Bucket list for music fans: Top 40 rock ‘n’ roll places to visit

Rock legend Chuck Berry during a Southland visit to Irvine in 2010.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Thank you, Lonely Planet, for one of the best musical compilations around: the Top 40 Rock ‘n’ Roll Travel Sites. Why should any dedicated rock fan go to St. Louis, Zanzibar or the Budokan judo hall in Tokyo? The guidebook company’s Robert Reid provides compelling reasons to see all three, but more on that later.

The list offers far more than the usual suspects and includes a level of detail that might make rock fans consider taking off on their own round-the-world tour.


Reid’s travel venues go way back, with the honorable Chuck Berry as the No. 1 chart topper and the reason to go to St. Louis. Yes, the 86-year-old still performs live (how could I not know this?) at a basement stage and tickets cost just $35. Berry, who practically invented rock ‘n’ roll, was the first person inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, which occupies No. 2 on the list.

So back to previously mentioned venues. Downtown Zanzibar, Tanzania, is where Faroukh Bulsara, a.k.a. Freddy Mercury of Queen fame, was born. And the Budokan hall in Tokyo is where the Beatles played in 1966, and Cheap Trick later followed, putting the location on the rock map.


Of the top 10 travel-worthy spots, just one is in Los Angeles, the Whisky A Go Go, which opened in 1964 and became the rock club of record. Memphis, Tenn., grabs two spots — Sun Studio (“ground zero for rock music”) at No. 3 and Elvis’ Graceland, at No. 4.

And Britain snags three: Liverpool, from which the Fab Four hail (No. 10); Abbey Road in London (No. 6) for the famous Beatles street-crossing photo and album of the same name; and a London alley near the Savoy Hotel (No. 8) where Bob Dylan was shuffling cards that held some of the lyrics to “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” It was filmed and included in the 1967 film “Don’t Look Back.”


There are more gems on this list — and more reasons to hit the road.
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