Beatles London Walking Tour, London

Beatles London Walking Tour (Self Guided), London

Perhaps one of the most famed and influential bands of all time, whose music has transcended generations, The Beatles continues to be a source of entertainment many decades after the group was formed (1960) and split up (1970).

"The Fab Four" – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – all came from Liverpool, but London was indeed their home-base. As the band's popularity grew, they headed to the British capital, heart of the UK’s recording and entertainment industry. The city became a trampoline for their shows and overseas ventures, but also to many of their relationships, marriages, and enterprises.

There are quite a few places in London where you can still find traces of the Beatles, such as Marylebone Station featured in the opening scene of their “A Hard Day’s Night” movie; the 34 Montagu Square property rented out by Ringo Starr to Paul McCartney, John Lennon and his girlfriend Yoko Ono, where McCartney recorded several songs; The London Palladium Theatre – the birthplace of the term “Beatlemania” coined after the intense fan frenzy during the Sunday Night show in October 1963; and 3 Savile Row where the band had their last public performance on January 30, 1969.

If you're keen to learn more about The Beatles in London, take this self-guided walk to some of the Fabs' most famed locations in the capital.
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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: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • MPL Communications – 1 Soho Square
  • Trident Recording Studios
  • NEMS Offices (Beatles-era site)
  • London Palladium
  • Bag O'Nails (Beatles-era site)
  • 3 Savile Row (site of Beatles' final live performance)
  • 57 Wimpole Street (Paul McCartney's former residence)
  • 94 Baker Street (former site of Apple boutique)
  • 34 Montagu Square (Lennon's & McCartney's former residence)
  • Marylebone Register Office
  • Marylebone Station
  • London Beatles Store
MPL Communications – 1 Soho Square

1) MPL Communications – 1 Soho Square

Since the late 1950s, Soho has served as a popular gathering spot for London's emerging pop stars. It's also where you can locate Paul McCartney's MPL Communications, his music publishing company since 1970, situated in an elegant 18th-century building at Number 1 Soho Square. What's not widely known is that McCartney holds the title of the world's largest independent song publisher, with ownership rights to over 3,000 songs and Broadway shows, including Buddy Holly's catalog. While accountants handle the management of his musical assets, he supervises various creative endeavors.

Additionally, there's a recording studio in the basement, an exact replica of EMI No. 2. While fans aren't permitted to visit the premises, this is where you might catch a glimpse of Macca himself during your London tour. As is his custom, he can be either remarkably elusive or surprisingly accessible depending on his mood.

If you happen to pass by at night and the curtains are open, you'll be treated to a view of the upper floor office adorned with a wall entirely covered in gold and platinum records.
Trident Recording Studios

2) Trident Recording Studios

Trident Studios, founded in 1967 by siblings Barry and Norman Sheffield, offered a relaxed ambiance that contrasted with traditional studios like EMI at Abbey Road, where sound engineers donned white coats. Notably, Trident was also at the forefront of engineering innovation, becoming the first in the UK to embrace Dolby technology and install an 8-track recording console. Unlike the conservative engineers at Abbey Road, who rigorously tested new equipment for months before using it for recording, Trident immediately put it to use as soon as it could be plugged in. It was mainly for the latter reason that The Beatles decided to abandon their Abbey Road studio and opt for Trident when recording "Hey Jude" in 1968. Individually, each of the Fab Four also pursued solo recording careers at Trident.

Following The Beatles' endorsement, Trident rapidly rose to prominence as one of London's most sought-after studios. It played a pivotal role in recording much of the defining music of the 1970s and served as the launchpad for legendary artists such as David Bowie, Queen, and Elton John. The studio was also frequented by renowned musicians like Lou Reed, Carly Simon, Genesis, Supertramp, and Black Sabbath, among others. Currently operating under the name Trident Audio Post, it continues to function as a recording studio.
NEMS Offices (Beatles-era site)

3) NEMS Offices (Beatles-era site)

An abbreviation for North End Music Stores, the NEMS organization was overseen by Brian Epstein, occasionally referred to as the "fifth Beatle". Back in Liverpool, the Epstein family-owned NEMS music store was the largest of its kind, and it was here that numerous inquiries about "My Bonnie" by The Beatles were received. The store consistently placed orders for the record, and it always sold out immediately, capturing Brian Epstein's attention and piquing his interest in the band.

Upon becoming The Beatles' manager, Epstein conducted most of the behind-the-scenes work for the band's success at his NEMS headquarters in London, formerly known as Sutherland House. The relocation of NEMS from a less prominent street to a prime location next to the London Palladium in 1964 reflected The Beatles' rapid rise. Epstein worked at the site from 1966 until his passing in 1967.

Notably, it was also at this venue that The Beatles frequently conducted interviews with the press and where John Lennon famously remarked, "We're more popular than Jesus", suggesting that the popularity of rock music might surpass that of Christian faith. Initially, his comments didn't generate much controversy when first published in the London press; however, when republished in the United States, they elicited strong reactions from Christian communities. Epstein made efforts to mitigate the controversy through a series of press conferences, while Lennon apologized and clarified that he wasn't comparing himself to Christ.
London Palladium

4) London Palladium

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. With an audience of 15 million television viewers, The Beatles delivered renditions of "From Me to You", "I'll Get You", "She Loves You", and "Twist and Shout". Their press officer recalled that following the Palladium appearance, he no longer needed to actively contact the press to generate interest in the band; instead, the press began reaching out to him.

The papers of the following day recounted scenes of frenzied fans both inside and outside The Palladium. One publication even coined the term "Beatlemania", which, contrary to some beliefs, was more than mere enthusiasm for The Beatles. During the height of Beatlemania, teenagers attempted to breach police barricades, and individuals frequently fainted. The cleaning staff at theaters dreaded Beatles concerts because fans would lose control to the extent of involuntary urination. Any subsequent "mania" that has been discussed pales in comparison to the genuine Beatlemania that truly ignited the world.

By 1964, The Beatles had permeated every facet of life and seemed to be everywhere. Their dominance was inescapable, and they reigned over nearly every aspect they touched. The "mania" began to wane toward the end of 1965 and ultimately subsided around 1970.
Bag O'Nails (Beatles-era site)

5) Bag O'Nails (Beatles-era site)

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. Positioned on 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. Their union, less than two years later, is commemorated with a plaque marking their initial encounter. 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...
3 Savile Row (site of Beatles' final live performance)

6) 3 Savile Row (site of Beatles' final live performance)

In the course of The Beatles' career, this served as the headquarters for Apple Records, and glimpses of the basement are showcased in the latter part of the band's documentary film "Let It Be". Perhaps more famously, on January 30, 1969, during the lunchtime hours, this very building was the stage for The Beatles' final live performance ever. The 5-song, 42-minute set was comprised of material eventually released on the "Let it Be" album the following year. This momentous performance marked the conclusion of an era, as the 1960s were drawing to a close and the band all but broken up in a matter of months.

The unannounced concert was itself broken up by the police, conveniently stationed just a few doors down on the same block, who filed numerous noise complaints from nearby offices. The last member of the band to address the crowd before being cleared away was John Lennon, who famously quipped, "I hope we passed the audition."

Presently, the site is just a photo op outside a clothing store; however, the UK and London have duly recognized its historical significance by installing a plaque about halfway up the building's façade. Outside it still is remarkably the same as featured in the movie "Let it Be", and the police station down the road remains in place, so one can get the feeling of time standing still.
57 Wimpole Street (Paul McCartney's former residence)

7) 57 Wimpole Street (Paul McCartney's former residence)

In the midst of Beatlemania's fervor in 1963, this is where Paul McCartney took up residence, remaining a guest of the affluent Asher family for nearly three years. He was given a room at the top rear of the house – almost a self-contained apartment complete with a bed, comfortable chair, record player, and a small piano.

During his stay, while in a relationship with Jane Asher, who was then 18 years old, Paul composed many of The Beatles' most renowned songs. Among them was their debut American number one hit, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", the genesis of which occurred in the basement – Jane's mother's music room. "Yesterday" was also apparently written there on the family piano, after Paul famously awoke from a dream with the melody in his mind and promptly wrote it down. It's worth noting that the song has been covered more times than any other in the history of recorded music.

In 1968, Paul's relationship with Jane Asher came to an end when she returned from a trip to the United States and found him in bed with another woman. Shortly thereafter, they publicly announced the termination of their engagement. Paul soon entered a relationship with the photographer Linda Eastman, who would eventually become his wife... and, within a year of this transition, The Beatles disbanded.
94 Baker Street (former site of Apple boutique)

8) 94 Baker Street (former site of Apple boutique)

This location marked the Beatles' initial foray into Apple ventures, which, as described by Paul, was intended 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 entrusted a trio of Dutch designers (who later became known as "the Fool") with a sum of £100,000 to conceptualize 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, leading to the mural being covered with whitewash (presumably still concealed beneath the paint).

The boutique itself opened its doors in December 1967, with a grand launch party attended by John Lennon and George Harrison, accompanied by their wives, as well as notable figures like Eric Clapton, Cilla Black, Kenneth Tynan, and others. Surprisingly, guests were seen sipping on apple juice since the shop lacked an 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, perpetrated by both customers and staff alike. A mere eight months after its inauguration, the Beatles grew disillusioned with the venture and decided to shutter down, retaining the best of the remaining merchandise for themselves. On the morning of Tuesday, July 30, 1968, they threw open the doors for a last time, inviting the public to help themselves to the remaining stock.
34 Montagu Square (Lennon's & McCartney's former residence)

9) 34 Montagu Square (Lennon's & McCartney's former residence)

At 34 Montagu Square, fans can snap a photo of a John Lennon English Heritage Blue Plaque. This property was acquired by Ringo Starr in 1965 and subsequently rented out to Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix. Later, in 1968, it became the residence of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who occupied the basement and ground floor during their stay.

It's the place where the famous couple famously posed for the iconic nude photograph used as the cover for their "Two Virgins" album, and it's also where, on the morning of October 18, 1968, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were apprehended by the Drugs Squad. Unsurprisingly, Detective Sergeant Norman Pilcher, who led the operation, had made a name for himself by targeting musicians, including Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, and Eric Clapton.

Interestingly, 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 informed him that sniffer dogs had found cannabis resin in various hiding places, such as a binoculars case, a film can, and a cigarette roller, amounting to roughly half an ounce in all.

Lennon and Ono were marched through crowds of photographers outside and were transported by police car to Paddington Green. There, Lennon sought counsel from EMI's Sir Joseph Lockwood, who provided guidance on how to navigate the situation with the police.
Marylebone Register Office

10) Marylebone Register Office

During the "Swinging Sixties", Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman exchanged their marriage vows at this location, amid scenes of hysterical grief from Paul's female admirers. None of the other Beatles attended the ceremony, but what was intended to be a relatively low-key wedding on March 12, 1969, quickly ignited a media frenzy as hundreds of fans swarmed the newlyweds. McCartney's third marriage – to Nancy Shevell – occured at the same venue in 2011. In the 1980s, fellow Beatle Ringo Starr also celebrated his wedding 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. After undergoing a £60 million refurbishment and expansion, it resumed hosting marriages, civil partnerships, and baby-naming ceremonies in January 2017.
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, providing an ideal setting for filming without disruptions. On the first Sunday in April 1964, a horde of over a hundred screaming fans were filmed chasing after The Beatles, while on the following Sunday, the band acted in the deserted station without any onlookers.

The young girls fervently chasing after The Beatles in the scenes were extras, but they were also genuine Beatles enthusiasts, requiring no persuasion to pursue the band. During the filming of the train sequences, it was here that George Harrison first crossed paths with Patti Boyd, who was an extra at the time. This chance meeting eventually led to their marriage, and she later experienced the peak of The Beatles' popularity alongside George.
London Beatles Store

12) London Beatles Store

Located adjacent to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, this is a fun stop for Beatles fans. The shop features a pleasingly spacious interior with a couple of rooms brimming with merchandise, making the offerings at Abbey Road Studios pale in comparison. The assortment spans from posters to apparel, mugs, games, and enamel pins, along with a diverse collection of books.

It's worth noting that the shop's items tend to come with a somewhat steep price tag, although occasional sale items may catch your eye. Moreover, there's a London Beatles store website where online orders can be placed, but a visit to the physical store holds more appeal thanks to the knowledgeable and exceptionally helpful staff. A worthwhile stop for ardent Beatles enthusiasts!

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