By Raghad Tmumen
South Kensington and High Street Kensington is basically the hub for all of us Richmond students. Some of us go to the museums quite frequently as we take courses on the High Street campus.
Though, have you ever wondered what mystical secrets these places hold?
Aside from being utterly rich and full of tourists, both South and High Street Kensington have many music associations that I bet some of you never knew. Or maybe you have! Either way, here are the places I know and have visited throughout my time in London, which are associated with music.
1: The Royal Albert Hall
Imperial College Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2AP
If the walls of the Royal Albert hall could speak, boy the stories it could tell. The hall was built in the mid 1800’s with the first concert held on May the 1st 1871.
Yes- really, really old place but a beautiful building it is.
The Royal Albert Hall is known to have hosted all of the Proms since 1941 until our day today 2016. Proms this year was fantastic- a lot of great artists came to perform, if you are interested.
Anyways, that’s not my topic to talk about. Let’s talk Rock N Roll.
Many great musicians like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, B.B King, The Beach Boys, etc, have performed at the iconic venue. Though the thing that makes me laugh is that most people would come and perform their last final tour (boo-hoo). Cream, the band is an example; the guys disbanded late 1968 performing at the Albert Hall for one of their final gigs. Their opening acts were- drum roll, please! Rory Gallagher’s Taste, the newly formed Yes, and finally, believe or not, Deep Purple. Imagine how cool that must have been; Cream, Eric Clapton playing his Gibson ES 335 Cherry Red custom model, Ginger Baker loud magical African beats on the drums or the late Jack Bruce, thunder like bass that vibrates through your body. I mean, it’s Cream- nothing can ever go wrong. Expect if the sound system failed, that’s another topic. Anyway, Cream reunited 2005 for again another comeback, which I believe was a 5-date tour at the Royal Albert Hall. Eric Clapton will be yet again returning to the venue in May with 3 nights. I don’t know why he is doing it, but it I do know I have to get tickets.
2: The Science Museum
Exhibition Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2DD
How the hell is it associated with music? Bear with me folks, you have to sit down for this. According to Jeff Beck (1 of 3 best based UK guitarists) said in an interview for Sky Arts Talk Music, he and Rod Stewart met in front of the museum. Jeff has then been fired a year ago from the Yardbirds during their US tour in 1966 and replaced by Jimmy Page (oh dear!) who was asked to join the group by Beck himself as a bass player. Rod Stewart, on the other hand, was wandering sad and lonely, “wearing women clothes” as quoted by Beck, after Steambucket disbanded. Both guys agreed to form a band in front of the museum and later went in to see what new creations had been set inside the magical castle that is the Science museum.
The band had also Today’s Rolling Stones Lead guitarists Ronnie Wood. How cool! The band disbanded in 1969.
3: Imperial College of Science
Kensington, London SW7 2AZ
Did you know Brian May of Queen use to study at the university? What care does come of such thing? But you do care when I tell you Queen was originally founded and formed in that little campus in south Kensington. The band started as Smile, with Brian May on lead guitarist Roger Taylor on drums and finally Tim Stiffil on lead vocals. However, during that time, very young Freddie Mercury would come by and see their shows on the university stage and support the group. When Stiffil took off Freddie made sure to step in and take the lead. By 1970 Queen I was born! First album released by EMI.
How can a small place hold so many great tales? Another fun fact; Freddie Mercury use to work with at-the-time girlfriend and later long-time-best-friend Mary Austin at a second-hand bohemian clothes shop in Kensington market.
Imagine yourself in the sixties walking by the market and casually buying a embroidered jeans or a silk scarf from Freddie Mercury. “Aha kids, I remember the time Mercury used to sell clothes at Kensington, before he was an international superstar. “
4: Bill Wyman’s Sticky Fingers restaurant
1 Phillimore Gardens, Kensington W8 7QB
Yes, yes you heard that right! Bill Wyman, who is celebrating his 80th today October the 24, has his own restaurant in High Street Kensington.
The place is great, full of pictures and memorabilia. When you walk in, you see some of Ronnie Wood’s artwork on the walls, photographs of the Stones during live performances, and some Blues giants like Muddy Waters and Big Bill Broonzy.
There is a large A1 poster, I believe, of one of Big Bill Broonzy 1950’s performances in the UK.
You can also find two of Bill’s bass hanged alongside Brian Jones 1956 gold top Les Paul Guitar. Not to mention, music is great, you’d hear the likes of Sunshine Superman, Donovan, Prince, and a bit of Austin blues’ finest, Gary Clark Jr.
If you are a music fan in general, then this place is great. The food is alright but the music experience is the best of the best.
5: Freddie Mercury 4 Logon Place (Earls court)
Logan Pl, Kensington, London W8 6QN
Yes, yes, I’m a Queen fan, and a London trip won’t be complete until visiting his place. Only a station or two from South Kensington tube station, Freddie’s house is not that far from Earl’s Court station, 10 to 15 minutes walk, maybe less, depends on how fast you walk. From excitement, I sometimes run! (Joking) Unfortunately, you won’t be able to go inside, but be able to see the outside. However, you’re able to lay tributes on the singer’s wall (where labeled!), even flowers if you wish. On some occasions, like anniversaries and other celebrations, you’d find many people gathered around the house celebrating the late singer’s life. It’s a really cool place to be, you’ll meet so many great people from all over the world while visiting the place.
There are many more music related places in South and High Street Kensington- if you have any other places in the area for a music fan, then please do mention them. I’d more than happy to know many other music related destinations.
*One more thing before I leave, here’s a little tune for you all to enjoy and know what it was South Kensington (and other London streets) like in the 1960s.
Donovan, “Sunny South Kensington” (1967)