The homes of musicians offer us something their discography cannot: a sense of place. Sure, you can read about the studios where an album was recorded and analyse how a certain landscape affected the songs an artist was writing. Still, neither of these gets us closer to understanding how our favourite musician’s inhabited the world. Their homes, on the other hand, do.
Houses absorb the life within them, soaking up childhood memories, joys, and fears as though they were particles of dust. They are also curatorial spaces – blank canvases onto which we paint the catalogue of our lives. Why else would we place our favourite books in neat rows for all to see, arrange our favourite albums in alphabetical order, or pin photos of friends and family to our fridges? The home allows us to show people what we value and advertise what we believe has formed our outlook on life.
This is precisely why musicians’ homes are such fascinating places to nose around. Not only do they allow fans to inhabit a space once occupied by their hero, but they also offer us an insight into what that musician deemed to be essential about themselves. Below you’ll find a list of the best musician’s homes open to the public, spaces that evoke their owners’ personalities in childhood and old age.
Six musicians homes you can visit around the world:
Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
Location: 110 Center Dr, Dyess, AR 72330, United States.
Website: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home.
It doesn’t get much quainter than this: Johnny Cash’s childhood home is a timber, single storey farmhouse located in The Dyess Colony Resettlement Area in Arkansas. By the end of the 1930s, nearly two-thirds of Arkansas’ farmers had lost their land.
In an effort to restore the livelihoods of the impoverished farming community in Arkansas, the US government built around 500 homes like the one Cash grew up in, each of which included an outhouse, smokehouse, henhouse and small barn, in addition to 20-40 acres of uncleared swampy Delta farmland that the families were obliged to clear. It wasn’t easy, but it ensured the survival of countless families who would have starved otherwise. The home, which was restored with the help of Johnny’s two youngest siblings, is furnished as it appeared when the family lived here in the 1930s and ’40s.
Jimi Hendrix’s Mayfair Apartment
Location: 25 Brook Street, London W1K 4HB.
Website: Handel & Hendrix.
Jimi Hendrix moved into his first London flat in the summer of 1968. Located on the upper floors of 23 Brook Street, the apartment was found by the guitarist’s then-girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, who spotted an advert in a London evening newspaper while Hendrix was still in New York.
Hendrix moved in for a short time in July before returning to New York to embark on an extensive tour with The Experience. During his short stint in London, Hendrix took the time to decorate the flat, transforming it into the perfect boho nest, complete with Persian rugs and knickknacks from Portobello Road Market. As Hendrix would later recall, this modest flat was “the only home I ever had”. However, in 1969, it also served as the setting for a near-endless stream of press and media interviews and photo shoots – the latter of which were used by the curators over at Hendrix & Handel to ensure the decor in the Hendrix flat was accurate.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum
Location: 34-56 107th St, Queens, NY 11368, United States.
Website: Louis Armstrong House.
Sporting a sky blue kitchen and a living room featuring couches, carpets, and walls decorated with the same mellow peach leaf design, Louis Armstrong’s impeccably maintained home in the humble neighbourhood of Queens, New York, is a wonder to behold. Armstrong lived here with his wife Lucille from 1943 until his death in 1971. As you would expect, the pair filled their home with the same warmth that suffuses Armstrong’s tender blend of jazz.
Located on 34-56 107th Street, the Louis Armstrong House Museum seeks to uphold the cultural, historical, and humanitarian legacy of Louis Armstrong by maintaining Armstrong’s home and sharing archival materials from the great jazz pioneers life. The LAHM also runs inspiring educational programs for the general public and works with contemporary local artists to create performances and new works.
Lennon & McCartney’s Childhood Homes
Location: 251 Menlove Avenue, Liverpool, L25 7SA (Lennon), 20 Forthlin Rd, Liverpool L18 9TN (McCartney).
Website: The Beatles Childhood Homes.
Located in the Mendips suburbs, John Lennon’s childhood home is humblingly understated. While it is much grander than the undetached council housing that Paul McCartney grew up in on 20 Forthlin Road, it seems far too modest to have housed someone with as enormous a legacy as John Lennon. Both the Beatles’ childhood homes in Liverpool are open to the public, offering fans the chance to explore the setting of Lennon and McCartney’s formative years.
The best way to go about visiting these wonderful little time capsules of 1950s suburbia is by going on one of the guided tours operated by The National Trust, who now take care of the properties. If you’re looking to check out both properties on the same day, you’ll be pleased to hear they’re within walking distance of one another, located less than a mile apart.
Bob Marley’s Kingston home
Location: 56 Hope Road in Kingston, Jamaica.
Website: Bob Marley Museum.
The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica, is chock-full of memories, awards, and personal artefacts which seek to bring the legacy of Jamaica’s most legendary musician to life. Like all the museums on this list, the original rooms have been meticulously preserved, as though the Marleys have just popped out and could come back at any moment.
As well as being able to wander around Bob Marley’s bedroom (complete with his favourite clothing), kitchen, living room, study, and personal recording studio, you’ll find a selection of stunning displays, including a lifesize three-dimensional hologram of Marley performing at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978.
Elvis Presley’s Graceland
Location: Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116, United States.
Elvis Presley was just 22 when he purchased Graceland for $100,000, having already made a name for himself as one of America’s most successful musical exports. Just the year before, he’d appeared in his second motion picture, Loving You, which would be followed by the iconic Jailhouse Rock. Set on the crest of a hill, surrounded by oak groves and overlooking verdant farmland, the house truly is a wonder to behold – and that’s just the exterior.
The 650,000 people who visit Graceland every year are greeted by the towering ivory white columns that form the mansion’s front entrance. Inside, you will find innumerable bedrooms, bathrooms, billiard rooms, and even a jungle room, which features an indoor waterfall of cut fieldstone.