When you think of musical performances, there are some undeniably iconic gigs that will always stand out. Live Aid at Wembley, The Beatles on the roof of Apple’s offices, Nirvana’s MTV unplugged set, The Sex Pistols on the River Thames, there are countless performances that will forever hold a place in music history.

While Kent might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of historic performances, you might be surprised to learn that we’ve hosted some of music’s most iconic names. Moreover, some of these concerts took place at the dawn of truly legendary musical careers.

Our humble county has a lot to boast about when it comes to music, give birth to the Rolling Stones to a number of our have incredible venues that host exceptional talent every year , there is no denying that we have something to brag about. So, with the summer festival season fast approaching, we take a look at some of the most iconic names to have played in Kent over the years.

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Jimi Hendrix, Folkestone, 1966, Chatham, 1967

Jimi Hendrix backstage at Chatham in December 1967

Jimi Hendrix, one of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll and the man who pioneered what the genre would be known for, put on a show in our own Folkestone on New Year’s Eve 1966 and Chatham on December 1, 1967. Playing such iconic hits as Foxy Thing, Purple Haze and Hey Joe, Hendrix wasn’t the only big name at the Medway show.

Joining him at Central Hall in Chatham was also Pink Floyd, one of England’s most renowned and successful rock bands, which is still hugely popular today. Unfortunately, Hendrix would not die until a few years after this show, dying at the age of 27 in 1970.

David Bowie, Chatham, 1973

David Bowie on stage at the Dome Theater Brighton - Ziggy Stardust in May 1973.
David Bowie on stage at the Dome Theater Brighton – Ziggy Stardust in May 1973.

Staying in Chatham for this one, another rock legend also performed in Central Hall. As Ziggy and the Spiders, David Bowie took to the stage on June 12, 1973. With the release of several hugely popular albums already, his set included such iconic tracks as Moonage Daydream, Space Oddity and Time.

That’s not Bowie’s only connection to Kent, as the late great Ziggy Stardust lived in Maidstone in the early 1960s when he was in rhythm and blues band The Manish Boys. He lived in an apartment in the city with six other band members, also from the area.

The Beatles, Margate, Chatham, 1963

Left to right: George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon pictured at Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent
Left to right: George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon pictured at Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent

That’s right, arguably the most famous band to ever exist, The Beatles themselves have performed in Kent on several occasions. In 1963, they performed at both Margate Winter Gardens and the Invicta Chatham Ballroom.

Having not released their debut album Please Please Me in a long time, these concerts took place at the dawn of one of the most legendary musical careers in history. Die-hard Beatles fans will surely know that this isn’t Kent’s only connection to the Fab Four, as Knole Park was the setting for their Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane music videos made in 1967.

The Rolling Stones, Rochester, 1964

Rolling Stones concert at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire on August 22, 1976
The Rolling Stones are one of the biggest bands to come out of Kent

Arguably the biggest band to come out of Kent, the Rolling Stones debuted in Dartford , with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger both born here and attending the same school. It would be a fateful meeting on a local train platform that would actually bring the two together to form one of the greatest rock bands in history.

So it’s no surprise that the Stones have performed in Kent before. More precisely, the group made the front page of the Odéon theater in Rochester on February 15, 1964, before they had even released their first album, simply titled “The Rolling Stones”.

Oasis, Tunbridge Wells, 1994

Oasis are just one of the mega-bands to play at the Army and Navy pub
Oasis redefined Britpop in the 90s

Although they’re known for their controversial antics and notorious breakup, there’s no denying that Oasis are one of the most popular bands to come out of the UK in recent history. Having completely reinvented Britpop in the 90s and forming a legacy that will surely stand the test of time, their music remains popular today.

Kent got a taste of the band Supersonic in 1994 when they performed at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells on March 26, playing hits such as Live Forever and Cigarettes & Alcohol. Interestingly, this concert took place before the release of their hit debut album Definitely Maybe, which will be released later this year on August 24th, which may explain why live hits such as Rock ‘n’ Roll Star do not appear on the set-list.

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