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Before they were famous: music‐based tourism and a musician's hometown roots

David Leaver (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Ruth A. Schmidt (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 9 October 2009




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the nature of music‐based tourism in the context of the childhood locations of music icons from the 1950s and 1960s. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley are selected and fieldwork is carried out in Hibbing, Liverpool, Lubbock, Memphis and Tupelo.


A normative approach is chosen using existing work on music‐based tourism as a backdrop. Key informant interviews are the main sources of primary data with a snowball technique used to gain access. Content and theme analysis is used.


Music‐based tourism is emotion driven with ideas of pilgrimage, nostalgia and heritage centring on sites of production of music; birth and death of individual artists; and places which shaped their early history. The demographic base of this market segment is widening to include both “baby‐boomers” and younger visitors for whom these music icons have become part of pop culture. It is important to recognise the sensitivities of these visitors and authenticity is a key factor.


This study is of interest to managers involved in promoting tourism and the marketing of place. It provides detail from major cities such as Liverpool to small towns such as Hibbing, Minnesota with a population of 18,000.



Leaver, D. and Schmidt, R.A. (2009), "Before they were famous: music‐based tourism and a musician's hometown roots", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 2 No. 3, pp. 220-229.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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