Tyler Francischine
May 2020

The United States has produced countless musicians who have enriched the lives of people around the world. Take a tour through the stages, streets and studios that gave the legends of rock, soul, jazz and the blues their star power, with this guide to important American music landmarks. 

Paisley Park, Minneapolis
On a main thoroughfare in an unassuming Minneapolis suburb stands a huge white building that once served as the home, recording studio and performance venue for Minnesota’s musical genius Prince. Today, visitors can take guided tours of the campus, which opened in 1987, and walk the studios where the artist recorded some of his biggest hits.

Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles
The Whisky, as this legendary club is commonly known, served as the launching pad for future superstars such as The Doors, Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses. In 2006, it became the first music venue to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Preservation Hall, New Orleans
What began in the 1950s as an art gallery where New Orleans jazz greats held rehearsal sessions is now a storied venue that offers live jazz 350 days a year. Visitors to this tiny French Quarter landmark know that you must arrive early—and that maintaining any semblance of personal space is out of the question.

Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco
Named after an intersection but encompassing an epochal cultural movement, the Haight-Ashbury was the birthplace of 1960s superbands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Today’s visitors lament the Ben and Jerry’s which now sits on the corner, but the neighborhood’s spirit lives on in old-school shops, bars and small museums.

Sun Studio, Memphis
The self-proclaimed birthplace of rock ’n’ roll and home to the Million Dollar Quartet (an impromptu jam session of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash), Sun Studio now offers visitors guided tours of the historic space.

Cafe Wha?, New York City
In the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village is a cafe where Beat poet Allen Ginsberg once sipped cocktails and listened to performances from the likes of Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. Crowds still gather in the intimate space to hear live music from house bands.

The Crossroads, Mississippi
According to legend, one midnight in the early 1930s, guitarist Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at this deserted intersection in exchange for the skills to become a Mississippi Delta blues great. Today, a large monument featuring several guitars reminds travelers of the bluesman's mythical origin story.

Electric Lady Studios, New York City
When Jimi Hendrix bought a defunct Greenwich Village nightclub and transformed it into a professional recording studio in 1968, it became the first artist-owned studio in the world. More recently, musicians like Childish Gambino, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd have produced albums in the storied space.

The Motown Museum, Detroit
Hitsville U.S.A. is what Motown founder Berry Gordy called the building where he worked and lived with his family in the record label’s earliest days. Visitors can tour the garage-turned-studio where timeless hits like “My Girl” and “Please Mr. Postman” were recorded, as well as view the upstairs flat where the family dining room table doubled as the Motown shipping department.

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, New York
It may have started out as Max Yasgur’s farm, but after three days in 1969, this rural area of New York captured the zeitgeist of the era when it hosted the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Today, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and The Museum at Bethel Woods pay homage to the music that defined a generation.

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