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The Beatles In Swinging London

Beatles in Swinging London

Join the Beatles in London from the comfort of your own home for the unique interactive experience.

This online tour is a unique opportunity to Imagine The Beatles and the swinging 60s in London’s West End, and meet other fans from all over the world, from the comfort of your own home.

Roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour – Step right this way!

It is a virtual tour of the Beatles’ London haunts: visit theatres, offices, recording studios – and public toilets(!!) associated with the ‘Fab Four’ in the Soho and Mayfair areas of London, in an era when The Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus Christ’ (John Lennon).

‘A splendid time is guaranteed for all’

  • their Apple offices, where the group played the famous ‘rooftop session
  • Paul McCartney’s officeswhere Paul can be seen occasionally
  • the well known London theatre which became ‘birthplace’ of Beatlemania
  • the site of John’s infamous ‘bigger than Jesus’ interview
  • what John Lennon was doing outside some public toilets in 1966!
  • the studio where Hey Judewas recorded
  • the shopping street that was the heart of ‘Swinging London’

 

This is a live online tour, and that there will be a Q & A session at the end. It is a great opportunity to meet fans from around the world!

Beatles in London rocknroll virtual tours

For more virtual tours and online experiences, visit our home page 

I am Richard Porter, author of the book Guide to the Beatles London; writer and presenter of The Beatles’ London’ DVD; and a guide of 30 years experience. I was the President of the London Beatles Fan Club for 10 years and was a former winner of the ‘Beatles Brain of Britain’ competition. I organised the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, and was on the committee that erected a blue plaque to commemorate the Beatles famous ‘Rooftop concert’ at 3 Savile Row. In short, I am Super Fanatical Beatles Fan!

Richard Porter with Paul McCartney, Abbey Road, 1997

Richard Porter with Paul McCartney, Abbey Road, 1997

Beatles in London West End

Beatles in London Soho/West End


Where would you go in London in 1960s if you are in search of risqué excitement and want to be with the ‘in crowd’ of rock musicians, pop artists and fashion trend setters? Soho, of course. The area of Central London between Tottenham Court Road and Piccadilly Circus buzzed with sparkling energy of clubs, coffee bars, ‘dedicated followers of fashion’, theatres and other places of entertainment, including the ones that gave the area its reputation as London’s ‘red light district’.
The area started growing as London’s fashionable aristocratic residences in the 17th century. It took its name from its history even before then – a former Henry VIII’s hunting ground, when the forests were filled with the shouts of ‘soho’, but the hunters in their excitement.
Echoes of its hunting past – and of its many historic antics – are depicted on the Spirit of Soho Mural, which appeared in 1991 on the corner of Broadwick Street and Carnaby Street. Historic worthies like revolutionary Karl Marx, composer George Frederic Handel, poet William Blake are huddled together with Italian playboy Casanova, Groucho Brothers and jazz musician George Melly, among theatres, markets, fashion stores and international cuisine, presided over by St.Anne, – a church in her name being the centrepiece of the area.
For a Beatles fan, even a quick glance at the mural invokes a Beatles connection – Sgt. Pepper’s cover design, with young Mozart, Karl Marx, Casanova, Theresa Cornelys as centrepiece!
The Beatles connections with Soho can make the subject of several tours. Being at the heart of music and trend setting in the 60s, the Fab Four regularly came here for fun and work.
In the 1950s Soho was a music trailblazer, with venues like Club Evelen, where modern jazz was first performed in the UK, traditional jazz 51 Club, the London Skiffle Centre, – also the first in London, The 2i’s Coffee Bar – one of the first rock clubs in Europe. Theatres, clubs and bars were interlaced with sex shops and striptease clubs. Beatniks, Mods and aspiring musicians of all kinds gravitated to Soho.
John Lennon had a laugh at the private members club, which were catering for the Swinging London crowd. In the 1966 comedy sketch by comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore John welcomes visitors to the ‘Ad Lav’ club – men’s toilets in Broadwick Street, ‘follow your nose, when entering’! It was a pub on the Ad Lib, where the Beatles and other rock stars used to gather.
The London Palladium theatre saw the birth of Beatlemania in 1963, and the NEMS Enterprises headquarters next door were where the Beatles came on many occasions, including the ill fated interview where a ‘bigger than Jesus’ quote from John Lennon sparked a hate campaign in the USA, which ultimately lead to the end of touring for the group.
Soho even had its own recording studio – in 1968 the Sheffield brothers set up Trident Studios in St. Anne’s Court. A progressive alternative to the traditional approach to recording techniques of EMI’s Abbey Road, it flourished after the Beatles came here in 1968 to record Hey Jude and some White Album tracks. The rest of the street was part of the Soho red light district – with brothels and strip joint lining the street.
Just across the road from Soho, No. 3 Savile Row was the headquarters of the Beatles’ company Apple, which saw the Beatles in the final years of the group, and the eventual breakup – but not before the last live concert on the roof!
Paul McCartney returned to Soho, albeit the confines of the respectable Soho Square. When Paul formed his company MPL in 1970s, its’ offices were at No. 1 Soho Square – between the headquarters of film giant 20th Century Fox and British Board of Classification – UK’s official film censor. Even now Paul is often in the area when he is in London, and I was lucky to meet him several times when he was going in and out of his office.
And if you are in Soho, be sure to drop to a place close to George Harrison’s heart – just around the corner from Soho Square, on Soho Street, is Govinda restaurant. It is run by the Radha Krishna Temple, whose London headquarters are adjacent to it.
With Crossrail building works and ‘gentrification’ threatening to take over the old spirit of Soho, looking into the history of the Beatles in the area helps preserve its unique cultural heritage and discover the secrets of its turbulent and exciting past.
Spirit of Soho Mural

Spirit of Soho Mural

MPL Office, Soho Square

MPL Office, Soho Square


 

This is me, Richard Porter, on the roof of No.3 Savile Row, the famous venue for the last ever Beatles live performance. In January 1969 the Beatles were filming what became Let It Be. Having done hours of footage of them recording in the studio, the Beatles decided to finish the film with a live show – on the roof of their offices! It was a cold and windy day, and the noise from the wind in the sensitive microphones was ruining that idea. Alan Parsons (then a junior engineer and now a famous star) was sent to the local branch of Marks and Spencer’s for a solution. Can you guess what it was? Find out what it was – and many more stories of the Beatles in London – on the Beatles in Swinging London Virtual Tour

Richard Porter on the roof of Beatles Apple Offices

Richard Porter on the roof of Beatles Apple Offices in Savile Row, London

Beatles at Savile Row London

The plaque on 3 Savile Row to commemorate the Beatles ‘Rooftop concert’


End of the Beatles – but a new beginning for Paul McCartney
In April 1970 Paul McCartney gives an interview to himself which is included with the ‘McCartney’ album, in which he drops a bombshell – he is leaving the Beatles!
At the same time he announces the formation of MPL – McCartney Productions Ltd, (not McCartney Paul and Linda as some people say). Paul had great plans for his solo career, and MPL was to look after all of this affairs, financial as well as creative.
From 1976 the MPL’s headquarters have been at No.1 Soho Square. The company has grown into a huge empire – in addition to looking after Paul’s interest, MPL owns the publishing rights to a huge music catalogue, covering 100 years.
Paul has his own office, with big windows overlooking the tranquillity of Soho Square. He is often seen in the area, and I met him on many occasions. This is the photograph of Paul and Lynda I took in June 1983
I share the stories behind the impressive façade of MPL communications on my virtual tour.
Paul and Linda McCartney in Soho Square, London

Paul and Linda McCartney in Soho Square, London


On 26th December 1966, the Christmas Special of ‘Not Only….. But Also….’ starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore was broadcast. The show was a send up of an American TV reporter, played by Peter Cook, sent to the UK to find ‘Swinging London’

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John Lennon on Not Only, But Also

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The Beatles recorded ‘Hey Jude’ at Trident Studios, St Anne’s Court, Soho, London, on July 31st 1968. It was one of the very few times that the Beatles recorded away from EMI Studios at Abbey Road.

Trident Studios, London

Trident Studios, London


On 13th October 1963, the Beatles appeared on a TV show called Val Parnel’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

The birth of Beatlemania!

On January 12th, 1964, the Beatles made their second appearance on the top TV show ‘Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium.


 

Brian Epstein Plaque

Brian Epstein Plaque


London Pavilion

London Pavilion


According to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and most Beatles books, they first met at the Indica Art Gallery on November 9th 1966, at Yoko’s art exhibition. John and Yoko always asked about how they met, and often told the same story, but did embellish it a bit over time. However, were all the facts correct?

 

Former Indica Art Gallery

Former Indica Art Gallery

Yoko Ono at Indica Art Gallery

Yoko Ono at Indica Art Gallery