New Yorker Bob Egan has one cool job title. The self-styled ‘pop culture detective’ spends his time tracking down the exact spots famous pop culture events took place. Once sure he’s got the right location an album cover was taken, or a famous film or television show was filmed, he documents, photographs and maps it on his website Pop Spots, superimposing the original vinyl cover on to the location as it looks today. It’s a treasure trove for the music nut and the ultimate travel guide for pop pilgrims. Never walk down Sullivan Street, Greenwich Village without Neil Young’s ‘After The Gold Rush’ on your iPod again.
The location for the cover of The Who’s soundtack to the 1979 documentary The Kids Are Alright is 116th Street and Morningside Drive, Morningside Heights, New York City. The site is part of the Carl Schurz Monument.
Van Morrison fans can go for some backyard chicken at the site where the cover of ‘Too Long In Exile’ was shot outside 246 Pearl Street between Fulton Street and John Street.
The Velvet Underground’s ‘Live At Max’s Kansas City’ (1972) was shot at 213 Park Avenue South, east side between 17th and 18th Street, New York.
Our pop culture detective doesn’t limit himself solely to rock. Here’s the cover of West Side Story, the 1957 Leonard Bernstein musical, superimposed on the street as it looks tonight, tonight. It’s taken in the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood of New York.
Bob Dylan was photographed on the front steps of 4 Gramercy Park West, New York City for the cover of ‘Highway 61 Revisted’ (1965).
The full story behind our sleuth’s discovery of the exact spot where the cover for Neil Young’s ‘After The Gold Rush’. was taken is well worth reading. If you’re in a rush: it’s the corner of Sullivan Street and West 3rd Street, Greenwich Village, New York.
This cover for ‘The New York Dolls’ (1973) by The New York Dolls is one of my favourites. It was taken outside the Gem Spa at the southwest corner of St. Mark’s Place and 2nd Avenue.
You might have been to the location of the cover of Ramones’ ‘Rocket To Russia’ (1977) without knowing it. It was taken outside the back door of popular nocturnal haunt CBGB’S at the end of Extra Place, a small alley running north from East 1st Street between Bowery and Second Avenue.
KISS shot the cover to their 1975 album ‘Dressed To Kill’ on the southwest corner of 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue, looking north, New York.
If you’re not in New York, don’t panic. Brits can make a pilgrimage down to London, where Bob Dylan filmed the famous opening to Don’t Look Back, documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England. The song is ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ and Dylan holds up and shuffles various slogans. It was one of the first music videos ever made. Head down to the intersection of Savoy Hill Road and a dead-end alley called Savoy Steps, near the Thames to see the location.
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This is another account worth reading in full. Egan found the exact site (at the Central Park entrance called Miners’ Gate) where the legendary pretzel vendor worked and starred on the front cover of Steely Dan’s ‘Pretzel Logic’.