On March 22, it will be precisely half a century since The Beatles released their first album, Please Please Me. While the soon-to-be pop giants hailed from the northern English city of Liverpool, this pioneering debut record was recorded in the capital London, and the great city would play a major part in The Beatles story over the following years and decades.
To celebrate this significant anniversary, we’ve selected our favorite Fab Four spots in London Town.
This is where the magic happened. A one-time Georgian townhouse in St. John’s Wood, the property was converted into studios in the 1930s and quickly gained a reputation as a hub for rock music. The Beatles had their first recording session here in 1962, and would use the studios to record almost every other single and album during the next eight years. They even named their eleventh album, Abbey Road, after the studio’s street. For those wishing to recreate pop iconography, the zebra crossing from the famous album cover can be found a short walk from the front door of the studio.
The Home of Yesterday
According to Paul McCartney, the entire melody of Yesterday — now the most covered song in pop music history — was composed in a dream at the family home of his then-girlfriend Jane Asher. He woke up, rushed over to the family piano and began playing the tune to avoid forgetting it. He subsequently spent two months reciting it to his colleagues to ensure he hadn’t subconsciously plagiarized it. Today, the house at 57 Wimpole Street still stands; a brick-and-mortar monument to music history.
As well as dominating the pop charts, The Beatles also had considerable big screen success in the 1960s. Many of their most notable movies were filmed on the streets of London, so you can follow in their footsteps by visiting the site of what was once the Scala Theatre — a prominent venue in A Hard Day’s Night — or exploring the luxury suite of the Fab Four on Alisa Avenue, as seen in Help!
The Rooftop Session
On January 30, 1969, The Beatles gave their final public performance. However, rather than deciding to pack out a huge stadium arena or to opt for a worldwide television broadcast, the group thought it would be more innovative to head to the roof of a studio and play an unannounced concert. As the biggest band on the planet, it caused quite a stir, and the so-called “rooftop session” is now a firm part of music folklore. The building still stands at 3 Savile Row, if you want a taste of the fever.
Photos courtesy of Charles Crosbie, Simon Yu, Credit Paul Saunders and Matthew Strmiska