If you were playing a game of word association and someone said ‘The Beatles’, chances are your automatic response would be John Lennon, Paul McCartney or, quite possibly, Liverpool. Yet did you know that Hamburg also claims strong links to the Fab Four, with a dedicated Beatles-Platz – paved black to look like a vinyl record – and Beatles-themed tours around the German city where the quartet stayed and played in the early 60s?
And were you aware that only last month, the Spanish city of Granada inaugurated the Plaza Joe Strummer in honour of the late Clash front man, who spent a considerable amount of time there? Or that the little-known town of Culemborg in the Netherlands plays host to an Elvis Presley Museum?
Perhaps more renowned for its classical music links, it’s a fair suggestion that Europe’s association with the world of popular music often gets overlooked. And yet, be it London, Paris, Dublin or Stockholm, there’s a homage to an icon of pop music just waiting to be discovered.
Possibly one of Sweden’s most famous exports, the long-awaited ABBA Museum finally opened its doors last month in Stockholm, allowing visitors to trace the band’s history, create their own ABBA songs and view costumes and other memorabilia associated with Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid. Open daily from 10am to 10pm, timed tickets are available online at the museum’s website (price SEK 195 for adults, SEK 145 for children) and as you might expect, demand is high!
In Paris meanwhile, the Père Lachaise Cemetery is a place of pilgrimage for those wishing to view the grave of The Doors singer, Jim Morrison, who spent his last days in the city. What’s perhaps most surprising is that the cemetery – also the resting place for Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Chopin – is ranked fourth in Paris’ most visited sites and best of all, it’s free to enter.
Dublin lays claim to its fair share of U2-related landmarks, from concert venues including Slane Castle, The Point Depot Theatre and Croke Park to backdrops for album covers such as the Ha’penny Bridge and Arch in Temple Bar, East Link Bridge and Grand Canal Docks. You’ll also find a lot of U2 memorabilia at the Hard Rock Café whilst Claddagh Records was the venue for much of the recording of Achtung Baby. An absolute must is a drink (or even a stay) at the Clarence Hotel, owned by Bono and The Edge.
And finally, we couldn’t fail to mention the David Bowie exhibition at London’s V&A Museum, the first international retrospective of this singer’s extraordinary career. Running until August 11th (open daily from 10am to 5.45pm; 10pm on Fridays) this fascinating exhibition brings together over 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie’s own instruments.