Pete Townshend steps up fight to save London’s music history

The Who star Pete Townshend has stepped up his fight to save London’s musical history by backing a campaign to preserve the city’s iconic Tin Pan Alley.

The stretch of music shops on Denmark Street in central London, which has been a Mecca for stars since the 1950s, is under threat as the area is redeveloped as part of a new rail service link which is being installed nearby.

The fabled London Astoria music venue, which hosted artists including Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, has already been demolished as part of the Crossrail project, and Townshend fears plans to redevelop nearby Denmark Street will contribute to the erasure of London’s musical history.

In an open letter published in Britain’s The Times newspaper, he writes, “To use this essential rail service as an excuse to change the funky and heart face of the Soho streets is wrong. The developers say they are not demolishing Denmark Street but it seems the street is being redeveloped. Shop space is being vastly reduced and rents will surely go up. These unique music shops could be priced out of existence in the wake of Crossrail. In the sixties I bought fuzz boxes and guitar strings from Macari’s guitar shop. The Who did a backing vocal rehearsal with Shel Talmy at Regent Sounds in 1964.”

Townshend’s backing of the campaign to save Denmark Street comes just weeks after both he and his The Who bandmate Roger Daltrey signed another open letter urging London’s mayor to protect music venues in the Soho district following the closure of a famous club called Madame Jojo’s.