Rock 'academy' that coached the stars fights for its life

Rock and pop stars have backed a campaign to save a school which has prepared hundreds of young people for careers in the business.

The London Music School (LMS), housed in an East End warehouse, is due to close at the end of October unless it can quickly find alternative, affordable premises. The school has trained hundreds of hopefuls from Britain and abroad in skills such as guitar, vocals, bass, drums, sound engineering and music technology since it was founded in 1984 by the late Ian Dury's former girlfriend, bass player Denise Roudette.

But now its lease is running out and the freeholder, a large property company, is determined to replace the former 19th century tea warehouse with 10 luxury flats.

Stars who have rallied to the LMS's support – by writing letters opposing the development – include Oasis, Queen guitarist Brian May, musician and broadcaster Jools Holland, and, before he died in June, The Who's bass player John Entwistle. Graduates of the school include Martin Carling, now drummer with "trip-hop" band Morcheeba, Stefan Olsdal, guitarist with Goth rockers Placebo and drummer Ian Mussington of grunge band Soul Asylum. Many former LMS students have made careers as session musicians, playing with acts as diverse as Bjork, the Bee Gees and Mica Paris.

One of the school's biggest successes is completely unknown in Britain – but singer Gao Feng is a million-selling superstar in China and the Far East. Last year, half the 150 students came from 23 foreign countries including Cyprus, France, India, Israel, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Sweden, Turkey and the US. Those from Britain included several from the school's deprived hinterland in East London.

The LMS is one of very few pop "academies" in the UK, the closest being the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, which was set up in 1996 with the backing of Sir Paul McCartney.

The school is upstairs from and under the same ownership as The Bass Centre and The Acoustic Centre, specialist guitar shops whose customers read like a Who's Who of rock and pop music: Sir Paul, Oasis, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, The Who, Radiohead, Genesis, Manic Street Preachers, U2, Jamiroquai, Queen, Wet, Wet, Wet, Bryan Adams – even The Spice Girls. Bon Jovi dropped by before their London gig last week.

The Bass Centre's owner, Barry Moorhouse, started working for an orchestral hire business based in the warehouse in 1976, and opened the Bass Centre in 1984. He bought his upstairs neighbour, the LMS, formerly the Musicians Institute, when it fell into the hands of receivers in 1999. He feels "deeply let down" by the Government since a planning inspector in John Prescott's department found in favour of the developers, Macleod and Fairbriar, in July. "After all that talk about Cool Britannia, it makes you wonder what's important to these people," he said. "Twenty people may lose their jobs. Two hundred students will be let down. Hundreds of local people and local businesses objected to the planning application. So did all these these rock stars. Twenty years of pop history will be lost. Yet none of this matters; it's all been ignored so that a property company can build 10 half-a-million-pound flats."

The LMS's administrator, Diana Mole, said: "We're not trying to turn out pop stars but people with the skills to make a solid career in one of Britain's most successful industries, which was worth more than £1bn last year."

The school in Wapping High Street, is one of the few "real" businesses providing jobs for local people and supporting the local economy. Ms Mole, who lives locally, said: "We've put a lot into this area in terms of jobs, and giving opportunities to kids from Tower Hamlets, which overall is still a deprived borough. Does Wapping need another swanky block of flats occupied by rich people?" Staff blame Tower Hamlets council for not standing up for the school. The Labour borough's own development plan says that educational establishments are protected from the change of use planned for the LMS, but planners were equivocal about whether it qualified and advised the flats scheme should get the go-ahead.

Councillors turned it down, but Macleod and Fairbriar won an appeal to the Secretary of State this month. Hiring lawyers and planning consultants has all but exhausted Mr Moorhouse's resources, and closure of the school and the instrument shops now looks inevitable unless a saviour can be found.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis