Lately I've been flicking through a book called "The Beatles' London". It actually gives more information than anyone could humanly want about every location in the capital where the Fab Four played, recorded, were interviewed, stayed, lived, worked, went out to eat or listen to music...
In an attempt to come to terms with the subject, I went along this morning to London Walks' "Magical Mystery Tour" which, as I was hoping, presents some of this information in a more digestible form, taking in as it does a handful of the major venues in a leisurely two-hour stroll. I've done these walks before and always find them good value at £7 a pop. I do tend to find myself heavily outnumbered by foreign tourists though.
Almost all of the stories which the guide told were ones I'd heard before but it was nice to be reminded of them. I hadn't realised though that I'd walked past Trident Studios many times without knowing it and that it was here that not only the Beatles laid down tracks like "Hey Jude", "Dear Prudence" and "Martha My Dear", but also that many early Bowie and Elton John singles and "Walk on the Wild Side" (amongst others) were all recorded.
Nor did I realise exactly where that 1969 roof-top performance happened. In June 1968, the Beatles commandeered number 3 Savile Row as Apple headquarters and it became a social centre for friends, fans and fellow celebrities as much as a set of offices for serious business matters. Frequently riotous goings-on over the following four years--chronicled in a book by "house hippy" Richard DiLello--did little to endear the band to their straight-laced pin-striped-suited neighbours and they reached a head on 30th January 1969 when the band spontaneously decided to go up to the roof to play songs from what became their Let It Be album (see below). The local constabulary--still stationed less than 500 yards up the street--pulled the plug twenty minutes into the show.
No tour of London Beatles locations would be complete etc etc... and, sure enough, to end the tour we hopped on the Jubilee Line to the Abbey Road studios. The Beatles made the vast majority of their recordings here so there's no doubt that this is the location which had the greatest influence on the band's music. There's not much to see from the outside though, apart from a wall where fans are encouraged to scrawl ill-conceived tributes, a blue plaque reminding everyone that one Edward Elgar was laying down some wicked tracks at Abbey Road a cool thirty-three years before the Beatles jumped on the bandwagon...oh and there's "that" zebra crossing.