I first came to Camden in 1997, on vacation with a bunch of friends from California. We knew that Camden was where some of our favorite Britpop bands, Blur, Menswear, Elastica...etc., hung out, so we headed up there. As soon as I walked out of Camden Town Station I felt like I was home. We wandered around in the drizzling rain and looked at all the tatty stalls by the station. We scurried past the punks on the lock.
We could feel that Camden was different than anything we knew in California. Southern California was hot and bright, the Santa Anna winds dried out your skin and messed up your hair. All the girls were dressing like Gwen from No Doubt. I was using SPF 50 and had my hair cut like Justine from Elastica. I didn't fit in to say the least. But when I was in Camden I felt like I finally fit in.
That day I picked up a book called 'The Rock n Roll Guide to Camden' by Ann Scanlon from the Tower Records across from the station, sadly it's no longer in print but you can get a used copy on Amazon for £49.95! This is where I was told that Blur, my favorite Britpop band, drank at The Good Mixer on Inverness Street. A couple days later, on my birthday, my friend Reggie and I went to the Mixer and lo and behold there was Graham Coxon and half of Menswear. It was also Graham's birthday...best birthday I ever had.
In 2000, I moved to London and moved as close to Camden as I could afford. The first place I went was the Good Mixer. I made friends with the locals, who turned out to either work in the music industry or used to be in some semi-famous band. As I drank my pints, I'd listen to my new friends tell me old stories about Camden and it's music history. At the time, I thought a walking tour of Camden's music history would be a great idea but didn't think my new friends would appreciate some American whipper-snapper taking tourists round there local drinking dens.
Over the years, my new friends became old friends and I'm now of the locals. I became part of Camden's music history as I watched the Hawley Arms burn down in the Camden Fire. I've DJed at most of the music venues in Camden. I even shot my final student film on the streets on Camden. And all this time, the idea never left my brain...'you should do a rock n roll Camden wallking tour.' was on repeat.
Last year, a friend suggested I do a Jack the Ripper tour as I know a lot about Jack the Ripper...I said 'That's a good idea but there are dozens of those tours...but I've had this idea to do a walking tour of Camden for years now!' So, now I'm doing the Rock n Roll Camden Walking Tour.
I take people round the famous and infamous spots that a part of Camden's music history...The Electric Ballroom, The Roundhouse, The Hawley Arms, The Dublin Castle...I don't want to give them all away or else you won't come on the tour. I tell you about Punk, Two Tone, Britpop and Amy Winehouse. And hopefully, you'll go back to one of the pubs I told you about and meet someone in a band who will be part of Camden's musical future.
If there had been a tour like this when my friends and I came to Camden in 1997, we would have gone on it.
Follow Alison E. Wise on Twitter: www.twitter.com/djalicat