The Who Sings My Generation - Album Cover Location - London, England
(above) The album cover for The Who's "The Who Sings My Generation" album (first released with a different cover by Brunswick Records in the U.K. in 1965 ; then released with this cover by Decca Records in the USA in 1966. Both cover photographs by David Wedgebury.)
First, the the album cover's general location: Across the street from Big Ben in London.
Now to be more specific: On top of the steps next to the statue of Queen Boadicea's (and her chariot) where Westminster Bridge meets Victoria Embankment.
Notice the match up between the pointed corner of the cornice of the statue base and piece of the cornice you can see on the album cover.
The WHO are looking down the steps to the photographer who is beneath them in order to get the extreme angle up to the clock tower.
(Thanks for this picture goes to Friend-of-PopSpots, Francesco Falciano, of Italy, who volunteered to take this picture while visiting London, to replace the photo composite I had previously.)
And a telephoto shot from across the Thames River, showing the steps and indicating, with an arrow, the direction upward of the photo.
And , to put it all into perspective, here's an overhead shot of the area. (And yes, V for Vendetta fans that's the same Parliament building that is Guy Fawkes' ill-fated target in the movie.)
HOW I FOUND THE LOCATION (OK...I didn't need to be a rocket scientist to find Big Ben, but it took a litle more digging to get the exact location of the shot.)
I kept running across this album when I was doing the PopSpot for The Who's album The Kid's Are Alright, and I decided to see if I could find the exact location. So I went to Google Images and clicked on the first copy I saw and studied it.
Other than Big Ben in the background there were really no other clues as to the shoot's exact location. So figured it was just a random photo of The Who sandwiched onto a picture of Big Ben in the way they did PhotoShop back in the 60's. I GoogleStreetViewed around Big Ben for a little while, but that didn't add any clues either.
But a good rock 'n roll detective always goes back to the drawing board, at least one more last time (as my daughter used to say), just to see if he or she is missed anything.
So I went back to Google Images and noticed something new on several of the album cover photos. Can you spot it?
It's not the cover of the band looking up - that's the UK version of the album that came out a year before.
But did you notice that in the two shots of the album on the right hand side there's a little black triangle about 1/3 of the way down the right edge?
That wasn't there in the first album cover I grabbed off of Google Images. Nor is it in half the images you get on Google. People just crop the album for their websites and leave it out. But for a Who-Hunter (that sounds like a Dr. Seuss character) it's the clue that cracked the case.
I have a litle knowledge of architecture, so I could tell that the little triangle was actually where two pieces of decorative moulding came together. Perhaps the roof of a small building? Who knew? (no pun intended). So I poked around on Google Street View in the area pretty much directly beneath Big Ben which is one of the ends of Westminster Bridge.
It did not take too long to find my prey. Because right in front of me was a statue of a woman in a chariot, flanked my horses with a base that had a perfect in-your-face classical moulding like in the picture.
And I could see, by looking at it from another angle, that was positioned in the right place for The Who picture.
Going back to Google, on Wikipedia I found out that the statue was called Queen Boadicea's Statue, and commemorates the queen of an early Celtic tribe who led an uprising against forces of the Roman Empire. Her daughters are also in the bronze war chariot. Here's an old picture of it from 1960.
...And a cool ("Cool Britannia") poster from the transit company.
I also discovered that a short piece of film, shot from this same angle, looking up at Big Ben from next to the statue, was used for many years (1960-1969) in the begining of Pathe newreels and (my own thinking) The Who may have been trying to replicate this well known view for Britishers. (to see the clip: Google: British Pathe, then type in "Queen Boadicea's Statue")
Because Google Steet View doesn't go down steps, I can't find the prefect shot looking up to match the album cover. (But if someone want to take on and send it in, I will credit you.) Here's the steps - circa 1885.
Here again are our four mods again as they look down the steps at the photographer.
(photo: Francesco Falciano for PopSpots)
And here is another view of where the statue is in relation to Big Ben and the bridge....
...and a close up of the stairs showing the angle of the picture.
And we'll close with a picture of the British version of the album taken by David Wedgbury at the Surrey Docks in southeast London, which came out a year prior to the U.S. version. And the rest is Who-stery!
Talkin' 'bout my ggggggggggggggggggggg...generation!