These days Carnaby Street is probably best known as a Central London hub for designer shopping. But for much of its history, this iconic little Soho lane running between equally iconic Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus has been just as (or more) celebrated for its ties to popular music as its connections to the world of fashion.
Now, a new walking tour with free downloadable app called Carnaby Echoes offers shoppers and anybody else in the area the chance to trace Carnaby‘s vibrant music history from the early days of Murray’s Club, a jazz and cabaret club that opened in 1913 on nearby Beak Street, through to the present.
The app brings to life the stories, sounds and performances for audiences as these audio files get activated the content while strolling around Carnaby, walking in the same footsteps left over a hundred years by some of London’s most important music pioneers.
Carnaby Echoes is a commissioned work by artist Lucy Harrison, who bought back musicians connected to the area to talk about their memories. Contributors include Boy George, Pete Townshend, Mark Ellen, Lloyd Coxsone and Dynamo. These memories and stories are captured on film and can be accessed on carnabyechoes.com or by downloading the audio walking tour app which will guide visitors around the plaque locations.
Said Boy George in an interview with Lucy Harrison about his experience with the Echoes project:
It’s an area where you can walk, which is perfect for show-offs… Carnaby Street was like a catwalk. Often people didn’t even buy anything, they just walked around looking amazing. It’s a perfect area, because you’ve got a really good space, lots of back streets, you go to Newburgh Street and then Ganton Street, and then do the whole of Carnaby Street, and everyone would see you.
For decades, Carnaby was the home and inspiration of many music styles, including jazz, reggae, rhythm and blues, rock and hip hop. From the nightclubs to the shops, and the record companies to the magazines,Carnaby has attracted generations of highly regarded musicians and their fans. Of course Carnaby is most associated with the music scene during the Swinging 60s when the area was a mecca for style conscious Mods along with notable frequenters such as John Lennon, Pete Townsend, Brian Jones and Mick Jagger.
For more details and to download the app (for iOS or Android phones) go to carnabyechoes.com.