Musical Meccas

Every music fandom needs a Mecca, a place of worship, where fans from all over the world can come to pay their respects to their music idols in the form of scrawled memories and lyrics. This is as true today as it was when the music fan was born in the 1960s.

Back then we had the Beatles with their catchy songs, grey suits and mop tops. The place of worship became Abbey Road’s zebra crossing, made famous by the Beatles’ 11th album cover.

In the 1970s Bolan and Bowie conquered our hearts and for them a Sycamore tree in Barnes and a mural on Brixton road have become deeply emotional spots.

In recent years bands like the Libertines rekindled the relationship between fan and artist through a heady combination of the Internet and impromptu gigs in their flat. The famous Albion Rooms gigs were held just around the corner from an alleyway where the band filmed the video for their single Up The Bracket. Now the alley –dubbed Up The Bracket Alley – is covered in scrawled messages of love and favourite lyrics, creating a vortex of nostalgia for anyone wandering down it.

Where is your favourite musical spot to visit? Share memories of your musical pilgrimages and help tell the story of British pop music for People’s History of Pop. Simply email or visit

Oasis at Knebworth: 20 years today

We can hardly believe it’s twenty years ago today that Oasis made music history by playing to 250,000 people across the weekend at Knebworth House.

Over at 6Music Steve Lamacq will be celebrating this seminal Britpop moment with a special programme full of interviews, memories and of course some classic tunes. He’ll explore the build-up to the weekend, reflecting on why it was extraordinary for so many and sharing memories from those who were there and the memorabilia they have cherished all this time. Steve will have new interviews from Dreadzone, Cast and Kula Shaker who supported Oasis over the weekend, along with interviews with those who knew the band best, such as their photographer Jill Furmanovsky and biographer Paolo Hewitt. Plus he’ll hear from those who made the monumental gigs happen, including Mike Lowe who built the biggest sound rig the country had seen at the time, and Henry Lytton Cobbold , owner of the Knebworth Estate.

In the final hour of the programme, we’ll be able to hear the concert, as it was broadcast live in 1996 including ‘Supersonic’, ‘Morning Glory’, ‘The Masterplan’ and ‘Wonderwall’.

Get your lighters ready…

Oasis at Knebworth: 20 Years on BBC Radio 6 Music Wednesday 10th August 4pm. #Knebworth6music

If you have any music memories from the 1990s then why not get in touch with us at People’s History of Pop? We’re looking for music fans from the 1990s and 2000s for Episode 5 now! Email

Episode 5 takes the People’s History of Pop into the 2000s

Over the past year the People’s History of Pop has collected music treasures from the past 50 years. We’ve enjoyed seeing all your music mementoes so much that we’re extending our search for memories into the 2000s.

Episode 5 of the People’s History of Pop will cover the years 1997 to 2010; from Radiohead’s release of OK Computer to Adele’s rise to fame. We want to hear from people who grew up listening to genres like UK Garage, Grime and Indie Rock, artists such as the Libertines, the Streets, Ms Dynamite and Dizzee Rascal. Did you watch you favourite musicians rise to fame – either on Myspace like Lilly Allen or on TV talent shows like Girls Aloud?

We also want to hear about your festival memories, after all this is the era where they exploded, from Reading and Leeds to Wireless. And don’t forget technology – what was on your first iPod? Do you still have it? Did you spend your early adolescence creating with Playstation’s Music 2000 or GarageBand? Still got the fruits of your labour? We’d love to hear it…

If you still have old footage, photos, tickets, posters or anything else in your attic, under your bed or in the recesses of your computer and old phones, dig it out and share it.

Email with your story or upload to our crowdsourcing site here.

Playing dress up

As we move through the decades, our music idols have become more and more outlandish in their appearance.

Episode 2 of People’s History of Pop, due out this summer, features the increasingly striking fashions of pop stars, from Marc Bolan’s glitter to Black Sabbath’s crosses. The desire to emulate their look has given us some wonderful photos of die-hard fans on PHOP. A particular favourite of ours is this impersonation of Ziggy Stardust by Scotty Somerville. ziggy

This would have been a familiar site at a David Bowie concert circa 1973, where the queues leading into the venue would present a sea of fans all dressed in the most outrageous way they could ready to see their idol, the master of wild imagery.

If you or someone you know ever dressed up as your music idol and took a photo, we’d love to see it! Just go to and follow the instructions to upload your image.

It’s the small things

So far the People’s History of Pop has seen everything from rare acetates to superstars’ wardrobes. But it’s often the small things that have evoked the fondest memories. Of all the items in their collection, many of our contributors have said they’d save the oddities of their hoard first in the event of an imaginary fire.

Items as seemingly incongruous as an old beer can, a handful of orange confetti and a plastic bag have been hailed as the jewel in a crown of pop paraphernalia. They are souvenirs with no price tag, reminders of triumphant acquisitions; of catching Ray Davies’ half-finished drink, of experiencing the Pet Shop Boys’ live for the first time, and of buying that first single in a long-departed local record store.

Here are a few of our favourite obscurities:

Caught in a frenzy by Chris Vanezis a the Smith's farewell gig at Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 1988
A piece of Mozza’s shirt: Caught in a frenzy by Chris Vanezis a the Smith’s farewell gig at Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 1988
Alice Cooper paper knickers: Saved from the School's Out! album in 1972 by Angela Tomlinson. Presumably unworn...
Alice Cooper paper knickers: Saved from the School’s Out! album in 1972 by Angela Tomlinson. Presumably unworn…
Ray Davies' lager can: Caught by Terry Cawser a Kinks gig in Ipswich in the mid-1970s
Ray Davies’ lager can: Caught by Terry Cawser a Kinks gig in Ipswich in the mid-1970s
Stuck to the underwear of a Pet Shop Boys fan, this confetti is a reminder of a great gig
Stuck to the underwear of a Pet Shop Boys fan, this confetti is a reminder of a great gig

If you have a music souvenir that’s more curious than costly share it with us at

British B-Boys be rockin’ on and on

We love this photograph uploaded to the People’s History of Pop by Martin Jones. It features the Wolverhampton B Boys Breakdance Crew in 1985 with their trophy from an ‘All Dayer’ dance event.

Can you spot the Drum and Bass legend in the photograph?

Wolverhampton B Boys breakdance crew, 1985, featuring Goldie. Uploaded by MMJones29. Licence: Copyright (c) all rights reserved
Wolverhampton B Boys breakdance crew, 1985. Uploaded by MMJones29. Licence: Copyright (c) all rights reserved


Check out this great video of the Wolverhampton B Boys battling Coventry rivals Future Shock on children’s television show Saturday Starship in November 1984.

Fun Fact: The classic B-boy track ‘The Mexican’ was originally recorded by the British prog rock band Babe Ruth.  It is considered by some as one of the most influential songs in hip-hop and breakdancing culture.

You can read more about the track in the The Stories Behind the Songs article published in Classic Rock Magazine in May 2012.

Were you a breakdancer in the 1980s or 1990s? Upload your story to PHOP.CO.UK

Scrapbook Stars

Every British pop star has had their career recorded meticulously by the press, in autobiographies and across social media. But as well as the articles and documentaries, the wax works and plaques, these stars have been immortalised in Pritt Stick.

Stuck between dog-eared pages, everyone from the Beatles to the Spice Girls have been lovingly documented by their biggest fans in scrapbooks. The People’s History of Pop has seen some wonderful creations uploaded to the site, demonstrating just how cherished these musicians were.



David Bowie fan Linda first saw him live in 1973, the concert where Bowie announced the retirement of the Ziggy character. As the entire Hammersmith Apollo screamed “Don’t go, David!” Linda resolved to begin her scrapbook so she had something to remember him by, something to cling on to. She wasn’t to know he would soon return as the Thin White Duke.



download (1)Throughout the 1980’s and ‘90s Lisa Redford kept magazine cuttings all about her favourite pop star, Morrissey. At the height of the Brit Pop era, Lisa collected Morrissey fanzines and records. Music was a big deal to her and her friends; the 1990’s were a celebratory period where there was real passion for the bands and the music they created.


If you still have your pop music scrapbook we’d love to see it. To share your story just visit or email


INTERVIEW: Jez Collins, Birmingham Music Archive

People’s History of Pop interviewed Jez Collins, the man behind the Birmingham Music Archive, about ‘activist archiving’ and uncovering Birmingham’s pop music heritage

A young Bobby Gillespie playing with Primal Scream at The Click Club, Burberries in 1986. Photo: Dave Travis, via the Birmingham Music Archive
A young Bobby Gillespie playing with Primal Scream at The Click Club, Burberries in 1986. Photo: Dave Travis, via the Birmingham Music Archive

In 2008, Jez Collins wanted to find out more about the musical history of his city, Birmingham, but when he went looking for books in the local library, he found nothing about music from Birmingham. When he read music magazines, Britain’s second biggest city rarely got a mention amidst talk of London, Manchester and Liverpool.

“I grew up in Birmingham. I didn’t go to Black Sabbath gigs or hang out with ELO but I went to venues and record shops. I thought I would ask the general public, what is our history? What is it for you?”

So Jez set up the Birmingham Music Archive to capture the histories of well-known bands such as Black Sabbath, ELO, UB40, Duran Duran, Dexys Midnight Runners as well as individuals such as  Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac, Nick Mason from Pink Floyd.  But he also wanted to ensure that bands who might have existed only for a short time, maybe who never released any records but who meant a lot to their fans and their city, were represented. He wanted them to also have the opportunity to share their histories and tell their stories. It’s not just about the bands either. The BMA celebrates the seminal venues and incredible clubs and gig venues as well as highlighting the role the city has played in the development of genres such as reggae and bhangra.

The archive is a website collecting content and memories relating to Birmingham bands, club nights, promoters, festivals, managers, fanzines, venues, record shops and more. Birmingham music lovers can send in photos, ticket stubs and memorabilia as well as comment beneath other people’s contributions.

Each memory often brings new ones from others who shared the same experiences. “A ticket stub, if you make it available, it actually triggers and prompts memory. It draws other people in. You don’t have to know the person who posted it, you don’t have to have been in the club at that time, but it triggers the memories.”

“I class myself as a citizen archivist who engages in activist archiving”, says Jez. “My history is not represented in the British Library or the National Gallery or Birmingham museums. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to investigate our own history. It’s important because popular music has never been deemed as an integral or important part of our cultural heritage…Actually, this is our history and it’s important to us and it matters that we preserve it.”

Jez knows that only too well because, like many people, he has saved stuff from his years of being a music fan that elicits important memories. When asked what his favourite piece of memorabilia is, he answers, “I don’t know, I have so much stuff. I think it would be my badge collection. It’s not a massive badge collection, but it’s badges I can relate to certain times, certain people, and certain moments in my life. I think that would be the one collection that encapsulates a particular period in my life. Or maybe a Bob Dylan ticket as well. Or a Bowie ticket. I’m going to stick with the badges.”

The BMA is a labour of love and Jez is also a full-time academic at Birmingham City University, researching the role of popular music in collective and individual identities.  “The academic work I am trying to do is to show that these things are extremely important and if we do not recognise them and we do not save them, then we are going to lose huge amounts of our cultural heritage.”

As well as their work online, the BMA will be co-hosting ‘Is Anyone Out There?’ Documenting Birmingham’s Alternative Music Scene 1986-1990 exhibition about Birmingham’s alternative music scene at Birmingham City University from May 3-28 2016.

People’s History of Pop – Episode One


Don’t forget to watch Episode One of the People’s History of Pop which will broadcast on Friday 15th April at 9PM on BBC 4. The programme will be available to watch on iPlayer shortly after broadcast.

Here is a clip from Episode One featuring Rolling Stones fan John Phillpot.

We are still crowdsourcing for the People’s History of Pop website and want to see your stuff. Upload your tickets stubs, photographs, records, teen band recording, memorabilia and more at PHOP.CO.UK

Episode One of People’s History of Pop – how to watch it!

Copyright BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Twiggy will present the first episode of PHOP. Copyright: BBC. Photographer: Ray Burmiston

The first episode of the People’s History of Pop is to be broadcast on BBC Four at 9pm on April 15 2016, as part of the year-long My Generation season.

Starting with the fifties, the season celebrates the history of pop music through the decades. Over four special weekends across the year, pop stars and music fans alike will give their own perspectives in this major season of tailored programming and content across the BBC. The stars at the centre of the pop scene and the people who loved the music will celebrate a given decade, with BBC Two focusing on the musicians’ reminiscences of the time and BBC Four telling the stories of those years through the fans’ experiences and memories in the ‘People’s History of Pop’.

We’ve interviewed those who have uploaded their stuff to the online People’s History of Pop project to make a film telling the fans’ stories from the decade 1955-1965.

Episode one will be presented by Sixties fashion icon Twiggy (to be broadcast on Friday 15 April). The programme will celebrate the decade in which we created our very own pop culture. It hears from skiffle players, fans of The Shadows, Liverpudlians who frequented the Cavern at the height of Merseybeat, Beatles devotees, dancers on Ready, Steady, Go!, mods, lovers of ska, bluebeat and Millie Small, and fans of The Rolling Stones.

Twiggy says: “I’m so excited to be taking part in the People’s History of Pop and telling the story of all that pop music meant to us in the Fifties and Sixties. This series is seen through the eyes of music fans, from lovers of skiffle to rock ‘n’ roll, pop to ska, and rhythm and blues to folk… it’s the precious music we all cherished, danced to and went giddy over. And music can evoke such strong memories. In fact, I can remember like it was yesterday, being one of those screaming girls at a Beatles concert. At age 13, I went with a friend to see them at Finsbury Park Astoria. My lovely Dad was going to pick us up afterwards, but at the end of the show we went to the stage door to try and see the group and so I wasn’t where I said I would be, and Dad couldn’t find us. He was frantic with worry but eventually found us and drove us safely home. It was a night I will never forget.”

Stories uncovered in episode one include a young Lonnie Donegan fan asking Lonnie back to his mate’s parents’ house so they could have an impromptu skiffle jam – and he said yes; what it was like to go to a recording of legendary music show Ready, Steady, Go!; and a schoolgirl’s dream comes true when The Beatles turn up at the pub where her mum was a waitress – but will her mum drag her out of school to meet her heroes?

Unearthed pop treasures include a recording of John Lennon’s first-ever recorded performance with his band The Quarrymen, at a fete in Liverpool on the day he met Paul McCartney for the first time – which viewers will see Twiggy listening to at the legendary Abbey Road studios; rare acetates of Merseyside musicians recorded by Percy Phillips (who also first recorded The Quarrymen once Paul and George Harrison had joined) in his living room in Liverpool; and Please Please Me in stereo – from a very rare pressing uploaded by a contributor.