Black music history trail
It is the cottage industry that took over the world.
From the one-man-band importing 7-inch singles, to the megastars that adorn the walls of a hundred million teenage bedrooms in poster-form.
From (Empire) Windrush to (Kanye) West. The story of British music has been fundamentally changed - completely, irreversibly rocked - by the story of Black music.
And so much of that story was written on the streets, in the clubs, and by the artists of Hammersmith & Fulham. The first ever Jamaican music imports to the UK? It happened here.
The greatest, most famous black artist in the history of music - a man competing for the title of the icon of the last century? He played his most powerful shows and recorded his best-known tracks here.
The songs which soundtracked the lives of millions, told a history of joy and pain and struggle, and when played loud enough, literally shook the world - came up from this beat.
Walk the trail
To celebrate Black history in H&F, we have set a trail for the trailblazers. Of course Black history is more than music, but we’re proud to be home to all these unsung borough connections, and we’re delighted to sing about it.
Through these pages, you can read the stories, hear the music, walk the streets that built the groove, nailed-down the lyrics and soundtracked our lives.
Along the way, some would try to stop it. But Chuck D wasn’t wrong when he told us ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’.
So let’s take a stroll… Or, as Robert Nesta Marley put it: “So we gonna walk - all right! - through de roads of creation…”
Visit the following pages and places to take the tour:
If you’ve ever been into dancehall and reggae music, it's almost a certainty that the imprint of Greensleeves Records will be found in your collection. The former site of Greensleeves is now occupied by Shepherds Bush tube station.
The Hammersmith Palais was a much-missed music venue which, for a period in the 1970s and 80s, felt to many like the HQ for Black music in London. The Palais closed its doors for the last time in 2007.
Built in 1932 as a cinema, the Odeon took on an exalted place in London's music folklore from the 1950s onwards. Now rebranded the Eventim Apollo, the old Odeon still plays a key role in our musical culture.
The Island Records building, actually three linked houses, went through several different guises before Island Records moved there in 1973. Their old home gained another new life as an architects’ practice in 2005.
Claudius Afolabi 'Labi' Siffre was born on 25 June 1945, at Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea Hospital - which was then based in Goldhawk Road. The hospital moved to the Hammersmith Hospital site in 2000.
History shows it was Chris Blackwell who first imported the sound of Jamaica to these shores in the 1960s. But George 'Peckings' Price was already hard at work spreading the sound of The Rock to London and beyond, a good two years before that.
Fela Kuti first lived here when he came to London to study music at Trinity College in 1958. Kuti was a Nigerian singer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, political activist and regarded as the founder of the influential musical style ‘Afrobeat’.
This is a work in progress - history is never fully written. If you have stories or locations to add, tell us at email@example.com