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Music has perhaps been the most consistently impactful medium of cultural expression throughout time. Certain events and artists have had incredible impacts that reverberate in fans; even in people who may have been alive at the time of the artists’ performances. We take a look at some of the most legendary musicians, concerts, and musical meccas for travelers to visit and connect with a real-life sense of music history.
The Museum at Bethel Woods
The name of the museum may not ring any bells to casual fans, but the name of the concert will: Woodstock. Now considered to be the godfather of large music festivals, in 1969 Woodstock also served as the focal point of hippie counterculture. Opened in 2008, the museum is stocked with amazing photographs and videos of performances by legends like The Who, Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin, who drew crowds of over 400,000 people to the farmlands of the Catskills.
Now one of the most visited museums in Austria, Mozart’s birthplace draws big crowds to the center of the picturesque city of Salzburg. A museum since 1880, tours are currently offered throughout the day to shed light on the influential composer’s life, from his music, early genius, and premature death. Music fans will be thrilled to see some of his concerts, written in his own hand on display — in total, Mozart composed 600 works in just 35 years of life.
Sound of Music Tour
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this list is that Salzburg, Austria has two representatives. Nicknamed “The Stage of the World” the city was also the location for the filming of The Sound of Music. Arguably the most beloved musical ever, the tour takes fans to many recognizable sites. Even those who aren’t huge fans of the film can enjoy the tour around the city’s most beautiful locales.
The final home of “The King”, every fan of Elvis has this as their number one must-see spot. Located outside of Memphis, Graceland is a mansion on a 13.8-acre estate, and while it has been converted into a museum dedicated to the legend, it exists largely as it did when Elvis lived there. Inside, fans are treated to numerous displays of bedazzled outfits, instruments, and rare photos. Outside of the museum, die-hard fans can book a stay in Graceland’s Guesthouse, while everyone else can come to enjoy the occasional concert hosted here.
In south Liverpool UK, sits a street that is visited by passionate music fans every day. Beloved from the song Penny Lane by The Beatles, fans are thrilled to see the places mentioned in the song co-written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. While people love the barbershop and bank from the lyrics, the location is actually much more significant to The Beatles’ history. This street is where Paul and John would catch the bus together, and the surrounding neighborhoods are where they eventually would start performing and later meet a young George Harrison.
While The Beatles’ song originally referred to an orphanage in Liverpool, we are instead speaking of the area in Central Park now known as Strawberry Fields. The entire area is 2.5 acres and the main draw is the circular tiled portion of the sidewalk with the word “Imagine” inscribed in the middle. This serves as a memorial for John Lennon, who was murdered just across the street. “Imagine” is, of course, a reference to his ever-popular song, which envisions a world of peace and human compassion. It is not uncommon for fans to lay flowers here.
Abbey Road Studios
Our final spot for Beatles love and praise is Abbey Road, one of the best things to do in London. The London recording studio is the location for the legendary photo of The Beatles crossing the street in unison, which would then later grace the cover of the album named after the studio. While The Beatles made the location famous, numerous artists have recorded music here, including Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, Radiohead, Oasis, Rush, Coldplay, The Killers, Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, and even John Williams while scoring some of the Star Wars and Harry Potter movies.
Bob Marley Museum
Essentially the Graceland of reggae, the Bob Marley Museum is housed in the former residence of the late musician in his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica. Jamaica’s favorite son, and the most iconic figure in the reggae genre, locals take great pride in honoring Marley’s memory. The museum offers a number of different tours and also has a café that serves up food in accordance to the Rastafarian style known as “ital livity”. Both spots are favorites for anyone backpacking Jamaica.
DJ Kool Herc’s Block
So there may not actually be much to see at this 1520 Sedgwick Avenue building in The Bronx, but that doesn’t keep hip-hop lovers away. Once the home of Clive Campbell, later known as DJ Kool Herc, this is where in 1973 Kool Herc served as a disc jockey for a block party held in his building’s rec room. Here, he debuted his experimental music, where he began rapping over instrumental beats and breaking/scratching records. This moment is considered by many to be the birth of hip-hop and rap.
Seattle may just well have the most music history of any city in the United States. The birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and the genesis of the grunge movement, the Emerald City loves its history of producing counterculture legends. Besides Hendrix, Kurt Cobain is probably Seattle’s favorite musical export. Viretta Park serves as an unofficial place of remembrance for Cobain who tragically took his own life in 1994. In the park, there is one particular bench where fans write messages to the late star. Music fans can later head downtown the EMP Museum, easily one of the best collections of music memorabilia in the world.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
While it may seem dark, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is unlike any other burial site. The Los Angeles cemetery has become infamous for being the final resting place of numerous celebrities. This goes for musicians as well. Music fans can come here to pay their respects to the Ramone brothers, Judy Garland, Chris Cornell, and Scott Weiland. It was also the site of George Harrison’s cremation before his ashes were spread on the Ganges River. This cemetery is hardly a typical morbid affair, as there are many unique, fun gravestones, and it consistently hosts concerts and outdoor movies amongst the burial sites.