If we had Bill & Ted’s time-travelling phone booth, these are the iconic music events we’d visit

To mark 'Bill & Ted Face the Music' hitting cinemas, NME writers pick landmark events in music history they’d like to travel back in time to

In partnership with Warner Bros.

Every music fan has rued one historic gig or event from the past that they wished they had been at. Well, in the new Bill & Ted movie, Bill & Ted Face the Music, in cinemas now, the offspring of everyone’s favourite totally righteous time-travellers (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) tick a fair few off the bucket list.

After going back in time to meet Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln and Joan Of Arc in 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the latest – and third – edition to the Bill & Ted franchise sees their children going back to music’s past to form a supergroup comprising of Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Mozart.


So it got us thinking – if we had a time machine, what great events from music history would we want to go back to? Here are some of NME’s writers’ picks.

Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones sharing a stage – Chicago, 1981

Muddy Waters, Mick Jagger. Credit: Getty

There’s no real reason to hop back in time for just any old Stones gig (the blues-rock ever-presents are still selling out stadiums now), but this one was extra special. Held in the historic Chicago nightclub Checkerboard Lounge (since sadly closed), 1981’s low-key Muddy Waters concert took things up a notch when Mick and Keith stepped (or in Keith’s case, staggered) onto stage.

Then in their late 30s, the Stones had idolised Muddy since boyhood – and it would have been a total joy to watch, through the haze of cigarette smoke and between the rows of whiskey tumblers, as the three brothers in blues wigged out together. After ’50s gem ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, Ronnie Wood joined for a further four tracks. Muddy sadly passed away two years later – and the Stones would rarely play such an intimate venue again.

Alex Flood

Madonna’s wild and wonderful ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour, 1990

Madonna’s Blonde Ambition Tour in 1990. Credit: Getty


It’s one of my biggest regrets that Madonna was rude enough to stage her landmark ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour before I was born, but perhaps it’s a good thing – had I been in a position to bag front row back in 1990, I probably would’ve been threatened with arrest for almost taking someone’s eye out with a conical bra.

Hot on the heels of Madge’s 1989 album ‘Like A Prayer,’ this tour was wildly ambitious and meticulously choreographed across five sections: without a doubt, its sprawling vision chucked down the gauntlet for virtually every huge pop production that followed it. The show was also highly provocative – the Pope even went out of his way to condemn her, and local police in Toronto paid the crew a visit to warn that they could arrest her for the “lewd and indecent display”.

Unsurprisingly, Madonna refused to back down – instead, she taunted them from the stage during her final Toronto gig. “Do you think that I’m a bad girl?” she asked, “do you think that I deserve to be arrested? I hope so.” Ultimately, the police’s threats turned out to be empty ones, but the artist risked it anyway. Should I ever find myself handed a time machine pass, I’d whizz back 30 years to witness the Queen of Pop’s most gleeful moment of defiance first-hand.

El Hunt

The Beach Boys recording their masterpiece ‘Pet Sounds’, 1965-1966

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson recording ‘Pet Sounds’ in 1966. Credit: Getty

Every music fan would love to go back and get an inside look at the recording of one of their all-time favourite albums. Maybe you’d want to transport yourself to Honolulu, Hawaii in 2009 and be a fly on the wall while Kanye West holed himself up on the tropical island to record ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. Some of the big names you’d witness walking through Ye’s studio doors? Oh, just Rihanna, Elton John, Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys, La Roux and Drake to name a few. Or perhaps you’d take a trip back to Nirvana recording ‘Nevermind’ in 1991 and discover just why Kurt Cobain decided to incorporate the sound of a rubber duck toy on the track ‘Drain You’?

But me, I think that the most mind-bending music time-travelling trips of them all would have to be going back to witness Brian Wilson concoct his pop masterpiece ‘Pet Sounds’. The experience would have everything: Coke cans and water bottles being used as impromptu percussion, instrument choices as obscure as timpanis, güiros, piccolos, electro-theremin and sleigh bells, a co-lyricist who used to write jingles for Barbie ads. Wilson brought dogs in to record their barks as backing vocals – and even considered making room for a guest spot from a horse too. Truly, there would not be a single dull day in the entirety of the sessions.

Luke Morgan Britton

Prince playing London’s O2 Arena… for 21 nights(!), 2007

Prince in London, 2007. Credit: Getty/Kevin Mazur/WireImage

It’d wouldn’t be a long journey back to 2007, but it’s certainly a worthy trip. Beginning on 1st August 2007, Prince held residency at London’s O2 Arena, playing a record breaking 21 nights (all sold out, obviously) over the next two months. Playing in the round with an ever-changing setlist – the Purple One rehearsed 200 songs in advance and used codenames to indicate to his band which song would be played next. Each night was completely different, but he always made sure to play some of the hits.

The reviews were glowing, the grainy videos show a biblical show, and I’d want to live it myself (preferably followed by one of the afterparty shows, which often saw Prince hop on stage and perform). Perhaps it’d be a waste of my one journey, travelling just over a decade into the past to 2007 (and not further, to something like Woodstock ’69 or Nirvana at Reading in ’92); but there’s never been a show I’ve had more FOMO of missing, or an artist I wished more that I’d caught live before they passed away.

Hannah Mylrea

The Beatles defining pop music on The Ed Sullivan Show, 1964

The Beatles with Ed Sullivan in 1964. Credit: Express Newspapers/Getty Images

Of course John, Paul, George and Ringo have to be somewhere on this list. The Beatles might be Liverpool’s favourite sons, but it was their first-ever appearance on US telly in February 1964 that defined them as the biggest band in the world. The impact and legacy of that one fateful evening would only be truly felt in the decades to come, but what we’d give to sit in that Broadway studio and watch history in the making. Sure, the Fab Four may have delivered even greater performances in the years to come, but few were as era-defining as this.

Nick Reilly

Of course, we don’t have a time machine but you can still watch Bill & Ted and their daughter’s reunite with some epic artists in Bill & Ted Face the Music on the big screen now! Find cinema tickets here.

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ is in cinemas now. ©ORION RELEASING LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.