Denmark Street Copyright © 2011    Contact: denmarkstreet@sfr.fr     Tel: +33 612 883 957        

Denmark Street’s History


London's "Tin Pan Alley" is quite simply Europe’s best music street, filled with specialist music shops and thronging with people passionate about music. There’s hardly a rock and roll legend that hasn’t visited at some time. Music history has been made here; Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles recorded in the basements... Elton John wrote the classic Your Song on the rooftops...



Denmark Street is a short narrow road in central London, notable for its connections with British popular music, and is known as the British Tin Pan Alley “. The road connects Charing Cross Road at its western end with St Giles High Street at its eastern end. Denmark Street is in the London Borough of Camden.

Denmark Street appears on surveys from the 1730s. The area around it was known as 'the Rookery', a part of London that had developed in the 18th century as an unplanned slum to the west of the City. Though much of the area was cleared by the end of the 19th century, Denmark Street is one of the few roads in London to retain 17th century terraced facades on both sides. A small court connected by passages (known as Denmark Place) runs along the back of the north side of the street.

In short, Denmark Street is forever associated with music. Earning the nickname of London’s Tin Pan Alley in the 1920s, musicians have flocked to this renowned corner of Soho since its origins as a sheet music supplier in Victorian times.                                                                                                                                             

Most of the buildings date from the 1800s when it was considered a fairly inferior area with its proximity to the theatres and pubs of Soho. Rents were cheap, attracting struggling artists, composers, and musicians. Music publishers set up their businesses here around the 1890s, supplying the musicians of the orchestras at nearby theatres and music halls. In the 1930s, shop windows displayed pianos and guitars and the street was becoming renowned for music publishing.

 In the 1950s and 60s it was where songwriters and publishers were located. 

 In the late 1950s in the cafes around Denmark Street Lionel Bart, writer of the musical "Oliver!", heard the latest R&B brought over by young London Merchant Navy men and was inspired to knock out early British Rock and Roll hits for the publishers of Denmark Street.


Venues on Denmark Street have strong connections with the histories of British jazz, rhythm and blues and punk music.


        Recording studios started setting up in the 1960s, and it was then that Denmark Street’s name was etched into the archives. Denmark Street’s impact on the contemporary music scene is widely regarded as far greater than the more populist location of Abbey Road.

In 1963 ” The Regent Sounds Studio “  was set up at 4 Denmark Street.              With The Rolling Stones recording their first album here, the studio took off as the place to be seen to be making music. Many entertainers including Donovan and Jimi Hendrix made their first recording at Regent Sounds Studios. Now home to the specialist music bookshop Helter Skelter, anecdotes abound of The Kinks and ELP recording here in the basements. Denmark Street is the name of a song on the Kinks' 1970 album Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One


     In 1970 Elton John wrote "Your Song", his first hit single, in Denmark Street. He then mentioned the street in his 1974 song "Bitter Fingers" off his Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy album. Later, The Sex Pistols  lived above number 6, and recorded their first demos there. The street contains London's largest cluster of music shops. The studio was supplied with the latest in 1970s music technology, with a reverb room at the back of the present day bookshop, and a cutting-edge 16-track machine housed in the basement that drew the likes of Stevie Wonder in 1974.The studio closed in the late 70s, becoming a comic bookstore The Forbidden Planet, before opening as Helter Skelter in 1995. As well as publishing their own titles and moving heaven and earth to get you that rare tome in record time, the specialist store also houses an impressive range showcasing the genre - biographies, anthologies, tributes, and retrospectives - making it an essential destination for music lovers.

Ever since David Bowie notoriously set up residence in a camper van on the street near his studios, celebrity musicians have flocked here. Bob Marley famously bought his very first guitar here and Lou Reed whiled away many a "perfect day". Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Andy Kershaw, Eric Clapton and The Beatles’s producer George Martin are frequent visitors.

The now defunct Giaconda Café became the place to relax, drink and mingle with like-minded musicians and workers in the industry. The Sex Pistols even took up residence here in the mid-1970s. It functioned as almost a recruitment center for jobbing musicians seeking work the easy way. Producers were renowned for coming to the café to find musicians to join their bands. A niche community developed which still remains today, in the friendly atmosphere of a street with a shared enthusiasm - or more accurately, obsession! And there’s always music wafting from basements, shop windows and balconies


The street still houses recording studios, publishers and even manufacturers. Orange Music Electronics Company has a long history of supplying amps and electrical goods throughout the world - all from a basement in Denmark Street. Many of the present day music shops have a long musical history. Rose Morris at number 11 was set up in 1919 by Charles and Leslie Rose and Victor Morris, expanding to six floors of musical instruments and printed music. In the late 1960s, Rhodes opened at number 22, making it one of the oldest guitar shops in the country. The London PA Centre at number 23 is home to a vast range of musical electrical supplies, as well as a black-caped and evidently musical resident Victorian ghost!



Denmark Street in popular culture

1950s

In the 1950s and 60s it was where songwriters and publishers were located.

In the late 1950s in the cafes around Denmark Street Lionel Bart, writer of the musical "Oliver!", heard the latest R&B brought over by young London Merchant Navy men and was inspired to knock out early British Rock and Roll hits for the publishers of Denmark Street.


Regent Sound Studios








Music shop in Denmark Street









1960s

The Rolling Stones recorded their first album at Regent Sounds Studios on Denmark Street in 1964.

Regular Denmark Street session muso's included: Jimmy Page, Big Jim Sullivan, Colin Falconer, Ray Smith, Geoff Livingstone, Jerry Donahue.

Many entertainers including Donovan and Jimi Hendrix made their first recording at Regent Sounds Studios.

George Harrison of The Beatles bought a nylon string acoustic guitar on Denmark street to play on the song "Till There Was You" on their second album With The Beatles

1970s

In 1970 Elton John wrote "Your Song", his first hit single, in Denmark Street. He mentioned the street in his 1974 song "Bitter Fingers" on the semi-autobiographical concept album [Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy].

"Denmark Street" is the name of a song on the Kinks' 1970 album Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.

Manager Malcolm McLaren asked architect Ben Kelly to refurbish a basement rehearsal room for The Sex Pistols, which McLaren had bought from Badfinger.

Scott Gorham bought his first guitar with Thin Lizzy on Denmark Street. He had turned up at the audition with a Japanese Les Paul Copy. When he got the job, Phil Lynott took him shopping on Denmark Street, where he first picked up a Les Paul Standard. Finding it too expensive, he settled for a Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe with "mini humbuckers", which was the guitar he used during most of his career with Thin Lizzy.

1980s

The promotional music video of the 1988 The Moody Blues song "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" shows a man walking along Denmark Street and then picking up a guitar in one of the shops.

2000s

Denmark Street is mentioned in Jamie T's track '368' on the album Kings and Queens.

Denmark street include shops such as Sax.co.uk ,Wunjoguitars, London Bass Cellar ,Hank's Guitar Shop ,The London PA Centre, Macari's, Musicroom, The Early Music Shop ,Rose Morris, Rockers,Regent Sound Studio ,Vintage & Rare Guitars.