Beatles’ Abbey Road studio for sale

By David Cutler

Britain's loss-making music company EMI plans to sell the north London complex which has been the home of British music recording for 80 years.

Abbey Road Studios embodies a slice of British and music recording history. Here are some details:


– The 19th century town house at number 3 Abbey Road, St. John’s Wood, was bought by EMI in 1929 to make the world’s first custom-built recording studios.

– British classical music composer Edward Elgar opened the studios in a ceremony on Nov. 12, 1931. Elgar can be seen in a film of the event, conducting the all-male orchestra through his Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.

– The inaugural recording made at the studios, also conducted by Elgar, was of his Falstaff symphonic study.

– In 1932, 16 year-old violin prodigy Yehudi Menuhin was invited by Elgar to record his own Violin Concerto, the start of Menuhin’s lifelong association with Abbey Road.

– Other regular visitors at that time were Al Bowlly, Ray Noble, Joe Loss, Flanagan and Allen, Paul Robeson, Gertrude Lawrence, Fats Waller and Fred Astaire.


– During World War Two, Abbey Road remained open. It was used for propaganda recordings and BBC broadcasts. Glenn Miller, recorded several titles with singer Dinah Shore in Studio One on September 16 1944, the last recordings he made shortly before his plane disappeared on a flight to Paris a few months later. Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli made most of his recordings at the studio.


– The first British artist to record a number 1 hit single in Abbey Road was trumpeter Eddie Calvert whose record of Oh Mein Papa topped the charts for nine weeks in 1954.

– In 1962, producer George Martin, who had arrived at Abbey Road in 1950, was introduced to the Beatles and produced their first records. The first single from their collaboration, Love Me Do, was released on October 5 and entered the top 20 chart.

– In 1969, the Beatles’ Abbey Road album was recorded, their first entirely in stereo. Traffic outside the studio was stopped for the iconic cover photo of the group walking over a pedestrian crossing. The final mix on August 20 was the last day all four members were together in a recording studio. It was released on September 26 and went on to sell more than 10 million copies.


– Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds, Kiki Dee, XTC, Mike Oldfield, Jeff Beck, Tom Robinson and Kirsty MacColl all recorded there during the 1970s.

– Following the success of films such as Star Wars and Superman, the studio became the industry’s first choice for recording film scores outside the United States. In 1996, Abbey Road Interactive was developed by owners EMI Music and Apple Computer and a unit for the production of compact discs that combine music, video, graphics, animation, text and speech was opened.

– In 2007 a television music series Live From Abbey Road, consisting of 12 hour-long sessions each featuring three major acts, was aired in more than 120 countries.




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