London is one of the most iconic music destinations in the world, home to Abbey Road Studios, Waterloo sunsets and the birthplace of David Bowie, Ray Davies and Keith Richards to name just a few. Today, its musical culture is as vibrant as ever, and that culture, as always, is enacted in its incredible music venues. From international stars at huge arenas and stadiums to unknowns and next-big-things at open mic nights across the city, wherever you are in London there will be something nearby to suit every musical taste, every day of the week.
Chalk Farm’s Roundhouse is one of north London’s most iconic music venues, having been originally built as a railway shed in 1847. Having fallen into disuse, it reopened as a music venue in 1964 and quickly came to play host to some of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest stars: The Doors played their only ever UK show here in 1968.Since 2006, it has played host to the BBC Electric Proms, and numerous iTunes festivals and awards ceremonies. It continues to attract international stars. Though often associated with the Camden area of north London, the nearest Tube station is actually Chalk Farm; Camden Town is a bit of a walk down the road.
Those of a jazzier disposition would do well to head to Soho institution Ronnie Scott’s. Having operated since 1959, this is London’s most famous and highly esteemed jazz club, and was set up and managed by musos Ronnie Scott and Pete King. International performers began to come here in 1962, and the club has played host to luminaries such as Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and Jimi Hendrix, whose last public performance was here in 1970. The club’s house musicians – Ronnie Scott’s Allstars – have long accompanied solo performers and are famous in their own right, often comprising leading members of the British jazz scene; current members include James Pearson and Sam Burgess. Ronnie Scott’s is easily accessible from The Piccadilly West End, a luxurious choice for cheap accommodation in London .
One of London’s most historic venues is Alexandra Palace. Situated beside the leafy, genteel suburb of Muswell Hill, this beautiful building was originally built in 1873 as north London’s answer to the magnificent Crystal Palace in the south. Like its southern counterpart, it was ravaged by fire, but rose from the ashes to become a prominent centre of British entertainment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1936 it was the centre of the world’s first ever regular ‘high-definition’ televisions service, courtesy of the BBC. Throughout the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, however, its reputation declined and until recently was hosting semi-regular events not befitting of a building with such an iconic status . Happily though, in recent years an extensive programme of redevelopment has been undertaken at ‘Ally Pally’, as it’s affectionately known to Londoners, and now an impressive and ever-growing roster of home grown and international stars are performing at the venue.