5 Revolutionary Musicians from London
London is a city known for (among other things) its ability to produce some of the world’s best musicians. The heart and soul of the city have both inspired and provoked generation after generation. From Led Zeppelin to Queen, and from Elton John to Amy Winehouse, London is the proud home of some pretty exceptional musical talent.
So let’s discover 5 revolutionary musicians from London!
1. Amy Winehouse
Once a simple girl from Southgate, Amy Winehouse quickly became one of the most revolutionary musicians to ever come from London. Naturally gifted, Amy spent her youth in a fine arts school fine tuning her singing and musical abilities. Later on in her teens, Amy took to the stage and created a whirlwind career of legendary proportions.
Amy drew on inspiration from old school Jazz and Blues songs, and developed her own captivating voice – a true mélange between old and new. Hit albums like Back to Black earned Amy multiple Grammy awards as she carved her own place in the music Hall of Fame. Songs about love, heartbreak, and everything in between, barred her soul and gave more than a few nods to the Jazz Age.
In 2011, after a short but vibrant career, Amy’s untimely death due to a long battle with substance abuse shook the music world. But she will be forever remembered as one of London’s most iconic musicians.
While not a musician, but rather a group of them; it’s clear Queen was one of London’s most revolutionary musical groups. Queen first got their start playing gritty London clubs in the late 1960s. Lead singer Freddie Mercury joined the band in 1970, and shortly after they began touring.
In 1975, Queen had their first number one hit with Bohemian Rhapsody which skyrocketed to the top of charts worldwide. Featuring experimental guitar solos and eclectic sounds, the album was essentially progressive rock. Theatrical stage performances, incredible vocals and an unprecedented ‘rock-glam’ persona propelled Queen to the entertainment forefronts of the world; a success that continued into the 1980s and has left a permanent mark on society.
Queen was not only a band of revolutionary musicians from London, they were a voice for several marginalized causes. Sadly, lead singer Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, though his (and the band’s) legacy was immortalized in the recent documentary film, Bohemian Rhapsody.
3. David Bowie
The Starman himself is next up on my list of the top 5 revolutionary London musicians. David Bowie hails from Brixton, South London and started his musical career in the early 1960s. Featuring heavily on experimental, out of this world pop/rock melodies, Bowie’s sound was something the music world had never heard before. Paying tribute to his rough London upbringing, Bowie often sang of differing morals and a struggle many young people face to find a place in this world.
Bowie’s first ‘real’ hit was in 1969 with “Space Oddity”. This launched the singer on to become famous worldwide in the following decades. Fans couldn’t get enough of albums like The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which later provided a launching pad for Bowie’s intermittent film career of nearly two decades. In the 1980s, Bowie even did a collaboration with Queen entitled Under Pressure, which remains one of his most popular tracks to this day.
David Bowie sold over 140 million albums during his career, which landed him a place in the elite ring of the world’s most successful artists, as well as a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tragically, Bowie lost his battle with cancer in 2016 though he will always be remembered for his vibrant personality and musical genius.
4. Led Zeppelin
Up next on my list is perhaps one of the most legendary rock groups of all time. One of the first-ever ‘metal’ bands, Led Zeppelin is made up of some of the most revolutionary musicians from London.
Originally known as the New Yardbirds, musicians Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham founded the band in London back in 1968. And by the end of 1969, the band scored their first major record deal with Atlantic records, and changed their name to Led Zeppelin. The band produced an extensive array of music, melding different influences from hard rock, heavy metal, psychedelia and the blues to create their own unique sound.
A single version of “Whole Lotta Love” came out in early 1970 where it quickly climbed the charts in the U.K. and abroad. The band was notorious for their dislike of singles and regarded their albums as “complete listening experiences”. But there’s no doubt that this song helped precipitate Led Zeppelin’s rise to 1970s superstardom. Album after album landed chart-topping hits, and Led Zeppelin was for the 1970s was the Beatles were in the 60s: huge.
The band continued to produce and tour throughout the 70s, eventually becoming one of the most popular rock bands of all time. Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980, after the unfortunate death of founding member and drummer, John Bonham.
5. Elton John
In 1947, the revolutionary London musician we know today as Sir Elton Hercules John, was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. Elton’s father was in the military and was often gone for long periods, though he was an avid trumpet player and managed to pass on his love of music to his son. An only child, Elton often took comfort in music, and developed exceptional musical abilities of his own.
At just 20 years old, Elton replied to a want ad for a composer in a local paper. He ended up meeting songwriter Bernie Taupin, and the two hit it off. The rest is history, quite literally! The duo worked together on multiple albums and tours, creating the very sounds we associate with pop music today.
Elton John’s pop tunes and infamous eccentric costumes took the world by storm. Today he has sold over 300 million records and is the 4th most successful musical artist, ever. In 1997 his single A Candle in the Wind became the best-selling single of all time. He’s even been knighted! So, that’s Sir Elton John to you.