Like many people throughout the World, I love the music of The Beatles. I was too young to see them live in the 1960s, but I started buying their records in the 1970s and I now have at least one copy of almost everything they recorded. I also have a shelf full of books about them. The Beatles are rightly associated with Liverpool as that’s where they grew up and where the group started. There are some excellent Beatles attractions in Liverpool such as The Beatles Story and if you are a fan, then the city is well worth a visit. However, London is where it all happened for the band; it’s where all their songs were recorded and where they became famous. So, if you are in London and are fan of the group, here are some places to visit that are associated with the Beatles.
HMV Store, 363 Oxford Street
Nearest tube: Bond Street
This iconic HMV music store was originally opened in 1921 and is really where the Beatles London story starts. On 8th May 1962, Brian Epstein, the group’s manager, visited the store, which was then owned by EMI. As well as selling records, the store also housed some EMI offices and a small recording studio. Epstein was trying to get a recording contract for the group; he had tried other record labels, but so far had been unsuccessful. On this day, he met an acquaintance of his, Bob Boast who worked at the store. This event, led to a meeting with George Martin, head of Parlaphone Records (another EMI company) at Abbey Road Studios, which led to a recording session and the Beatles getting signed up to the label.
Some of the information above comes from the excellent book; The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970 by Mark Lewsohn which I recommend as it is an extensively researched book using EMI archives and details all the Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to their split in 1970.
Abbey Road Studios, 3 Abbey Road
Nearest tube: St. John’s Wood
Abbey Road is of course where most of the Beatles recordings were made. The studios are closed to the public, but you can take a virtual tour on their website. You can of course see it from the outside and cross the Zebra crossing made famous by the Beatles last recorded album; Abbey Road. Be careful, though, this is a busy road.
The Former BBC Paris Theatre, 4-12 Regent Street
Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus
Between 1962 and 1965, the Beatles appeared on 53 BBC Radio shows performing 88 songs. These sessions were recorded in a number of theatres throughout London, then owned by the BBC. Most of these sessions are now available on CD:
The cover of The Beatles Live at the BBC shows them outside the BBC Paris Theatre in Regent Street which was one of the venues for these sessions. The theatre is now closed, but the building still stands, so you can recreate the picture. For the Beatles fan, the BBC recordings are excellent with many tracks not on any of the EMI albums. The complete set of BBC recordings is also available:
Marylebone Station, Melcome Place
Nearest Tube: Marylebone
By 1964, the Beatles were doing extremely well, so they branched out into movies. Their first film, A Hard Days Night, a musical comedy with the group playing “themselves” was released on 6th July 1964 and was a critical and financial success. The opening scenes were filmed in and around Marylebone Station. The building is still largely the same as it was then.
Former Apple Corps Ltd Office, 3 Savile Row
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
The Beatles founded Apple Records in 1968 to get better control over their output. EMI continued to distribute their records. Apple’s headquarters was located at 3 Savile Row and it was on the rooftop of this building where the band’s last ever concert happened in 1969 as part of the filming of the Let It Be documentary. Apple are no longer at this address, but the building is still there. The documentary is not available on DVD at the moment, but you can still get the album that was recorded at the same time:
The London Beatles Store, 231/233 Baker Street
Nearest Tube: Baker Street
Finally, for Beatles merchandise and memorabilia, you can visit the London Beatles Store just down the road from the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Have a great time following the Fab Four!
If this has got you in a Beatles mood, why not get the complete (remastered) boxed set of the EMI studio recordings:
This really is a fantastic set; I have it myself. It contains all of the 13 original studio albums digitally remastered. Each CD contains a colour booklet with historical and recording notes as well as a mini documentary. Also included is the double CD “Past Masters” which is a collection of singles and EP tracks that didn’t appear on the albums. Finally there is a DVD containing the 13 mini documentaries that appear on theses albums giving a bit of background to each release.
And if you are really serious about finding Beatles sites in London, then you need this book which features 467 of them: