History & heritage

Our musical heritage

Live music at Paddington Central is the latest chapter in the area’s musical history
22.09.2016

Music lovers living and working around Paddington had the chance to discover some great new acts in September. Taking place twice a day every Thursday, the September Sessions featured a different new artist performing three songs in either a lunchtime or early evening set.

But Paddington isn’t just about new music. The area has long-standing associations with many popular artists. Here are just five of the stars whose careers took them to Paddington.

Joe Strummer

The legendary frontman of punk heroes The Clash spent many of his formative years in London, trying to make it as a musician. The second part of his stage name partly refers to the ‘strumming’ he did while busking on the streets of London. To commemorate this, you can find the Joe Strummer Subway sign near Edgware Road underground station, not far from Paddington Basin. “It had to be simple and it had to be loud,” he explains of how the songs he played on the streets of Paddington laid the foundations for him forming one of the world’s most influential rock ’n’ roll bands.

Björk

Originally from Iceland, singer-songwriter Björk relocated to Little Venice before the release of her 1993 album Debut, which established her as a solo artist following the break-up of her previous band, The Sugarcubes. Björk’s residence in Little Venice was been described as “small and quirky” and a Sunday Times interviewer observed: “a ghetto blaster sits where most people keep the food blender and a yard-and-a-half-long audio cassette-holder stands in for the herb rack”. Known for her at-times eccentric observations and behaviour, Björk decided to leave Little Venice because she missed the sea. “It’s a canal, so the water doesn’t move,” she explained.

Noel Gallagher

Another resident of Little Venice, former Oasis leader Noel Gallagher moved to the area in 2010, reportedly because he and his wife wanted a house in central London that had a garden. Earlier this year Gallagher and Little Venice made the headlines when his five-bedroom, four-bathroom home was put up for sale. An end-of-terrace stucco build, it overlooks Regent’s canal and attracted an asking price of £11.5m. A fan of the area and nearby Marylebone, Gallagher visits the famous Daunt Books “every couple of weeks”, and gets his hair cut at local barbers Percy & Reed.

Duffy

Welsh singer-turned-actor Duffy was inspired to write Warwick Avenue, one of her best-known songs, after alighting at the Little Venice tube station by accident during her early days in London. The story of a break-up, the hit track features on her multi-platinum, 2008 debut album, Rockferry. Opening lines “When I get to Warwick Avenue/Meet me by the entrance of the tube,” grounds the song with an undeniable sense of place. For the video, Duffy invoked more London imagery as she sings while travelling in the back of a black cab. “I wrote it from a secret perspective,” she says, preferring not to completely spell out the song’s meaning.

Paul Weller

A contemporary of Joe Strummer and friend of Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller has resided in Paddington for a number of years. The former Jam frontman famously split up the pioneering new wave band at the height of their popularity in 1982. His next band, The Style Council, and his subsequent solo career enabled him to experiment with other genres such as pop, soul and jazz. His connection with the area has been longstanding, though. When Gallagher first moved to Paddington in 2010 the two were spotted catching up at a west London café.