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Bowie mural | © Wikimedia/Peter Coxhead
Bowie mural | © Wikimedia/Peter Coxhead
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A Music Lover's Guide to Brixton

Picture of Nicholas Atkins
Updated: 26 July 2017
There must be something in the water in Brixton, because the list of its musical sons and daughters is as long as its fascinating musical history. Adele lived there as a child, La Roux was born and raised there, two members of The Clash are from there and of course, it was the first home of the late, great David Bowie. For better or worse, Brixton has gone through a transformation over the past few years. Here’s a musical tour of the area.
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O2 Academy Brixton

The O2 is the big boy of Brixton and over the years has hosted some unforgettable performances. In 1986, The Smiths played their last ever gig here. In contrast, the unstoppable Iggy Pop rocked the academy in the same year and since then, it has seen musical legends from Grace Jones, to Bowie, to Snoop Dogg and Manc legends the Stone Roses take to the stage, as well as possibly the hottest on stage chemistry ever displayed between Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue. This place is dripping with historical musical moments.

O2 Academy, 211 Stockwell Road, Brixton, London, England, +44 20 7771 3000

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Brixton Jamm

This is a big name in the Brixton Scene. You haven’t ‘done’ Brixton until you’ve done the Jamm. MGMT and Hot Chip have played legendary gigs here and on any given night, you’ll catch live music as well as wall-shaking DJ sets.

Brixton Jamm, 261 Brixton Road, Brixton, London, England +44 20 7274 5537

The Clash

Paul Simonon and Mick Jones of The Clash are both from Brixton. Their 1979 song The Guns of Brixton shines a harsh light on law enforcement violence in Brixton. Written by Simonon, it had a strong reggae influence, drawing inspiration from the music of the local Caribbean community.

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Electric Avenue

Everyone can sing the chorus of Electric Avenue, the hit song from Eddie Grant’s 1982 album Killer On The Rampage. The song is a reference to the well known shopping street in central Brixton, which was one of the first in the UK to have electric street lighting installed. The song conjures images of poverty, violence and social deprivation, but also celebrates the undeniably vibrant and energetic feel of the area.

Electric Avenue, Brixton, London, England

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David Bowie birthplace

At 40 Stansfield Road, on January 8 1947, David Robert Jones was born. His mum Peggy was a waitress and worked in a cinema and his dad John worked for a children’s charity. When David was six, the family moved further out into suburban Bromley. He later changed his name to Bowie partly to avoid confusion with The Monkees’ Davy Jones, and partly because it sounded super cool. No denying that.

40 Stansfield Road, Brixton, London, England

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Bowie mural

The Bowie mural is located on the side of Morleys department store, just across the road from Brixton tube station, and features Bowie as his Aladdin Sane persona. It was created by Australian street artist James Cochran in June 2013. The image became a focal point for fans leaving flowers and tokens of appreciation after the legendary singer’s death in 2016.

Tunstall Rd, Brixton London, England