Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road Studios is the world’s premier recording, mixing and mastering facility.

  • Originally a nine-bedroom Georgian townhouse built in 1831
  • House bought by The Gramophone Company in 1929. Later went on to amalgamate with Columbia Gramophone Company to form EMI, which took over the studios and dubbed them EMI Studios
  • Opened in 1931 as the world’s first purpose built recording studios.
  • The studio was renamed Abbey Road Studios in 1970 after the Beatles album.

1930s

  • Abbey Road Studios – then known as EMI Studios – the world’s first purpose built recording facility opens its doors on the 12th November 1931
  • Distinguished composer Sir Edward Elgar conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in Studio 1 for the official opening ceremony. Elgar addresses the orchestra “Good morning gentlemen. A very light programme this morning. Please play as if you’ve never played before.”
  • EMI engineer and prolific inventor Allan Blumlein lodges the patent for ‘Binaural Sound’ – essential for stereo records, films and surround sound. He also patents the EMI HB1A microphone used by the BBC and Abbey Road. The follow year the fifth and best version of this microphone is released and still in use at Abbey Road Studios today.
  • The coronation of King George VI on 12th May 1937 is recorded at Abbey Road Studios via a land line from Westminster Abbey

1940s

  • Abbey Road Studios remains open and in use during the war years and are involved in recordings for the British Government. Winston Churchill broadcasts are simultaneously recorded at Abbey Road and released by EMI as a set of recordings bearing his image.
  • In 1944 Glenn Miller records in Studio 1.These recordings were his last before his death in a plane accident. They remained un-released for 50 years until his ‘Lost Recordings’ album was finally released in 1996.
  • EMI landmark magnetic tape recorder, the BTR 1 (British Tape Recorder) is invented in 1947. The technology that made this machine possible was discovered after a team of engineers, including Abbey Roads’ E.W. Berth-Jones, inspected captured German equipment.

1950s

  • George Martin begins working at Abbey Road Studios.
  • In 1952 Max Bygraves’ ‘Cowpuncher’s Cantata’ becomes the first Abbey Road recording to enter the Official UK Singles Chart.
  • EMI launches the first portable tape recorder, the LA 2A, much used by Abbey Road Studios for ‘field work.’
  • Abbey Road has its first Number 1 recording in 1954 with “Oh Mein Papa” by trumpeter Eddie Calvert.
  • Cliff Richard has his first audition at Abbey Road in 1957.

1960s

  • Abbey Road develops into an experimental sound lab. If they didn’t have equipment that created a sound an artist or producer wanted, engineers in white lab-coats invented and build it for them.
  • The Beatles make their first demo recording in 1962.
  • In 1964 EMI introduces the REDD.51 mixing console to Abby Road – the model most famously used by the Beatles to great experimental success.
  • Abbey Road technician Ken Townsend invents ADT (Automatic Double Tracking) as a time saving devise that emulates the sound of the same part being played twice. This effect is used heavily by the Beatles.
  • The Beatles performed ‘All You Need is Love’ for the first live worldwide satellite broadcast, from Studio 1.
  • The Beatles last album, ‘Abbey Road’, is recorded on EMI’s new line of transistor mixing consoles, the TG12345. This is the first console in the world to have both EQ and compressors on every channel, a trend that has carried through to this day.

1970s

  • Pink Floyds first UK No.1 Album ’Atom Heart Mother’ is entirely recorded at Abbey Road Studios. The album was subsequently remixed into QUAD sound at Abbey Road Studios, acknowledged today as an early incarnation of surround sound.
  • 16 Track recoding starts being used at Abbey Road.
  • Pink Floyd and Abbey Road engineers spend two months in the studio trying to create an album made up entirely of tape loops, an early incarnation of what is known today as sampling.

1980s

  • Ken Townsend, Studio General Manager strikes a partnership deal with Anvil Post Production to offer The Studios services as a location to record film scores.
  • The first completed film score recording, is ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ with John Williams and, fittingly given their role in Abbey Road’s opening night, The London Symphony Orchestra.
  • Film-scoring business at Abbey Road goes from strength to strength with ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’, ‘Aliens’, Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ and Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘The Last Emperor’ just a few of the worldwide blockbusters that chose The Studios as the location for their scoring work.

1990s

  • The Abbey Road Studios interactive team produce the first UK commercially available DVD – Queens ‘Greatest Flix’, followed by the first feature film ‘The Graduate.’
  • Abbey Road Studios engineers develop and push the boundaries of the increasing popular 5.1 surround sound format with one of its most high profile release, The Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’ remix.
  • By now film scoring is a staple of life at Abbey Road Studios with films such as ‘Memphis Belle,’ ‘Apollo 13,’ ‘Shrek’ and Mel Gibson’s ‘Braveheart’ passing through the doors.

2000s

  • ‘Fat pipe’ internet connection installed at Abbey Road Studios to allow ’The Lord of Rings’ films to be simultaneously recorded and mixed in London whilst being dubbed in New Zealand.
  • Major worldwide blockbusters continue to record their scores at Abbey Road Studios, recent highlights include ‘Skyfall,’(the score and theme by Adele were recorded there)’ Les Miserables,’ and ‘The Hobbit.’
  • Fittingly ‘The King’s Speech,’ score was also recorded at The Studios which had played a part in the original broadcast by King Georg VI in 1939 when the studios were used to relay audio for the BBC Broadcast.
  • Abbey Road launched software emulations of its renowned classic pieces of studio equipment, used on many famous recordings, most recently these have included the famous ‘REDD desk.
  • Abbey Road scores another broadcast first with the first ever 3D webcast coming live from Abbey Road Studio One.
  • Abbey Road Studios launched online mastering and mixing services giving artists all over the world access to their award-winning engineers.
  • Abbey Road has two television programmes Live from Abbey Road and Abbey Road Debuts and works with many international broadcasters across television, radio and online.
  • The famous crossing just outside Abbey Road Studios becomes Grade II listed, giving it protected status as a location of historical and cultural significance. In fact, it’s the only protected crossing in the world.
  • No. 3 Abbey Road also becomes a Grade II listed building.
  • Every year around 300,000 people make a pilgrimage to recreate the famous album cover and leave a message on the wall outside Abbey Road Studios,
  • making Abbey Road one of the most popular tourist attractions in London.
  • The Abbey Road crossing webcam is a big draw. There are over 4 million visits to the Abbey Road website every year.
  • The Studios remain a destination for world renowned artists. We’ve welcomed Kanye West, Lady Gaga, The Killers, Florence & The Machine and Adele through our doors to name just a few.
  • Today Abbey Road Studios, the most famous recording studios in the world, is positioned as a premium brand and maintains its position as an authority in recording innovation with facilities, equipment and engineers second to none.

Studio One

1. Studio One hosted opening ceremony and Sir Edward Elgar conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the recording of Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, Land of Hope and Glory,

2. Stereo recording was patented at Abbey Road Studios by EMI engineer Alan Blumlein and his team in Studio One

3. The first worldwide live TV satellite broadcast was of The Beatles performing All You Need Is Love from Studio One in 1967.

4. Abbey Road Studios hosted the world’s first live 3D music webcast in Studio One, for the band Keane in April 2009.

5. Studio One is home to many of the worlds most celebrated film scores including Raiders of the Lost Ark (first major film score), Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The King’s Speech, Skyfall, Gravity

6. Studio One has hosted performances and recordings from Glenn Miller, Jacqueline du Pre, Sting, Kanye West, Stevie Wonder. Tom Jones, Kylie Minogue.

Studio Two

1. The main room has not been changed since 1931 except for the 4 large screens, which were added in the 50’s in order to provide isolation rooms. In 2016 two state of the art isolation booths were installed.

2. Big bands used Studio 2 in the 50’s and rock bands took over in the later decades. Names such as Kate Bush, Cliff Richard, Wings, Siouxie and the Banshees, Elton John, Oasis, Radiohead and Texas have all used the studio.

3. Beatles recorded 190 of their 210 songs (mostly in Studio 2) and it was essentially their artistic home from their first audition in 1962 to the breakup in 1970, and it has remained relatively unchanged from those days.

4. Pink Floyd also recorded Dark Side of the Moon in Studio 2, and it is still used every day by artists including U2, Green Day and Ed Sheeran

5. The room is used to record big bands, both small scale classical and film recordings and rock bands

Abbey Road Studios 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, London NW8 9AY +44 (0)207 266 7000 www.abbeyroad.com

Studio Three

1. During the 1930’s & 1940’s, Studio 3 was used by dance bands and for piano and vocal recordings. The 1970’s saw a lot of progressive rock bands utilising Studio 3. The studio itself was completely different back then with the control room being situated where the live room is now

2. The studio was completely rebuilt in 1988. Designed by Japanese acoustic designer Sam Toyoshima.

3. The Beatles recorded Revolver in 1966. It was also favoured by Pink Floyd, who recorded many albums in there, including Wish You Were Here and a lot of the overdubs for Dark Side of the Moon

4. Other acts to use the studio include Manic Street Preachers, Depeche Mode, Spice Girls, Foo Fighters, Florence and the Machine, Lady Gaga, Ellie Goulding and Frank Ocean to name but a few.

5. It was also used by Amy Winehouse for what would become her last ever recording, which was a duet with Tony Bennett

Other

1. We have over 700 working microphones in our collection at Abbey Road Studios, dating back to the 1930s.

2. Up until the mid 1980’s Abbey Road still had White Coats (Engineers) and Brown coats (Porters).

3. Abbey Road Studios and the famous zebra crossing are both Grade II listed.

4. The Steinway Upright Piano

  • Has been in use at Abbey Road for more than 60 years.
  • It was used on many Beatles recordings, but is known as the ‘Lady Madonna’ piano following its use on the Beatles single recording of the same name, which reached No.1 in the charts in 1968.
  • It went on to feature prominently on “Penny Lane” and “With a Little Help From my Friends” and many others.
  • Russ Conway used this piano on all of his 20 singles and 6 albums between 1957 and 1962.
  • During the 60’s and early 70’s another pianist, Mrs Mills, who was signed to the Parlophone label recorded in studios 2 and 3 using this piano. Her first single ‘Mrs Mills Medley’ entered the charts in the top 20.

 

5. The Challen Piano

  • This piano was built in the 1930’s and has been used constantly in the studios.
  • With its distinctive “tack” sound, it was another favourite of the The Beatles who used it extensively on “Magical Mystery Tour” and “The White Album” and it is still used on pop and rock sessions today.
  • It was the keyboard instrument used on the Olivia Newton John hit ‘Banks of the Ohio’ recorded by Peter Vince at Abbey Road in 1971