One of England’s most famous bands, the the Beatles are also arguably one of the most commercially successful bands of all time. They released more than 40 singles and albums that reached #1 in the U.K. In America, they are the best-selling band in the history of the music industry. It’s estimated that the Beatles have sold over a billion tapes, records, and CD’s worldwide.
Even more impressive than their sales record, however, is their cultural impact. The Beatles became popular during a time of immense change. Birth control was changing young people’s attitudes about sex and marriage. Recreational drug use and changes in fashion accompanied these cultural shifts, and the Beatles were at the leading edge of these changes. Their long “mop-top” hairstyles were extremely edgy for the time, and their own drug use was well publicized. There is no doubt that the Beatles led the way to the increased freedom and cultural revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s.
Although they were originally from Liverpool, the Beatles spent a great deal of time in London. If you’re a Beatles fan, here are some sites you won’t want to miss.
Abbey Road Zebra Crossing. The zebra crossing that appears on the iconic cover of the Abbey Road album is located just outside Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles first auditioned for EMI Music. They recorded many influential albums here, including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road.
The EMI House. The staircase that appears on several Beatles album covers, including Please Please Me, the Red Album and the Blue Album, is located in this house at 20 Manchester Square in Marylebone. This house was the headquarters of EMI Music, the Beatles’ record company, from 1960 to 1995.
#57 Wimpole Street. This house figures large in Beatles folklore. It was the home of Jane Asher, Paul McCartney’s then-girlfriend, and her family. When the Beatles first moved to London, McCartney lived in a room in the attic.
Jane Asher’s mother was a music teacher, and she kept a small music room in the basement. It was here that McCartney wrote many songs that went on to become hit singles, including “Yesterday,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
#3 Saville Row. In 1965, the Beatles’ accountant advised them that they would face a £3 million tax bill unless they invested some of their money in a business. They started Apple Corps, an umbrella company whose subsidiaries include Apple Records, Apple Electronics, Apple Films, and Apple Retail.
Apple Corps bought the house at #3 Saville Row to use as its headquarters in 1968. The press office there spent a great deal of money in food, alcohol, and drugs for entertaining guests. At one point, George Harrison invited a group of Hells Angels to live in the guest lounge. At another, a family of nudist hippies moved in.
The Apple Boutique. Located at #94 Baker Street, this was the site of the Beatles’ ill-fated store. It was also the headquarters of Apple Corps while construction was going on at Saville Row. The store sold accessories and clothes designed by a Dutch artistic group named The Fool. The group painted the exterior with a psychedelic mural, which surrounding businesses objected to-the Beatles were forced to have it painted over.
The store’s opening night saw huge crowds, but it lost thousands of pounds over the short course of its life. Shoplifting was a problem; the staff was reluctant to accuse customers of stealing, and they did not have adequate store security. To make matters worse, the staff was also in the habit of taking items without paying. Ultimately, the Beatles announced that the remaining merchandise would be free for all takers. After the store was picked clean, it closed.
Trident Studios. This studio, located at #17 Anne Court in Soho, was the site where the Beatles recorded “Hey Jude” and some of the tracks on the Abbey Road and The White Album. George Harrison also recorded his first solo album, All Things Must Pass, at this location.
#7 Cavendish Avenue. This was Paul McCartney’s home in London in 1966. The spacious house included a music room where McCartney wrote “Hey Jude,” “Penny Lane,” and “It’s Getting Better.”
London is full of places where the Beatles lived, loved, recorded, performed, and slept. For any Beatles fan, the city can be a wonderland of historic locations-if you know the right places to look.