THE attractions of the capital are numerous but for music lovers, two exhibitions at the O2 will make that trip to London an absolute must.

Sitting side by side in the vast entertainment complex are two diverse and fascinating offerings, both on display in the UK for the first time.

My Name is Prince is the first exhibition ever to look at the life of one of the most enigmatic performers. It features hundreds of artefacts from Paisley Park, Prince’s estate in Minnesota.

There have been Elvis exhibitions before but Elvis on Tour again brings never before seen items and footage of the King of Rock and Roll concentrating on his live shows from 1969 to 1977.

Which of the two exhibitions you choose may well depend on your musical preferences and you do have to buy a ticket for each exhibition separately. I’d have to say that if you choose one above the other the chances are you are missing out as they both offer unique insights into the lives of two genuine icons.

Getting to the O2 is straightforward with the Tube being your best bet. Just take the Jubilee line to North Greenwich, walk out of the station and that familiar dome looms up in front of you.

It has come a long way since its early days celebrating the Millennium and is packed with restaurants and bars offering an almost impossible choice of food and drink. Exhibition ticket holders also qualify for discounts at a number of the eateries.

Standard adult admission tickets for each exhibition are £25 and when you book you have to select an admission time. This is in part to reduce congestion and give you the space to enjoy all the exhibits.

The organisers recommend allocating 90 minutes to your visit to one of the exhibitions, although from first hand experience, if you want to study everything and watch all the film clips, it will take you longer.

Both exhibitions are self-guided. You pick up your headset and magic box on the way in, numbered signs indicate which piece of commentary you should select as you go round and you are free to enter a different world.

Although Elvis and Prince were of very different eras and the two men were totally different in so many ways - Elvis for example wasn’t a song writer, Prince was absolutely prolific - you also begin to appreciate the similarities if you go to both exhibitions.

For a start they both had a liking for excess in the wardrobe department.

In the Prince exhibition you aren’t allowed to take photographs but this does mean that all the stage costumes on display are not enclosed in glass cases. You really can get up close and admire how beautifully made these extravagant numbers are.

Outfits from videos, live shows and awards ceremonies in a riot of colours demand your attention at every turn. Then there are the guitars, again works of art in their own right including several which Prince played on tour or on video.

Concert footage and videos are screened throughout the exhibition which covers Prince’s career as a performer to his untimely death aged 57.

Stage costumes feature prominently too in the Elvis exhibition - those famous jumpsuits complete with rhinestones again demanding your attention.

Although these big.visual items are at the heart of both exhibitions, the highlights for me were the smaller, more detailed exhibits; Prince’s handwritten script for the film Purple Rain (in purple ink, naturally), the tailor’s receipt for Elvis Presley’s tour jumpsuits ($400 each) and the packing trunk full of silk scarves which Elvis would hand out to fans at his concerts.

Most interesting was the footage of Elvis rehearsing for a tour with his band, including him getting an electric shock off the microphone at one point, and a filmed press conference to publicise a tour.

You do get a real feel for both performers and come away with a deeper appreciation of their artistry and their impact on modern music.

The exhibitions are definitely not for fans only. There is so much memorabilia that whichever you choose (and again, budget and time permitting, I’d recommend doing both) you will leave with a feeling that you have been part of something special and with at least one song constantly playing in your head as you get on the Tube.

The description legend is criminally overused these days but both these exhibitions demonstrate that both Elvis and Prince deserve that accolade.


The My Name is Prince exhibition runs until Sunday, January 7

Elvis on Tour runs until Sunday, February 4

Standard adult admission for either exhibition is £25 plus booking fee, first entry is 9am last entry 6pm

For more details and to book visit or

To get to the O2 take the Jubilee Line on the London Underground and get off at North Greenwich