d like to ask your help. For the people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewellery.” After giving a cheeky grin and a thumbs up sign, cameras swiftly moved to the Queen Mother who, on her feet, was seen laughing and waving – highlighting the Beatle’s ability to transcend politics, finance, and international barriers in their rise to the top of musical history.
34 Montagu Square, Marylebone, London
Musician and Songwriter Jonn Lennon (1940-80) lived here with Yoko Ono in 1968. Lennon’s move to Montagu Square in 1968 came at a time of personal and artistic change. One of the biggest influences in his life at this time was the Japanese artist Yoko Ono. They met at the end of 1966 and, developing a relationship born out of shared artistic and intellectual interests, were lovers by May 1968. The basement and ground-floor flat at 34 Montagu Square was the first home that Lennon shared with Ono. Forming part of a grade II-listed terraced house, the apartment has multiple Beatles and pop culture associations: it was bought in 1965 by Ringo Starr, who lived there in October of that year, and was later briefly tenanted by Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix in turn before Lennon and Ono moved in.
They lived there for five months from July 1968, during which time Lennon was creatively very active, working on The Beatles’ self-titled album - also known as the White Album - as well as on early collaborations with Ono. It was at 34 Montagu Square that the famous nude photograph of John and Yoko was taken for the Two Virgins album cover - one which EMI refused to distribute. On 18 October 1968 the flat was raided by police, who found traces of cannabis there. He was subsequently convicted for possession of the drug on 28 November, six days after the White Album was released. It appears that it was while living at number 34 that Lennon began to experiment with heroin, the effects of which he later documented in ‘Cold Turkey’. The media storm surrounding Lennon’s conviction forced the couple to move out of Montagu Square, and by 1971 Lennon and Ono were living in New York.
The London Pavillion, 1 Piccadilly Circus, London
Today an entertainment venue, the London Pavilion saw the premieres of four of five Beatles films: A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine, and Let it Be. The only Beatles film not to be premiered there was The Magical Mystery Tour which was first shown on BBC television on Boxing Day in 1967.
63 Old Compton Street, London
Millings and Son, master tailors, no longer operates but were once know the world over as The Beatles’ original tailor. It was in 1963 at this shop here in Old Compton street that John Lennon asked the tailor for something different. This something different turned out to be the distinctive collarless suits the Beatles became known for. The link between the tailor at the Fab Four was so strong that crowds would often gather outside, hoping to a get a glimpse of the Beatles coming in to collect their clothes. It is possible to spot Dougie Millings in the movie, A Hard Day’s Night, where he has a small part, appropriately, as a frustrated tailor!
1 Soho Square London
Head office of Paul McCartney's MPL Communications Ltd. Founded in 1970 by McCartney himself, MPL Communications not only manages work by Paul but also owns copyrights for dozens of artists, including huge names like Buddy Holly. On 11th April 1970, the day after the Beatles split up, MPL bought the rights to Rupert Bear who was a popular children’s character at the time. Bizarrely the rights to The Beatles music was not owned by the Beatles or MPL. Michael Jackson outbid McCartney for the rights to Lennon/McCartney songs in 1985. Jackson had acquired the rights for between 160 to 260 songs, including Let it Be and Yesterday, paying the princely sum of $47.5 million. This meant that McCartney had to pay royalties to Jackson for performing his own songs. In 2005 Sony paid Jackson $95 million for 50 percent of the rights. However, according to the 1976 US Copyright Act, songs recorded before 1978 can become the property of the song writer after 56 years. This means that once again soon Paul McCartney will own his own music, but he’ll be a very old man.
Photo: The Mirror
The entrance to the gentleman’s lavatory on Broadwick Street was used in a sixties comedy show called Not only ... but also. On the show in November 1966 John Lennon played the doorman to a fictional club that supposedly lay at the bottom of the steps. For the purpose of the sketch he wore wire framed glasses that became his trademark. He was even wearing a pair when he was shot in December 1980. This was the first time he was seen wearing them. In the show the club was called Ad Lav which was a spoof of the popular sixties Ad Lib Club frequented by the Beatles.
Abbey Road is a pilgrimage site for Beatles fans from all around the world. Between 1962 and 1970, almost all their albums were recorded at Abbey Road. Many other bands made ionic albums recorded there but the graffiti on the walls and road sign is mainly for the Beatles. The zebra crossing in the road outside seems more famous than the building itself with people taking pictures of their friends crossing the road, replicating the photograph from the Abbey Road album cover.
Abbey Road Studios has been a recording venue that has seen some of the biggest names in music come through the doors. Pink Floyd, Cliff Richard, Kylie Minogue and – of course – the Beatles all recorded here. During the time of The Beatles, the Studios here were owned by EMI and is today a property of Universal Music. The Beatles didn’t just record their Abbey Road album here, but nearly all of their albums and singles dating from 1962 to 1970 here. The building itself is still used for recordings but it is also a protected building, holding English Heritage Grade II Listed status which means the building will now always be preserved from major alterations and changed in recognition of its’ musical historical impact.
Probably the most famous road crossing in the world, Abbey Road was brought to popular attention when it became the location for the shooting of the cover of The Beatles last album: Abbey Road. For many visitors to London, Abbey road is a must-see and recreating the famous photograph of Paul, George, John and Ringo has been a popular exercise for decades. Originally, Abbey Road was simply another thoroughfare through Northwest London and was primarily used by visitors heading toward Lord’s Cricket Ground. But in 1969, Abbey Road was changed forever when a photograph of the Beatles crossing the road (since it just so happened to be outside the studio where the album was recorded) was used as the cover for their album of the same name.
All four Beatles gathered at EMI Studios on the morning of Friday 8th August 1969 for one of the most famous photo shoots of their career. Photographer Iain Macmillan took the famous image that adorned their last-recorded album, Abbey Road. Macmillan was a freelance photographer and a friend to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He used a Hasselblad camera with a 50mm wide-angle lens, aperture f22, at 1/500 seconds. Prior to the shoot, Paul McCartney had sketched his ideas for the cover, to which Macmillan added a more detailed illustration. As the group waited outside the studio for the shoot to begin, Linda McCartney took a number of extra photographs. A policeman held up the traffic as Macmillan, from a stepladder positioned in the middle of the road, took six shots as the group walked across the zebra crossing just outside the studio.
The Beatles crossed the road a number of times while Macmillan photographed them. 8 August was a hot day in north London, and for four of the six photographs McCartney walked barefoot; for the other two he wore sandals. Shortly after the shoot, McCartney studied the transparencies and chose the fifth one for the album cover. It was the only one when all four Beatles were walking in time. It also satisfied The Beatles' desire for the world to see them walking away from the studios they had spent so much of the last seven years inside. Macmillan also took a photograph of a nearby tiled street sign for the back cover. The sign has since been replaced, but was situated at the corner of Abbey Road and Alexandra Road. The junction no longer exists; the road was later replaced by the Abbey Road housing estate, between Boundary Road and Belsize Road. On 22 May 2012 one of the outtakes from the photography session sold at auction in London for £16,000 ($25,000).
Home of The Bag O' Nails club which was a popular meeting place for famous musicians. Guests used to include: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, The Hollies, The Small Faces, The Animals and Lulu. Paul McCartney (he actually had his own private table) met Linda here on the 15th May 1967 while watching Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames perform. The relationship blossomed when Paul invited Linda to the Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band launch party at Brian Epstein's home.
Tucked away in a small Soho alley is the location of the former Blue Gardenia Club. Although no longer standing, legend has it that this is where the Beatles held their first ever London performance. In the early hours of 10 December 1961, following their disastrous show at the Palais Ballroom in Aldershot. After the show The Beatles got drunk and caused a commotion in the venue. When they emerged at 1am the police were waiting for them. They were told to leave the town and not come back. Having nowhere to stay locally, they drove to London and ended up in the Blue Gardenia Club, run by Brian Cassar, the former frontman of Cass and the Cassanovas. It was a small, little-known venue on St Anne's Court, and the few late-night drinkers present were treated to an unplanned performance by The Beatles.
According to the story, the concert was impromptu (their van driver that evening knew the club would still be open late into the night and might have an empty stage that needed filling) and not all four Beatles were present - George Harrison was at home with the flu! If true, this would make it their first performance in London. It is said that they earned absolutely no money that evening – since in December of 1961 they were still completely unknown! They stayed until about 3am or so and then it was straight into the van for the 9-hour drive back to Liverpool. The Beatles bwere ack at their homes at around midday on 10 December. Later that evening they performed at Hambleton Hall in Huyton, Liverpool.
Trident Recording Studios, 17 St Anne's Court, Soho
A short distance from the Blue Gardenia Club was the tiny Trident Recording Studios where the Beatles, and each Beatle as a solo artist, has recorded. It is also was used by David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Lou Reed, Genesis, Supertramp, Black Sabbath and Queen. These huge names were enticed here by the relaxed atmosphere and the location in the heart of Soho. Trident always had the latest equipment including an 8 track machine that attracted the Beatles to come here in 1968 to record Hey Jude. They also recorded tracks off the White Album here, including Dear Prudence, Honey Pie, Savoy Truffle and Martha My Dear. Hey Jude and I Want You (She’s so Heavy) were also recorded here.
Recording 'Honey Pie'
In 1970 George Harrison’s triple album, All Things Must Pass, with its hit single My Sweet Lord was recorded here, at Abbey Road and at the Apple Studios we saw earlier in Saville Row. It was here that Paul McCartney produced Mary Hopkin’s Those Were the Days in 1968. Mary Hopkins had won Opportunity Knocks, a TV talent contest show of the sixties.
For Beatles fans a visit to the Hard Rock Café doesn’t necessarily need to involve any food or drink! Underneath the shop is a vault which contains musical memorabilia including John Lennon’s original handwritten lyrics for songs like ‘Imagine’ as well as a pair of his glasses. Also of note is the gold record which was gifted to the group when their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band reached $1 million in the United States. Tours of the vault are available.
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, 47 Frith Street, London
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club - A legend on the London music scene, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club sits in the heart of Soho. It was Ronnie Scott himself who played the saxophone solo on the Beatles hit ‘Lady Madonna.’
The British Library 96 Euston Road, London
When thinking of the Beatles, the British Library isn’t a naturally linked location! However, the British Library houses some exceptionally rare Beatles artefacts that are on display and that can be viewed. This includes six manuscripts penned by John Lennon including lyric sheets in his own hand for In My Life, Strawberry Fields Forever and She Said She Said. There is also a letter to Lennon’s friend, former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, and an original Beatles Fan Club membership card. Best of all, this collection is Free to enjoy.
George Harrison, flanked by the joint secretaries of The Beatles fan club, celebrates his 21st birthday at the NEMS offices, February 25, 1964.
NEMS Offices, Argyll Street, London
Standing for North End Music Stores, the NEMS organisation was run by Brian Epstein - sometimes referred to as the fifth Beatle. Epstein was the Beatles’ manager and his headquarters at the building here (Sutherland House) is where all of the behind-the-scenes work going into the success of the Beatles took place. Notably, it was at this location that John Lennon, in an interview with the Evening Standard in 1966, commented that the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus."
Just a few doors down is the London Palladium Theatre where, in 1963, the Beatles gave a concert here that coined the term "Beatlemania." The theatre was swamped by thousands of fans and it is estimated that 15 million people tuned in to watch the performance, which showcased From Me to You, I’ll Get You, She Loves You, and Twist and Shout. The crowds quickly swarmed to the back stage door of the theatre, hoping to see the group as they left but the Beatles were one step ahead ... and left through the front!
20 Manchester Square, London
From 1960 to 1995, 20 Manchester Square was the address of the multinational music recording and publishing company, EMI. This was the company that introduced the Beatles on an international level and also provided promotional materials of the group. The stairwell which is featured on the cover of the 'Please Please Me' album was located inside this building. Photos taken at the same location but at a later date were used for the covers of The Red Album and The Blue Album compilations. Inside the building the Beatles received several awards from EMI owing to their record breaking sales. The doorways here have seen the footsteps of the Beatles dozens of times.
Marylebone Rail Station, Great Central House, Melcombe Place, London
True fans of the Fab Four will recognise as the setting for the opening scenes of A Hard Day’s Night. If you want to truly walk in the footsteps of John, George and Ringo, head to nearby Boston Place (running along the right side of the Station), the road the three are running down at the beginning of the film.
The absolute top-notch Beatles memorabilia store in London. From regular trinkets like keychains, shot glasses and clothing to serious collectors items like rare records and out-of-print magazines – this shop has it all.
Located at St. John’s Wood Underground Station is the Beatles Coffee shop, a great place to grab a drink or a small bite to eat. The shop also boasts a variety of Beatles merchandise to pick up and bring back home for your fab-four-loving-friends.