Beatles London Walking Tour (Self Guided), London

Though all four members of the Beatles heralded from Liverpool, it's pretty fair to say that they were based in London – the centre of the UK’s recording and entertainment industry. Since early in their career, it had become obvious that they had to be as close as possible to their manager's NEMS Enterprises office, Abbey Road, as well as to the BBC and the beckoning world of film-making. London was the jumping-off point for their shows and overseas ventures, but also to many of their relationships, marriages, and enterprises. This self-guided walk takes you on a tour of some of the Fabs' most famed London locations.
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Beatles London Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Beatles London Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • MPL Communications – 1 Soho Square, London
  • Trident Recording Studios
  • NEMS Offices
  • The London Palladium Theatre
  • Bag O’Nails– 9 Kingley Street, London
  • 3 Savile Row, London
  • 57 Wimpole Street
  • 94 Baker Street
  • 34 Montagu Square
  • Marylebone Register Office
  • Marylebone Station
  • London Beatles Store
1
MPL Communications – 1 Soho Square, London

1) MPL Communications – 1 Soho Square, London

MPL Communications is Paul McCartney’s music publishing company since 1970, headquartered here at Number 1 Soho Square in an elegant 18th-century building. Not many people know it, but McCartney is the world's largest independent song publisher, owning rights to more than 3,000 songs and Broadway shows, including Buddy Holly’s catalogue. While accountants administer his musical properties, he oversees various creative projects.

There's also a recording studio in the basement (an exact replica of EMI No. 2) and although fans are not allowed to visit the premises, this is where you might catch a glimpse of Macca himself during your tour of London (as usual, he might be highly elusive or surprisingly accessible as the moods takes him).

Pass by at night and, if the curtains are open, you'll see a wall completely covered in gold and platinum discs in the upper floor office.
2
Trident Recording Studios

2) Trident Recording Studios

Trident Studios was set up by brothers Barry and Norman Sheffield in 1967. Its laid back atmosphere was a departure from traditional studios, like the EMI at Abbey Road, where sound engineers used to walk around in white coats. More importantly, Trident was the engineering pioneer of its day – they were the first in the UK to use Dolby and install an 8-track recording desk. The conservative Abbey Road engineers would spend months on testing new equipment before it was used for recording, but at Trident it was straight in use as soon as it could be plugged in.

It was mainly for the latter reason that The Beatles were determined to abandon their Abbey Road studio for the recording of "Hey Jude" in 1968, as well as for other songs. Separately, the Fab Four have all recorded music here in their respective solo careers.

After the Beatles gave it kudos, Trident became one of the most popular studios in London and was used to record much of the truly defining music of the 1970s. It was the launchpad for many legendary artists such as David Bowie, Queen, or Elton John, and was booked by the likes of Lou Reed, Carly Simon, Genesis, Supertramp, and Black Sabbath, among others.
Currently named Trident Audio Post, it still is a functioning recording studio.
3
NEMS Offices

3) NEMS Offices

Standing for North End Music Stores, the NEMS organization was run by Brian Epstein – sometimes referred to as the “fifth Beatle.” Back in Liverpool, the NEMS music store owned by the Epstein family was the biggest of its kind and it was there that numerous inquiries about “My Bonnie” by The Beatles have been made. The store repeatedly ordered copies of the record and they always sold out instantly, which made Brian Epstein take notice and become interested in the band.

Upon becoming the Beatles’ manager, Epstein's NEMS headquarters in London (former Sutherland House) is where most of the behind-the-scenes work going into the success of the Beatles took place. The move of NEMS from a less visible street to the prime spot – next door to the London Palladium – in 1964 reflected the Beatles' rapid success. Epstein worked at the site between 1966 and 1967 (until his death).

Notably, it was also at this location that the Beatles often held interviews with the press and where John Lennon infamously stated "We're more popular than Jesus”, arguing that Christian faith was declining to the extent that it might be outlasted by rock music. His opinions drew no controversy when originally published in the London press, but drew many angry reactions from Christian communities when republished in the US. Epstein attempted to quell the dispute at a series of press conferences, while Lennon apologized and explained that he was not comparing himself to Christ.
4
The London Palladium Theatre

4) The London Palladium Theatre

The Beatles made their debut on the top variety show of the time, Sunday Night at The London Palladium on October 13, 1963. The Palladium was, and still is, London's most famous theatre, and the show was one of the absolute moments of the band's undeniable fame.

Watched by 15 million TV viewers, the Beatles performed “From Me to You”, “I’ll Get You”, “She Loves You”, and “Twist and Shout”. Their press officer recalled that after the Palladium appearance he no longer had to contact the press to get them interested in the band, because the press started contacting him.

The papers the following day reported scenes of screaming fans inside and outside The Palladium and one of the papers coined the phrase, “Beatlemania” – which was not, as some may have thought, just ‘being enthusiastic about the Beatles’. At the height of Beatlemania, teenagers tried to run through police barricades and people regularly fainted. Cleaning staff at theatres used to dread Beatles concerts because fans would lose control to the point that they involuntarily urinated. Every “mania” that everyone has talked about since is not anything compared to Beatlemania which really did ignite the world.

By 1964 the Beatles were everywhere, they were pretty much inescapable and dominated everything they could dominate. The “mania” began to tail off towards the end of 1965, and finally came to an end around 1970.
5
Bag O’Nails– 9 Kingley Street, London

5) Bag O’Nails– 9 Kingley Street, London

In "Swinging Sixties" London, the Scotch of St. James and the Ad Lib were the top draws for London's rock aristocracy, but the Bag O’Nails surfaced nevertheless as one of the hot clubs of the later part of the decade. Situated at 9 Kingly Street, it’s less than 100 feet from Regent Street – one of London’s busiest, most famous shopping streets – yet so inconspicuous it might as well be hidden anywhere.

The place where Jimi Hendrix played his second London gig, Bag O'Nails was one of The Beatles' favourite venues in 1967-68. Paul McCartney actually had his own private table here and he met his future wife, Linda, at the club on 15 May 1967, when both of them attended to see Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames perform. They married less than two years later and there is a plaque now marking their first meeting.

Attesting to these facts are the two memorial plaques in the doorway for the Beatles fans to check out. As for the bar itself, it shut down in October 2018 but may reopen eventually as a new members' club, called The Court. Remains to be seen...
6
3 Savile Row, London

6) 3 Savile Row, London

* Site of the Beatles’ Last Live Performance

During The Beatles' career, this was the location of the Apple Record headquarters, with footage of the basement having been featured in the second half of the band's “Let It Be” film.
Perhaps more famously, on January 30, 1969, during the lunchtime hours, it was on top of this building that the Beatles played their last ever live performance. The 5 song, 42 minute set was comprised of material eventually released on the “Let it Be” album the following year. It marked the end of an era, with the 60s soon drawing to a close and the band all but broken up in a few months.
The unannounced concert was itself broken up by the police (stationed on the same block, just a few doors down!), who filed numerous noise complaints from the nearby offices. The final member of the band to speak before being cleared away was John Lennon who said, “I hope we passed the audition.”

Today, the site is just a photo op outside a clothing store; however, the UK and London have given it the historical recognition it deserves by placing a plaque about halfway up the front of the building.

Outside it still is remarkably the same as featured in the movie “Let it Be” and the police station down the road is still there, so one can get the feeling of time standing still.
7
57 Wimpole Street

7) 57 Wimpole Street

In 1963, at the height of Beatlemania, this is where Paul McCartney moved into and stayed for almost 3 years as a guest of the upper-class Asher family. He was given a room at the top of house at the back – almost a self contained apartment with a bed, easy chair, record player and small piano.

While living here with his then 18 year old girlfriend, Jane Asher, Paul wrote many of the Beatles’ most famous songs including their first American number one “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, which was conceived in the basement – Jane’s mother’s music room. “Yesterday” was also apparently written there on the family piano, after Paul famously woke up from a dream with the tune in his head and wrote it down. The song has been covered more than any other in the history of recorded music.

Paul eventually split from Jane Asher in 1968 when she came back from a trip to the US to find him in bed with another woman. Not long after this, they announced the end of their engagement and he soon started seeing the photographer Linda Eastman who would eventually become his wife... and, within a year, it was the end of The Beatles.
8
94 Baker Street

8) 94 Baker Street

Site of the Beatles' first Apple venture which, in Paul's words, was to be “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things.”
How it all started is not very clear, but in September 1967 the Beatles gave three Dutch designers (who became known as the "Fool") £100,000 to design and stock their new Apple boutique.

Across the entire front and side of the store, a huge psychedelic mural was painted in hippie fashion – with rainbows and other psychedelic imagery – before complaints from local merchants were made and the mural had to be whitewashed over (it's presumably still there under the paint).
The boutique itself opened in December 1967, with the launch party attended by John Lennon and George Harrison with their wives, as well as Eric Clapton, Cilla Black, Kenneth Tynan, and others, who were seen sipping apple juice as the shop had no alcohol license.

The stock was mostly comprised of fashion garments and accessories aimed at young people – all at the cutting edge of hippie chic – but turned out to be a financial disaster because it was instantly plagued with shoplifting, carried out by both customers and staff.

Only 8 months after the boutique opened, the Beatles got fed up with it and closed it down, taking the best of the remaining stock for themselves. On Tuesday morning, 30 July 1968, they threw open the doors and invited the public to help themselves to the rest.
9
34 Montagu Square

9) 34 Montagu Square

At 34 Montagu Square, fans can snap a photo of a John Lennon English Heritage Blue Plaque. The property was bought in 1965 by Ringo Starr and was rented out to Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix – and then later on, in 1968, to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who lived in the basement and the ground floor during this time.

It is the location where the couple took the famous nude photograph for the cover of their “Two Virgins” album, and was also where, in the morning of 18 October 1968, the couple were arrested by the Drugs Squad. Unsurprisingly, detective Sergeant Norman Pilcher, who handled the bust, built his drug squad career targeting musicians, including Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, and Eric Clapton.

Lennon had been tipped off a few weeks earlier by a journalist that Pilcher had him next on the list and he had the flat meticulously cleaned. He was dumbfounded when the police told him that sniffer dogs had found cannabis resin in various hiding places, such as a binoculars case, a film can, and a cigarette roller, totaling about half an ounce in all.

Lennon and Ono were marched through crowds of photographers outside and were taken by police car to Paddington Green. There Lennon spoke to EMI's Sir Joseph Lockwood, who gave advice on how to deal with the police.
10
Marylebone Register Office

10) Marylebone Register Office

In the Swinging Sixties, Paul McCartney exchanged vows with his beloved Linda Eastman here, amid scenes of hysterical grief from his female fans. None of the other Beatles was present, but their supposedly-low-key wedding – on March 12, 1969 – quickly sparked a media frenzy as hundreds of fans mobbed the newlyweds. McCartney's third marriage – to Nancy Shevell – took place at the same venue in 2011. In the 80s, his fellow Beatle, Ringo, also got married here.

Loved by stars for its photogenic architecture and central London location, the Old Marylebone Register Office has more than its fair share of rock ‘n’ roll wedding history and is the city’s busiest register office, having resumed hosting marriages, civil partnerships and baby-naming ceremonies in January 2017 after a £60 million refurbishment and expansion.
11
Marylebone Station

11) Marylebone Station

If you want to truly walk in the footsteps of John, George and Ringo, head to Boston Place (along the right side of the Marylebone Station), the setting for the opening scenes of “A Hard Day’s Night”. The station's distinctive iron and glass canopy is clearly visible in the movie – perhaps more so than the platform itself, where the three were filmed running down to catch a moving train.

The station was closed to the public on Sundays, allowing the band to film the necessary scenes without interruption. On the first Sunday, in April 1964, a horde of over 100 screaming fans were filmed chasing after The Beatles, while on the second they acted in the empty station without any crowds.

The girls hotly pursuing the Beatles were extras, but they were also Beatles fans, and they did not need to be persuaded to chase the band. While shooting the train sequences, George Harrison first met Patti Boyd, an extra at the time who later married him and experienced the height of the Beatles' popularity.
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London Beatles Store

12) London Beatles Store

Located just by the Sherlock Holmes Museum, this is a fun stop for Beatles fans. The store is a nice size and features a couple of rooms filled with merchandise, making the offer at Abbey Road Studios pale in comparison. The selection is from posters to clothing to mugs, games and enamel pins, with a nice variety of books as well. Fairly pricey shop, of course, but one may spot a few items on sale, too. There is also a London Beatles store website where you can order online, but a trip here is more worthwhile for the knowledgeable and very helpful staff. A good stop for the ardent Beatles fan!

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