Abbey Road Studios
87 Years of Music Innovation
Abbey Road Studios is known as the most famous recording studio in the world and a global music icon (an English Heritage Grade II-listed site, also). The studio has a number of state-of-the-art mastering suites, with engineering expertise spanning direct-to-vinyl and half-speed mastering. Abbey Road’s award-winning engineers have mastered or re-mastered music from the Beatles, Sam Smith, Sade, ABBA, Krept & Konan, Graham Coxon, Novelist, Johnny Marr, Roxy Music, and the Rolling Stones. Diverse musicians – such as Kate Bush, Radiohead, Oasis, Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Kylie Minogue, Muse, Sam Smith, Florence + The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Frank Ocean, Lady Gaga, and Adele – have made Abbey Road their creative home, producing countless landmark recordings, too.
Originally a nine-bedroom house built in 1829, it was purchased by the Gramophone Company in 1928 that went on to build the world’s first purpose-built recording studio. The St John’s Wood address was chosen for its large garden and ideal location – close enough to the performance spaces of the time, but away from the noise and vibrations of the traffic and trains.
The grand opening ceremony on November 12th, 1931 included a performance of “Land of Hope and Glory” in Studio One conducted by Sir Edward Elgar. The Gramophone Company eventually merged with Columbia Graphophone Company to form Electric and Musical Industries (EMI) in 1931, and the studios later became known as EMI Recording Studios. Since EMI engineer Alan Blumlein patented stereo at Abbey Road in 1931, the studio has been famed for innovation in recording technology, largely developed by the Record Engineering Development Department (REDD) that was meeting the needs of the artists and producers using the rooms. Their innovations include the REDD and TG desks, as well as studio techniques such as artificial double-tracking (ADT), created by studio technician Ken Townsend.
While initially a venue for classical recordings, the studio’s repertoire soon embraced jazz and big bands as well as the first British rock records of the 1950s, including Sir Cliff Richard’s first single “Move It.” Abbey Road is, of course, synonymous with the legendary work of the Beatles, who worked with EMI producer Sir George Martin and recorded 190 of their 210 songs at the studio. But Abbey Road’s unparalleled history has also seen the wild experiments of Pink Floyd and iconic recordings from Shirley Bassey, Aretha Franklin, and The Hollies.
As the demand for classical recording spaces declined, Townsend found a new role for the big rooms – movie scores, with the first major film score being Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1980. Since then, Abbey Road has developed into one of the world’s premier destinations for movie scoring. Blockbuster films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Skyfall, the Harry Potter series, and the Oscar-winning Gravity feature scores recorded here, while recent projects include Black Panther, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Shape of Water. The Mix Stage – a Dolby Atmos Premier-accredited and IMAX audio-compatible studio – also opened in 2017, making Abbey Road the only facility in the U.K. to offer both scoring and film sound post-production.
Two new contemporary studios were launched in the spring of 2017, as well – the Gatehouse and the Front Room – making the Abbey Road magic accessible to a whole new generation of music creatives. They have already hosted artists like James Bay, Jess Glynne, George Ezra, Skrillex, Novelist, and Jammer.
Moreover, in March 2018, Abbey Road appointed Grammy-winning producer, guitarist, arranger and composer Nile Rodgers to the newly created position of chief creative advisor, responsible for nurturing new talent, as well as acting as the studio’s global ambassador and assisting with its ongoing developments in audio and recording technology.
The pioneering spirit of the REDD department’s innovations from the 1950s to 1970s continues with Abbey Road Red – Europe’s first music-focused technology incubator, which supports the endeavors of entrepreneurs, researchers and developers, and is now expanding with in-house R&D activities within the music-creation space.
For more details, visit: @abbeyroadstudios – www.abbeyroad.com