Here are a handful of the most notable and infamous rock & roll landmarks in the history of the genre – whether they’re still standing, bulldozed, burnt to the ground, or maybe even fictional, each has played a big part in the shaping of rock music over the decades.
Berwick St, London, UK, artwork for Oasis’ (What’s the Story?) Morning GloryBerwick Street, in the Soho district of London, was the chosen location for the iconic cover image to Britpop brats Oasis’ huge 1995 record (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory. The blurry images of two men passing by each other, caught amid the hustle-bustle of midday London, exemplified the album’s context and the time frame in which it was released.
It would become a huge success, bringing Britpop stateside and propelling Noel and Liam Gallagher into notoriety (both for their music and their antics). You can still visit the street today and re-create the iconic image, if you’re so inclined.
The cabin referenced in the B52’s Love ShackThe titular funky little shack was apparently a real thing. As the story goes, a dilapidated cabin in Athens, Georgia, which at one time housed the band’s singer Kate Pierson, is believed to have directly inspired the group’s quirky 1989 hit. Sadly, the cabin burned down in 2004, vandalized by a group of mean-spirited fire-starters. In subsequent news articles, the band hinted that it was indeed THE shack.
The Beverly Hills Hotel (The Eagles’ Hotel California)
For the artwork accompanying the Eagles’ classic (and perhaps overplayed) anthem Hotel California, they chose an image of the Beverly Hills Hotel in picturesque Southern California. What better place to use to go along with a song about the manipulative, twisted, greedy late 1970s music industry than a lavish hotel of the stars nestled under some palm trees? It was almost too perfect.
The Cavern Club, Liverpool UK (The Beatles)
Before the Quarrymen graduated from scrawny teenagers to The Biggest Band In The History Of The World, they cut their teeth playing tiny gigs inside the Cavern Club’s brick-covered walls.
Because of their large volume of pre-Beatles shows there, the club, which is still active today, acts as a venerable Beatles museum, right in the heart of the Liverpool scene they helped popularize.
Chelsea Hotel (Manhattan, NYC)Less of a “rock landmark” and more of THE go-to place for legions of now-legendary musicians and artists, the Chelsea Hotel is a big deal. Housing and inspiring a countless list of notable figures, including musicians Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, authors like Charles Bukowski, Alan Ginsberg, and Dylan Thomas, and scores of fashion designers and visual artists. It was even the famous spot where Nancy Spungen (of Sid & Nancy fame) was stabbed to death in 1978.
The Chelsea Hotel is still functional today, despite closing its doors in August for renovations. Hopefully it stays open forever, considering the absurd amount of rock ‘n roll history that has gone on inside its walls.
Putah Creek, California (Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 Green River)The Green River referred to by John Fogerty on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s song and 1969 album of the same name doesn’t technically exist, but its origins were based in reality. As Fogerty himself tells it, he was inspired by the location of some fond childhood memories. He vacationed there with his family until he was ten, learning to swim, rope-swinging, and a cabin that inspired the song’s reference to Buffalo Bill Cody (Or “Cody Jr.”, as it is mentioned in the song). The “Green River” in question? From a soda label. The end result was one of the band’s most cherished albums of their career.
Hammersmith Palais (The Clash)The Clash’s 1978 single (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais was an important song for the band, demonstrating their ability to branch out from their punk roots into a more exploratory direction. It was specifically tied to Hammersmith Palais de Danse – known simply as Hammersmith Palais – a reggae venue in London.
The song recounts a trip Joe Strummer made to the hall, before shifting gears to cover more weighty (and political) themes. The venue itself, which had opened in 1919, remained functional until 2007.
Mull of Kintyre (Wings)
Paul McCartney and Wings’ tribute to a Scottish peninsula, Mull of Kintyre ended up being the band’s most successful single in the UK in 1977. Its traditional Scottish melody attracted a lot of attention in the UK, but the song failed to really catch on in the United States, relegating it to “regional hit” status. McCartney has stated that he wrote the song because of how much he enjoyed spending time there. A warm, old-fashioned styled music video was shot for the song, featuring Paul, his band mates, and other people walking around its picturesque grassy knolls.
Satan’s Crossroads (Robert Johnson)While there isn’t a definitive, “official” spot where Delta blues legend Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil, this intersection in Clarksdale Mississippi is believed to be one of the possible locations of the deal. There are a number of intersections that purport to be “the spot” where it happened, but Johnson’s Cross Road Blues has gone on to be one of the most celebrated and heavily-covered songs of the blues genre, adding significance and weight to his ominous tale, despite not explicitly concerning the supposed demonic exchange.
“Strawberry Fields” had a specific meaning before it was the name given to a John Lennon memorial in New York. Originally, it referred to an old Salvation Army house in Liverpool that Lennon frequented as a child. He would visit the orphanage and play with his friends, attaching fond memories to his time there. Eventually, those memories would motivate him to compose the song.
Berlin Zoologischer Garten (U2, Zoo Station)
The opening track of U2’s mammoth 1991 album Achtung Baby was consistent with the record’s German inspiration. Bono and the gang felt inspired by the German train station, re-interpreting it as a symbol of the country’s reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The single, which was emblematic of the band’s re-invention on the record, was received well by critics and fans.
Did you know that all of the albums referenced above are available for listening and purchase in our Rock Cellar Record Store?