As well as celebrating Kingston upon Thames’s rich musical history, Kingston RPM also captured a flavour of its musical culture today. The Kingston RPM Project Album includes a range of especially recorded tracks from the project's very own Gig Day and the Kingston Music Service’s Festival of School Choirs. These musical numbers are complemented by snippets from the 15 oral histories captured for Kingston RPM.
Here you can listen to snippets from Top Topham, a founding member of The Yardbirds, one of the earliest R&B innovators in the UK, discussing how blues music first captured his soul. We also hear from Margaret and Robin Willes, who as regulars on Kingston’s gig scene offer the perspectives of the punter, and Chris Arthur, who organised live concerts in the borough during Britain’s trad jazz boom. Blues inspired Tankus the Henge, folk artists Tobias Ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater, and the Julian Marc Stringle Jazz Quartet provide the music, recorded live at the Kingston RPM Gig Day.
Beneath this the Kingston RPM: Cradle of Rock (Live Venues) Spotify playlist is a chronological exploration of tracks from artists who played live shows within the vast network of venues that populated Kingston between the 1950s and 1970s. Included are those whose connections with the town lie deeper: The Yardbirds have their origins in Hollyfield School in Surbiton, who in turn were the genesis for Led Zeppelin via members Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page - indeed the original name for Led Zep was ‘The New Yardbirds’.
The tracks selected were released by the artists around the time of their first known live appearances in Kingston, highlighting the evolution of popular music over this time period. As time goes on concert crooners and rock n rollers such as the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and Cliff Richard begin to make way for R&B and ultimately psychedelic sounds that in Kingston could largely be found in Tolworth’s Toby Jug pub. The playlist concludes with David Bowie, who as a teenager played in neighbouring Richmond’s Eel Pie Island and launched his Ziggy Stardust persona at the Toby Jug in 1972.
View our Venues timeline for a more detailed glimpse of who played where.