South West London:
the musical

A Musical Tour of South West London; Home is Where the Music is
Musicians in South West London and why the area has been so musical.

As a long time (0-26) inhabitant of Barnes/Sheen in SW London, one of the most common
reminders of the musical history of the area is a house on The Terrace next to the river
which bares a plaque commemorating the composer Gustav Holst (The Planets),
who lived in the house between 1913-34.

Holst, who was born in (place), lived at 23 and 31 Grena Road in Richmond
before moving to 10 The Terrace, Barnes (1908-13) where a plaque was unveiled on
Thursday 25 April 1963. According to H Charles Hailstone (Richmond and Twickenham Times,
Sat 27 April 1963) the years Holst spent in Barnes were “amongst [the] most prolific”.

Hailstone suggested that it was the views over the river and into Chiswick that inspired Holst
to write so much music in no 10. He composed 2 psalms for chorus and string orchestra,
2 suites for military band, more hymns from the Riga Veda* for chorus & orchestra and
a 1 act opera (Salvitri). Imogen Holst, the composer’s daughter (b …), a musician
in her own right, noted in her biography of her father (Gustav Holst, 1938, OUP) that
he used to “walk over to Sheen Common in the hopes of finding a little peace”.
Holst taught at St Pauls girls school in Hammersmith from 1904. He went on to write
a work in homage to Hammersmith, which is also on the river.

Imogen Holst, the composer’s daughter (b …) and a musician in her own right, noted in her biography
of her father (Gustav Holst, 1938, OUP) that he used to “walk over to Sheen Common in the hopes
of finding a little peace”. Gustav Holst taught at St Pauls girls school in Hammersmith from 1904.
He went on to write a work in homage to Hammersmith, which is also on the river.

Another, perhaps more famous, musical inhabitant of South West London is Mick Jagger
of the Rolling Stones who has lived/lives on Richmond Hill. The Mystery Jetslive(d)
in Twickenham. Crispian Mills (twitter, facebook), Kula Shaker frontman
was born in Hammersmith and also spent time in Hampton.

"In 1986, Gilmour purchased the houseboat Astoria which is moored
on the River Thames near Hampton Court, and transformed it into
a recording studio.[9]  The majority of the two most recent Pink Floyd
albums, as well as Gilmour's 2006 solo release
On an Island, were recorded there."

(Mabbett, Andy (2010). Pink Floyd - The Music and the Mystery. London:
Omnibus,.ISBN 9781849383707. quoted on wikipedia, accessed 16 Jan 2011)

The Olympic Impact of Barnes

A famous music venue (google map) in Barnes is the world famous jazz pub
The Bulls Head which becamea jazz venue in 1959 and has hosted such musicians as
Humphrey Littleton’s band. Incidentally, this is only a stones throw Holst's 'The Terrace'.

In this first 'chapter' I'd like to assess the impact of Olympic Studios in Barnes, South West London.
It became a studio in the late 1950s and closed in 2009. The sucess of a studio depends on
a number of factors, most importantly the staff, the equipment and the space(s).

Why did musicians choose to record their music at Olympic? Some of the studios users may
have used it simply as they lived nearby; Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, both of
whom then lived in nearby Barnes (?), recorded Evita there in 1976. Rice explained in 1996;

“I became very attached to Barnes, where the Olympic Studios still thrives,
having first got to know SW13 in 1970, when we recorded Jesus Christ
there. I now live just down the road from Olympic”
(Rice, T., Evita; 20th Anniversary Edition, RCA, 1996)

Maybe Olympic’s choice of engineers contributed to its success. Rice further explained that
‘David Hamilton Smith, the recording engineer was virtually a third producer. His prime asset
is that he is a very funny man, but his impeccable work at the desk was crucial.’ (1)

'The Mix Suite has been the home of numerous top singles & albums over the last 5 years
since it was opened. A joint venture between Mark ‘Spike’ Stent & Olympic, the room
incorporates a 64 channel SSL 4000G Series console, extensive outboard equipment
including ProTools. Views of the garden & full use of the beautifully refurbished
conservatory & kitchen add to the experience. Recent clients include Madonna,
Linkin Park, No Doubt and Wheatus." (

"Each studio has its own separate lounge which, together with our restaurant, garden
and tennis court/5-aside football pitch, provide much required R&R"

Brian May was born in Hampton and attended Hampton School
Brian May in Kew?

Queen recorded parts of their album The Miracle at Olympic Studios in 1989 but they also
recorded music from this album in The Townhouse Studios (London) and Mountain Studios
(Montreaux, Switzerland) so perhaps the band didn’t feel that Olympic catered to all of their needs.
Which parts did they record at Olympic? By 1991’s Innuendo, (the year Freddie died),
the band apparently favoured Metropolis Studios in London over Olympic.

Roy Orbison lived in Wimbledon.

Half Moon pub/venue in Putney.

My own experiences
I studied music at Shene School (now Shene International School), Richmond Upon Thames College,
Surrey University Roehampton (formerly Roehampton Institute and now Roehampton University)
and Kingston University. At least 2 of my fellow students from Shene (& RUTC) are pursuing
music interests; one (Chris) as a jazz singer, another (Jo Caleb) as a jazz guitarist & teacher
as well as helping to run JazzTalent, a jazz music agency with his wife (a singer),
of which the Chris is a member. Since becoming involved with transit station
(after finishing my study at Kingston) I have met other musicians who live
in the area (Kingston Upon Thames).

I became aware of the Richmond Music Trust whilst working with Sheen Mount School
as a pianist in 2005. The trust works with children within schools to
encourage and help them with learning music.

Richmond Upon Thames

"Tommy Steele, the fifties singer, was perhaps the first rock musician to move to Richmond.
Steele's house is outside Richmond town, not far from seventeenth century Ham House.
The Rolling Stones have a long association with the area that started with residencies
at the Crawdaddy Club (opposite Richmond Station) in 1963 and Eel Pie Island in
Twickenham. Years later Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall bought a house on Richmond Hill
overlooking an impressive view of the Thames. Mick's fellow Stone, Ron Woods,
at one time owned John Mills' favourite house "The Wick" on the Hill." accessed 20 July 2010

The Fades -

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones -

Pete Townshend of The Who / Soloist -

Mollie King of The Saturdays -

Kingston Upon Thames

The Cricketers - Grey Horse - Fighting Cocks - The Peel - Rose Theatre

About Me












*Hindu holy book