top of page
  • Writer's pictureCommunity Bridges

Peckham’s Sound and Vision

This is a whistle stop tour through some of Peckham's rich and diverse musical history.

We start with Camberwell College of Arts whose students have included Syd Barrett, Florence Welsh (Florence & the Machine) and Karl Hyde (Underworld). Barrett founded the Pink Floyd band in 1965 and was it’s talisman until being kicked out by the other band members in 1968.


In 1963 the Who (then known as the Detours) played their very first gig at the Paradise Club. Long gone now, this venue was close to where the Clayton Arms stands. Also long gone is the Walmer Castle which hosted many jazz greats during the 60’s and 70’s. It was not unusual for visiting American musicians to play in the West End on Friday and Saturday night and end their trip playing at this venue on Sunday.


Bob Marley in the playground of Peckham Manor School

In 1972 Bob Marley came to London accompanied by Johnny Nash who, at that time, was a better known artist outside Jamaica. They met a secondary school art teacher at a West End nightclub leading to Nash and Marley playing two lunchtime acoustic gigs in the gym at Peckham Manor School in Cator Street. Now demolished this school was on the site where the Damilola Taylor Centre now stands. Marley returned to London the following year and played a gig at Mr B's (now Bouncing Ball). Others who played there include U-Roy, Eddie Floyd and the Heptones.

An important precursor to punk was the genre of Pub Rock and the Newlands Tavern (now the Ivy House) played a key role in it's development. Among those who played there were Ian Dury, Dr. Feel good and Elvis Costello.


Between 1982 and 1986 the Mad Professor had his studio in Peckham. Amongst artists recording there were Lee ‘Scratch' Perry and Johnny Clarke. His importance in music history is huge and for his connections to Peckham deserves pride of place in this article.

The derelict DSS building on Collyer Place was taken over by a collective of anarchist punks and eco warriors in 1989 and 1990, who included the Levellers, Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys and the 7 Kevins.


Moving rapidly forward to the 21st century the Bussey Building & CLF Art Cafe were thankfully spared the fate of becoming a tram depot!

Apologies to all omitted but amongst artists who have played there are Fred Wesley, Brian Jackson, Afrika Bambata and Belle & Sebastian.



bottom of page