Tin Pan Alley - Denmark Street, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.909 W 000° 07.776
30U E 699157 N 5711020
Quick Description: This British Plaque Trust blue plaque, to 'Tin Pan Alley', is attached to a building on the south east side of Denmark Street in London.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 5/8/2015 7:17:17 AM
Waymark Code: WMNVQB
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Norfolk12
Views: 1

Long Description:

Wikipedia has an article about Denmark Street from which the following is taken:

The land on which Denmark Street lies was formerly part of the grounds for St Giles Hospital, founded as a house for lepers in the early 12th century by Henry I's wife, Matilda (Maud). In 1612, it was recorded as being owned by Tristram Gibbs. The grounds were laid out for development during the reign of James II and developed by Samuel Fortrey and Jacques Wiseman in the late 1680s. Historical evidence suggests the street was formed between 1682 and 1687, as it was not shown on Morden and Lea's Map of 1682. It was named after Prince George of Denmark, who had married Princess Anne in 1683. By 1691, 20 houses had been completed, of which eight remain standing.

Dr John Purcell, a London physician who published A Treatise on Vapours or Hysteric Fits, lived at number 10 in 1730, while the Reverend Doctor John James Majendie – who became Canon of Windsor – lived there from 1758 to 1771. The painter Johann Zoffany lived at number 9. In the late 18th century, the Jacobite Sir John Murray, lived there until the day he was "carried off by a party of strange men".

The area around the street was known as the rookery of St Giles, which developed in the 18th century as an unplanned slum to the west of the City, and described as a "Pandora's box of pollution, plague and pestilence". Though much of the area was cleared by the end of the 19th century, Denmark Street is the only street in London to retain 17th century terraced facades on both sides. In 2010, a study by Camden London Borough Council suggested that only six other streets in London have a comparable heritage to Denmark Street. A small court connected by passages (originally known as Dudley Court, then Denmark Court and now known as Denmark Place) runs along the back of the north side of the street, connecting to it via an opening at No. 27.

The street started being used for commercial purposes at the beginning of the 19th century and houses were converted for commercial use. Ground floors became used as shops, while upper floors and back rooms were used as workshops, particularly for metalwork. Augustus Siebe, the pioneer of the diving helmet, lived and worked on the street, and today there is an English Heritage blue plaque commemorating him on the house where he lived.

In the 1930s, several Japanese businesses were established in the street, which became known as "Little Tokyo". Azakami and Co. at No. 6 sold books, newspapers, televisions and radios. The Tokiwa restaurant and hotel were based at No. 8 and No. 22 respectively having moved from Charing Cross Road in 1927. Other businesses included a hairdresser, jewellers, tailor and gift shop.

Lawrence Wright was the first music publisher to set up premises on Denmark Street in 1911. He was initially based at No. 8 and moved to No. 11 after World War I. He subsequently founded the musicians' journal Melody Maker in 1926. The same year, another music publisher, Campbell Connelly, moved from their original offices in Tottenham Court Road to Denmark Street. The New Musical Express was founded at No. 5 in 1952 and remained there until 1964. By the end of the 1950s, the street had established itself as Britain's "Tin Pan Alley" and housed numerous music publishers and other venues connected with the business.

Larry Parnes became a successful manager and entrepreneur of pop singers during the mid-1950s, and regularly took material from songwriters and publishers based in Denmark Street. Lionel Bart, writer of the musical Oliver!, started his writing career for publishers and was subsequently known as "the king of Denmark Street".

The music publishing trade on Denmark Street began to decline during the 1960s, as the traditional producers lost touch with changing tastes and groups like the Rolling Stones showed it was possible to write their own material. For example, Paul Simon was based in London at this time but Mills Music at number 20, told him that his songs "Homeward Bound" and "The Sound of Silence" were uncommercial.

Recording studios began to be operated in the street. James Baring founded Regent Sounds Studio at No. 4 in July 1961 to serve as a unit for publishers to record their songs. The studio was based above the offices of Essex Music and was subsequently owned by then Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. The band recorded their first album at Regent in 1964 and the single "Not Fade Away" became their first major hit to be recorded there. Oldham liked the atmosphere in the studio as he could "stretch out a bit, experiment and learn from our mistakes". The studios eventually expanded and moved into new premises on Tottenham Court Road, while the Denmark Street premises became the sales office. They were subsequently bought by Eddie Kassner at the end of the 1960s. Publishers Box & Cox had their offices at number 7. Their greatest hit was "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts". Southern Music, at No. 8, also had a studio in the ground floor, which was used to record Donovan's hit, "Catch The Wind".

The Carter & Lewis songwriting partnership evolved when John Carter and Ken Lewis arrived in London in 1959 and decided "if you want to be in the music business, that [Denmark Street] was the place to be, that was the rule". Session musicians such as Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones regularly played in Denmark Street studios. In 1964, The Kinks with Page on guitar and Jon Lord (later to form Deep Purple) on piano, recorded "You Really Got Me" in one of the basement studios.

Musicians often socialised around the Gioconda café at No. 9. David Bowie recruited his first backing band, The Lower Third, in the bar, while the Small Faces formed after the original members socialised around the Gioconda. Other regular patrons included David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. In April 2014, a number of music industry figures, including disc jockey Mike Read, unveiled a blue plaque above the premises that included a QR Code to access a multimedia presentation about the history of music.

In 1970 Elton John wrote "Your Song", his first hit single, in Denmark Street. He had started work at a music publisher in the street in 1963. He mentioned the street in his 1974 song "Bitter Fingers", on the semi-autobiographical concept album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. Also in 1970, a song named "Denmark Street" appeared on the Kinks' album Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.

Manager Malcolm McLaren asked architect Ben Kelly to refurbish a basement rehearsal room he had bought from Badfinger. The Sex Pistols rehearsed in this room, lived above No. 6, and recorded their first demos there. Johnny Rotten drew cartoons of the members as graffiti which turned up later in an archaeological survey of the site. 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. After being told several guitars were too expensive, he settled on a Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. Andy's Guitars was established in 1978 at No. 27 and survived for many years before closing in 2007 because of increased shop rates.

The comic and science-fiction bookshop, Forbidden Planet started at number 23 in 1978 before moving to New Oxford Street and becoming an international chain. When Douglas Adams attempted to attend a signing for the first The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy book in October 1979, the queue to the shop was so long that Adams thought a demonstration was taking place elsewhere.

By 1980, there were a number of illegal nightclubs operating on Denmark Place, running adjacent to the street, which were used by London based South American immigrants. The clubs were housed in buildings that had previously functioned as a hostel for musicians, which adjoined a music shop on the street, and the fire brigade had insisted that a fire escape be fitted. By the time the clubs were in operation, the shop had closed and the fire escape had fallen into disrepair. On 14 August, a disgruntled clubber was ejected and locked out from a venue, and in response, poured petrol through the letterbox and set fire to it. The resulting fire killed 37 people and was described as the worst fire in London for loss of life since World War II.

Numbers 1–3 had become a Job Centre by the 1980s, specialising in vacancies for the catering industry.[51] The serial killer Dennis Nilsen worked there and brought in a large cooking pot, in which he had boiled his victims heads, as a utensil for preparing a Christmas 1980 party.[52]

In May 1990, Andy Preston, owner of Andy's Guitars, set up a traders association and attempted to have the street re-branded as "Music Land", similar to Drury Lane being marked Theatreland and Gerrard Street as Chinatown. Helter Skelter was set up as a bookshop dedicated to music titles in 1995 by Sean Body. The shop operated at the old Essex Music and Regent Sound building at No. 4 until rising rents forced it to close in 2004.

Blue Plaque managing agency: British Plaque Trust

Individual Recognized: Tin Pan Alley

Physical Address:
Denmark Street
London, United Kingdom


Web Address: [Web Link]

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