1970s London embraced an exciting array of musical genres from glam and reggae to pub rock, punk and more.
Here are 15 music videos from that decade, all of which were filmed in London.
In the Summertime: Mungo Jerry, Park Lane W1 (1970)
Mungo Jerry were formed at the end of the ’60s by the heavily side-burned Ray Dorset, who was born in Ashford, Middlesex in 1946.
Their most notable his was 1970’s In the Summertime, the video for which was filmed outside The Hilton Hotel on Park Lane.
Cosmic Dancer: T-Rex, Wembley Empire Pool HA9 (1972)
Marc Bolan- real name Mark Feld- was born in Hackney Hospital in 1947 and grew up in nearby Stoke Newington.
As a youngster, he’d often help his mother out on her pitch at the bustling Berwick Street market; a job which no doubt helped Marc nurture his confidence and flamboyant style.
Music was always in Marc’s soul, and in 1967 he formed the band Tyrannosaurus Rex- better known as T-Rex. As pioneers of glam-rock, T-Rex enjoyed a run of hits including Ride a White Swan, Hot Love, Get it On and many more.
Tragically, Mark died in a car crash on 16 September 1977. He was just 29 years old. The site of the accident, which occurred on Queen’s Ride, Barnes, remains a shrine for fans to this day.
The following video of Marc performing Cosmic Dancer is taken from a live concert at The Wembley Empire Pool (now Wembley Arena) which took place on March 18 1972.
Life on Mars: David Bowie, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, SW5 (1973)
Born on Brixton’s Stansfield Road in January 1947, David Bowie (real name David Robert Jones) was, quite simply, a musical legend.
In 2016, after a career spanning over 50 years, Bowie died in New York City. He’d been suffering from cancer, but had kept his illness hidden from all but his closest friends and family.
Life on Mars is one of most Bowie’s most iconic works and the promo for it was filmed on May 12 1973 at the now demolished Earls Court Exhibition Centre.
The video, which was intended to evoke a painting, was directed by Mick Rock who has worked with many other artists including The Sex Pistols, Thin Lizzy and Blondie.
In the wake of David Bowie’s death in 2016, a new Life on Mars mix was released, featuring remastered and unseen footage from the original shoot.
If you want to feel goosebumps, be sure to watch to the very end…
New Rose: The Damned, The Hope & Anchor N1 (1976)
Compared to today, 1970s London was a pretty grubby place. It was in this environment that the genres known as pub-rock and punk flourished.
One of the earliest groups to emerge from this era were The Damned, who were formed in London in 1976. Their single, New Rose is regarded by many to be the first British punk record.
The video for New Rose was filmed in the Hope and Anchor, Islington which was one of the most influential venues in 1970s London.
Anarchy in the UK: The Sex Pistols, The River Thames (1977)
Fronted by the acerbic John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten), The Sex Pistols are arguably the most famous punk group of all time.
They first gained notoriety in December 1976 after participating in a live interview on Thames Television which quickly descended into a foul-mouthed exchange with the standoffish host, Bill Grundy.
Anarchy in the UK was the Sex Pistols’ first single and was initially released in November 1976 by the record label EMI- who quickly ditched the band following the Grundy controversy.
In June 1977, at the height of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, the Pistols’ manager, Malcolm McLaren organised a boat ride along the Thames as a provocative publicity stunt.
During the rowdy cruise, the band played a gig which, naturally, included a rendition of Anarchy in the UK.
News of the World: The Jam, Battersea Power Station, SW8 (1978)
Considering it was shot on the roof of Battersea Power Station which, in 1978, was still very much operational, News of the World by The Jam is surely a contender for London’s coolest ever music video.
As for what property developers have recently done with this London landmark however, don’t get me started…
Psycho Killer: Talking Heads, BBC Television Centre Wood Lane, W12 (1978)
The Old Grey Whistle Test was a late night music show which ran on the BBC between 1971 and 1988.
During its time, the programme showcased many iconic performances, one of which was this intense rendition of Psycho Killer by the American group, Talking Heads.
The episode from which this clip was taken was broadcast on the night of 31 January 1978 and was filmed at the BBC’s Television Centre on Wood Lane.
Paradise by the Dashboard Light: Meat Loaf, BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane W12 (1978)
Another classic Old Grey Whistle Test performance from 1978 is Paradise by the Dashboard Light featuring Meat Loaf and Karla DeVito.
This 11 minute epic is utterly bonkers and really has to be seen to be believed. Be warned though; the language turns blue towards the end!
Is This Love: Bob Marley & The Wailers, Keskidee Arts Centre, Gifford Street, N1 (1978)
Although one of Jamaica’s most famous sons, Bob Marley spent so much time in London that the city effectively became his second home.
Bob lived in a number of areas in 1970s London including Neasden, Bloomsbury and Chelsea.
He and the Wailers also appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test and, during his spare time, Bob could often be found playing football in Battersea Park.
Bob’s last ever UK gig took place at the outdoor Crystal Palace Bowl in the summer of 1980; he died of cancer less than a year later, aged just 36.
In 1978, Bob Marley visited the Keskidee Arts Centre near King’s Cross to film the video for Is This Love. The Keskidee- named after a Caribbean bird- was Britian’s first arts centre for the Black community.
Sadly, the centre closed in 1991 and, in 2012, was gutted in a suspected arson attack.
Dance Away: Roxy Music, Fulham Road SW6 (1979)
Although released in 1979, the video for Roxy Music’s Dance Away- featuring the ever smooth Bryan Ferry- seems to have been filmed a few years later in 1982.
At the end of the video, Bryan Ferry can be seen walking towards Fulham Broadway before turning into Barclay Road.
The majority of the video appears to take place within a small theatre of some sort which, as of yet, I’ve been unable to identify. If you have any idea as to where its location is, please let me know in the comments!
Baker Street: Gerry Rafferty, Baker Street NW1/W1 (1979)
The late, great Gerry Rafferty was born in Paisley in 1947 and, during his early musical career, worked with fellow Scottish legend, Billy Connolly.
After performing with the band Stealers Wheel, Gerry released a solo album in 1978. This was City to City and it included what many consider to be his most famous hit; Baker Street.
The song was written during a turbulent period in Gerry’s life; at the time he was embroiled in a contractual dispute and spent much time travelling between Glasgow and London. Whilst in London, he would stay with a friend who lived on Baker Street.
The video features shots of the famous street itself; a real snapshot of 1970s London.
My Girl: Madness, The Dublin Castle, Parkway NW1 (1979)
Like The Small Faces who featured in the previous instalment on 1960s London, Madness are one of the capital’s most quintessential bands.
Originally known as The North London Invaders, the group first came into being in Camden Town in 1976.
In 1979, they received a break when the landlord of The Dublin Castle, Alo Conlan (who was something of a Camden legend and has a cameo in the intro to the video below) offered them a regular slot. Once this was secured, Madness quickly gained a large following.
The video for one of their earliest hits, My Girl was filmed inside The Dublin Castle itself.
There will be a lot more of Madness in the next instalment; the 1980s!
Another Brick in the Wall, Part Two: Pink Floyd, King Square Gardens N1 (1979)
Written as a protest against Britain’s educational system, Another Brick in the Wall was released in late 1979 and went on to become the first UK number 1 single of the 1980s.
The video featured shots of the 1970s London skyline- which of course looked rather different back then- before panning down to King Square Gardens.
The choir was made up of children from Islington Green School.
Video Killed the Radio Star: The Buggles, Wimbledon, SW19 (1979)
The Buggles were formed in Wimbledon by Geoffrey Downs and Trevor Horn (who has since gone on to become of of the music industry’s most influential producers).
Famously, Video Killed the Radio Star was the first ever music promo played on MTV when the channel launched just after midnight on 1 August 1981.
It’s claimed the video was made in South London (which would make sense considering the band formed in Wimbledon).
However, I have been unable to ascertain the exact location. If anyone out there knows, please do let me know in the comments as I’d love to find out!
The Clash: London Calling, Cadogan Pier SW3 (1979)
Due to its title and lyrics, it’s no surprise that London Calling has always been closely associated with the capital.
The song was written by the late Joe Strummer, who at the time was living on the eerily named World’s End Estate in Chelsea, close to the river Thames.
The film was shot on Cadogan Pier, which is located beside Albert Bridge.
If you can think of any other music videos which were made in 1970s London, please be sure to let me known in the comments!
Stay well and stay tuned for the next instalment in this series: the 1980s.
7 thoughts on “1970s London Music Videos”
‘London Calling’ by The Clash springs to mind, Rob.
Great series idea.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thanks Pete; yep got the Clash! Other ideas are great; didn’t think of the Beatles on the roof of Apple Studios. You’ll be sure to see some of the others in the next two instalments. Stay well 🙂
Me again. I thought of dozens more, but here are just a few.
Hometown, by Adele.
The Beatles on the roof of Apple studios.
Many videos by Culture Club.
Many videos by Squeeze.
Many more from Madness.
Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.
Firestarter by Prodigy.
Warick Avenue by Duffy.
Back to Black (and others) by Amy Winehouse.
I will leave it there. 🙂 Cheers, Pete.
I like this post! I’m a big fan of many of these acts from Mungo Jerry to Pink Floyd to Bowie, Talking Heads and Sex Pistols. This would make a great tube tour.
That site at Kirtling Street is the home of two of my projects 🙂
Many thanks Mandy! Would be interesting to hear what your projects are?
‘Come On Eileen’, by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Filmed in Lambeth, I’m sure.
Sorry, they keep coming to mind!
Don’t worry, that’s already a cert! Brook Drive; just behind the Imperial War Museum. It’s tricky to get a good clip of it though sadly. ‘The Celtic Soul Brothers’ is another good one by Dexys; filmed in and around The Crown in Cricklewood.