Pop icons at home in rare photos: Freddie, Bowie, Elton, Rod and their outlandish houses

12 August 2019, 10:51 | Updated: 12 August 2019, 16:13

Behind the scenes: David Bowie, Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury pictured at home.
Behind the scenes: David Bowie, Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury pictured at home. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

From sprawling Cotswolds mansions filled with horses and dogs to silver painted flats in Kent and mid-century L.A. houses, we take a look at the weird and wonderful homes that these legendary music stars bought with their early pay checks.

  1. David Bowie

    David Bowie and his wife Angie moved to the sprawling home of Haddon Hall in Kent from 1969 until 1971 and musical historians widely attribute his time in the house with the "invention" of Ziggy Stardust.

    Read More: Instagram photographer reveals amazing private snaps of Bowie, George and Elton

    David Bowie at his home, Haddon Hall in Beckenham, Kent, 20th April 1971
    David Bowie and wife Angie rented to ground floor flat of Haddon Hall in Kent for £7 a week from 1969 until 1972. Picture: Getty

    The couple rented to ground floor flat for just £7 a week and an assortment of other musicians lived in the rest of the building - the Spiders from Mars were in the flat upstairs.

    Read more: How David Bowie proposed to Iman is the most romantic thing we've ever heard

    The now-demolished building became known for its cavernous rooms and long corridors.

    David Bowie and wife Angie, at home, Haddon Hall in Beckenham, Kent, 20th April 1971.
    David's wife Angie would cut his hair and stitched the first Ziggy Stardust outfit in the main sitting room of their Haddon Hall flat. The couple and a friend pictured in 1971. Picture: Getty
    David Bowie holding an LP at his ground floor flat at Haddon Hall, where he has been redecorating the ceiling in silver paint, Beckenham, Kent on 24th April 1972.
    David Bowie holding an LP at his ground floor flat at Haddon Hall, where he has been redecorating the ceiling in silver paint, Beckenham, Kent on 24th April 1972. Picture: Getty

    See: David Bowie being impressed by George Michael performing a Queen song is so powerful to watch

    David and Angie painted the ceiling of the sitting room silver and would hold huge parties in the house's wild garden.

    David Bowie plays the piano at Haddon Hall, Kent in 1971
    David Bowie plays the piano at Haddon Hall, Kent in 1971. Picture: Getty
  2. Elton John

    While Elton John has homes all over the world, the house that has been a constant in his life is his Old Windsor estate, purchased in 1974.

    Read more: Elton John's forgotten ex-fiancée speaks out about cancelled wedding: "I thought he loved me"

    Woodside, situated on the outskirts of Windsor Great Park, is Elton and partner David Furnish's main home is nestled among 37 acres of woodland and gardens.

    Elton John puts the contents of his home under auction at Sotheby's, London, 1988.
    Elton John puts the contents of his home under auction at Sotheby's, London, 1988. Picture: Getty

    Originally built in the 1500s, the house has been rebuilt three times, most recently in 1947 in a 'post war mock tudor' style.

    Read more: Meghan Markle 'asks Elton John to teach her baby the piano' after Royal Wedding performance

    In 1988, after Elton John became clean and sober, he decided to sell the contents of his Windsor home in a four-day auction at Sotheby's in London.

    Elton John at his home in Windsor on June 4 1981 during filming for a videogram 'The Fox'
    Elton John at his home in Windsor on June 4 1981 during filming for a videogram 'The Fox'. Picture: Getty
    Elton John at his home in Windsor on June 4 1981 during filming for a videogram 'The Fox'
    Elton John at his home in Windsor on June 4 1981 during filming for a videogram 'The Fox'. Picture: Getty

    The house was described by Elton as "a parody of his younger self" and contained "a lot of kitsch...it was more of an Aladdin's cave than a home," he said.

    Read more: Elton John shares beautiful story about Freddie Mercury's battle with AIDS

    Lots that went under the hammer included juke boxes, pinball machines, numerous costumes from the singer's world tours and a replica of Tutankhamun's state throne.

    Elton John pictured at his home, sitting on a small motorbike in front of four of his cars. His cars include a Mercedes (2nd left) and a white Rolls Royce (3rd left) Picture taken 4th April 1972.
    Elton John sitting on a small motorbike in front of four of his cars. His cars include a Mercedes (2nd left) and a white Rolls Royce (3rd left) Picture taken 4th April 1972. Picture: Getty
  3. Rod Stewart

    Another star to make his home in Old Windsor, the grounds of Rod Stewart's home were almost as impressive as his sprawling house.

    Read more: Rod Stewart reveals how he wrote 'Maggie May' about losing his virginity at 16

    Pictured in 1971 by legendary photographer Terry O'Neill, Rod shows off his menagerie of dogs and horses at his 18th century house, Cranbourne Court.

    Rod Stewart posing in a leopard skin suit with a horse and foal at his home in Old Windsor, 1971
    Rod Stewart posing in a leopard skin suit with his horse and foal at his home in Old Windsor, 1971. Picture: Getty

    The photos were taken almost a decade before Rod penned the hit song 'The Wild Horse', confirming the star's long affinity with horses.

    Read more: Rod Stewart donates £10k to model railway club after vandals destroy life's work

    The Scottish singer owned the estate from 1971 to 1976 and lived there with various girlfriends including model Dee Harrington, actress Britt Eckland and when he dated a young Joanna Lumley.

    Horse grazing outside Rod Stewart's Old Windsor home on July 25, 1975
    Horse grazing outside Rod Stewart's Old Windsor home on July 25, 1975. Picture: Getty
    Rod Stewart in the garden of his home at Windsor, Berkshire, 15th August 1973
    Rod Stewart in the garden of his home at Windsor, Berkshire, 15th August 1973. Picture: Getty

    The property had previously been home to a myriad of well-known residents including Admiral Sir Charles Rowley, General Sir Thomas Willshire, the Victorian actress Edna May.

    Read more: Elton John, Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury almost started a supergroup together

    Rod Stewart pictured with his rough collie in the garden of his home at Windsor, Berkshire, 15th August 1973
    Rod Stewart pictured with his rough collie in the garden of his home at Windsor, Berkshire, 15th August 1973. Picture: Getty
  4. Freddie Mercury

    Intimate moments capture Freddie Mercury's relationship with girlfriend Mary Austin as they relax together at home at Freddie's house, Garden Lodge in West Kensington, in 1977.

    The pair met in 1969 when Mary was just 19-years-old and Freddie was 24.

    Read More: Who is Mary Austin? Meet the woman Freddie Mercury asked to marry

    Freddie and Mary would go on to be together for two years, and even moved in together and became engaged before Freddie revealed his sexuality to her.

    Freddie Mercury (R) drinking a class of champagne as his girlfriend Mary Austin looks on during party for friends at home in 1977
    Freddie Mercury drinking a glass of champagne as his girlfriend Mary Austin looks on during party for friends at home in 1977. Picture: Getty

    See more: Freddie Mercury in private: rarely seen photos of the star behind closed doors

    They remained close for the rest of his life and Mary was entrusted with much of the star's estate - including Garden Lodge - upon his death from AIDS-related pneumonia at the Kensington home in 1991.

    Unearthed Freddie Mercury interview: Star reflects on his own death in new documentary - video

    Queen posed in lead singer Freddie Mercury's flat, Holland Road, West Kensington, London in early 1974. Left to right: Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), Brian May (bottom) and John Deacon.
    Queen posing in lead singer Freddie Mercury's flat, Holland Road, West Kensington, London in early 1974. Left to right: Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), Brian May (bottom) and John Deacon. Picture: Getty

    Read more: Did Freddie Mercury really take Princess Diana to a London gay pub in the '80s?

    The walls surrounding Garden Lodge became a shrine to the star after his death, leading Time Out to declare in 1994: “Since Freddie’s death, the wall outside the house has become London’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll shrine”.

    Freddie Mercury during an interview with the Daily Express at his Shepherds Bush flat, London, 1969
    Freddie Mercury during an interview with the Daily Express at his Shepherds Bush flat, London, 1969. Picture: Getty

    Located on Logan Place near Earl's Court, fans often travel from across the world to try and catch a glimpse of the large Edwardian house where Freddie lived happily for almost two decades.

    Video: Remembering Freddie Mercury's final public appearance at the 1990 Brit Awards

    With a high wall protecting the large garden and property from prying eyes, fans still pay their respects by leaving tributes and flowers around the perimeter of the property.

    Freddie Mercury posing for a portrait in 1975 at his home in Holland Park, London
    Freddie Mercury posing for a portrait in 1975 at his home in Holland Park, London. Picture: Getty
  5. Cher

    Previously to owning the impressive Owlwood Estate in Beverly Hills - currently on the market for $115 million - Sonny and Cher bought in a mid-century home in Encino, California from 1966 to 1970, a year after their song 'I Got You Babe' became a worldwide hit.

    Video: Cher playing 'Lip Sync Karaoke' to random people singing is absolutely hilarious

    Riding on the back of their newfound success, the happy couple installed security gates adorned with the large initials "C" and "S" - a quirky detail the current owner, Kenneth Lee, kept as a focal point in the backyard of the Los Angeles home.

    Sonny & Cher, aka husband and wife Sonny Bono and Cher, pictured outside their Encito home circa 1965
    Sonny & Cher, aka husband and wife Sonny Bono and Cher, pictured outside their Encino home circa 1965. Picture: Getty
    Sonny & Cher pose for a portrait session at their home in Encino in August 1966 in Los Angeles, California
    Sonny & Cher pose for a portrait session at their home in Encino in August 1966 in Los Angeles, California. Picture: Getty

    Cher's neighbours became as equally used to seeing the singer parading around her garden in pink hot pants, as they were to finding fans queueing outside the couple's house for autographs in the hot summer sun.

    Video: This bluesy twist on Cher's 'Believe' is really something special - video

    Sonny reportedly wrote hits such as "The Beat Goes On" and "It's the Little Things" in the front room of the home and scenes from the pair's 1967 movie Good Times were filmed in the Encino property.

    Sonny & Cher picture in their Encino, Los Angeles home in 1968.
    Sonny & Cher picture in their Encino, Los Angeles home in 1968. Picture: Getty
    Sonny & Cher at the entrance to their house, in Encino, California, circa 1968
    Sonny & Cher at the entrance to their house, in Encino, California, circa 1968. Picture: Getty