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The history of Camden’s music scene and venues

Camden’s influence on the music industry is undeniable. Read all about Camden's music scene, and why it's the go-to destination for music lovers.

The heart of cultural reform

Camden’s influence on the music industry is undeniable. From Madness, Jay-Z, Amy Winehouse to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, everyone who’s anyone has played at at least one of the historic Camden music venues. With its rock roots dating back to the 60s, this segment of London is a mix of older and contemporary venues. But it’s not just rock music that Candem is known for, although its role in the London punk scene cannot be ignored.

Whether you’re interested in where to see today’s upcoming bands, or want to find out more about the artists firmly cemented in Camden’s history, keep on reading to discover more about music in Camden town.

Camden Music
Where to see today’s upcoming bands, or find out more about the artists firmly cemented in Camden’s history, read on!

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The history of Camden Town

Camden became what it is today during the 1960’s, where it was the centre of a cultural revolution. Prior to this, it was a crowded cluster within London which housed gin distillers, wine merchants, piano manufacturers and more. At the end of the working day, these merchants would spend their evenings in pubs, mixing with other classes and cultures, contributing to Camden’s diverse and vibrant scene.

Camden Town music history

Then came the revolution of rock music, and Camden’s iconic Roundhouse at the centre of cultural change (more on this later). Moving into the 70’s, London’s punk scene came about when The Ramones performed at the Roundhouse, one of the earliest moments for Camden town’s punk history.

But punk music isn’t all that Camden is known for. It was also Amy Winehouse’s stomping ground, and let’s not forget about their renowned food market. With each Camden music venue bursting to the seams with history, we’ll explore some of the fan favourites below.

The Roundhouse, Camden

The Roundhouse in Camden is steeped in musical and political history. Dating back to the 1800s, this building began as a railway repair shed, and didn’t become a music venue until 2006. The history of the Camden Roundhouse actually began in the 60s, where the building was the place to be for those rebelling against societal norms at the time.

In the 1960s, The Roundhouse became a cultural hub. From circus shows to theatre and dance performances, the centre helped bring the arts to the lower classes. It was during this time that Pink Floyd - who were little known at the time - hosted an all-night rave, and Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Fleetwood Mac and many more artists would go on to perform on this stage.

Nowadays, it isn’t just music this music venue is known for. The Roundhouse’s Young Creatives programme gives aspiring musicians the chance to get involved with a variety of projects, expanding their skills and meeting people within the industry. Bands can also rehearse and record in The Roundhouse’s rehearsal studios. These opportunities can propel young and upcoming musicians to great heights in the future, introducing the world to the next generation of music.

Electric Ballroom, Camden

Established in the 1930’s, Electric Ballroom is one of the biggest music venues in Camden. Following a bombing in 1941, the venue expanded into a ballroom, where the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Clash and Paul McCartney’s Wings rehearsed throughout the seventies.

The Electric Ballroom certainly had some of the most memorable gigs in Camden town history. In 1985, after The Jesus and Mary Chain finished playing their set, the audience demanded an encore, throwing glasses at the ceiling, destroying strip lights and tipping over amplifiers.

Electric Ballroom’s club nights became popular throughout the 90’s, when another memorable gig also took place. This included Liam and Noel Gallagher walking on stage, singing three Oasis songs before being joined by Ocean Colour Sing for a rendition of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper’.

Electric Ballroom’s Camden history continues, welcoming both big names and the latest artists through its doors. Visit the electric ballroom's website to see who’s next on the stage.

Camden Music
If you’ve booked to see your favourite artist headline at KOKO, then Stay Central is the place to stay! We offer short and long stays, and we have bed and breakfast options.

KOKO music venue

KOKO in Camden has changed many times over the years. Starting as Camden Theatre in 1900, the building was later renamed to Camden Hippodrome, with the likes of Charlie Chaplin performing. In 1964, The Rolling Stones recorded their iconic album ‘Camden Theatre 1964’ in this very building.

The venue was then reborn as The Music Machine in 1977, becoming a hotspot for the London punk movement. Here saw some of the UK’s greatest rock bands perform, including Sex Pistols and Iron Maiden. Moving into the 80s, The Eurythmics performed as well as Madonna - her first UK performance.

The KOKO club became the epic music venue that we know today in 2004. The 19th-century building was transformed into the modern, 21st-century Camden venue, showcasing sold-out shows such as Coldplay and Kasabian, which featured a surprise visit from Noel Gallagher.

KOKO Camden’s list of star-studded gigs is never ending. Prince, Ed Sheeran, My Chemical Romance, Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chilli Peppers have all played electrifying sets at this music venue.

If you’ve booked to see your favourite artist headline at KOKO, then Stay Central is the place to stay. Just a 13-minute tube journey away, our Georgian apartments are well equipped with everything you need for a night in Camden town. We offer short and long stays, and we have bed and breakfast options - just what you need the morning after! Browse our website today to find out more about our London accommodation.

The Dublin Castle, Camden Town  

One of the most famous pubs in Camden is Dublin Castle, whose history is rooted in legend. Originally opening its doors to railway workers, Dublin Castle has had some of the greatest grace their stage. It’s mostly known for Madness, who performed regularly back when they were rising stars, as did many of the Britpop extraordinaires. From Amy Winehouse to Blur, The Killers, and Arctic Monkeys, the list goes on.

Despite only having a capacity of 200, Dublin Castle hosts four live bands each week and has been family-run for 28 years. It’s a top venue for indie music and is thought of as the place to play for rising stars, with many musicians finding success later on.

But that’s not the only reason why it’s a destination for music lovers. Dublin Castle brings a homely atmosphere to Camden town, with a great beer selection and DJs after the bands perform, you can sip a pint in this friendly pub, watching the world go by.

The Jazz Cafe, Camden

Bringing something slightly different to Camden’s music scene is The Jazz Cafe. Opened in 1990, this award-winning cafe is home to the very best of jazz, reggae, funk, hip-hop, blues and soul. A mix of upcoming and established names have taken to its stage, including Amy Winehouse, Adele, Jamiroquai, Bobby Womack and Roy Ayers.

What makes The Jazz Cafe in Camden so popular is its atmosphere. If jazz music manifested into a swinging hotspot, then The Jazz Cafe would be it. This ornate, intimate venue has a capacity of 500, plus a restaurant which overlooks the stage, so you can sit back, relax and let the tunes carry you away.

Before paying a visit to this venue, there are a few things you should know. The shows are for those aged 18 and over, so make sure you carry some ID. And, even though the elegant interior may suggest otherwise, the Jazz cafe has no dress code, so no need to worry about looking the part.

See a gig at Camden’s music venues with Stay Central

Camden is a music lover’s paradise, and booking centrally-located accommodation means that you can spend as much time as you want amongst the heart of London’s music scene. From self-catered rooms to a B&B service, you’ll have all you need for your stay. Whether you’re visiting London by yourself, with one other or a group of friends, we’ll ensure that you’re well looked after throughout your stay. To explore our rooms and find out more, contact us today and our friendly team will be happy to help.

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