Abbey Road Studios

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Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road Studios are the recording studios of the British record company EMI named after the street of the same name in the London borough of Westminster , which have become world-famous thanks to the Beatles .


Entrance to the EMI studios
The zebra crossing in front of Abbey Road Studios, made famous by the cover of the Beatles album Abbey Road
EMI Recording Studios, 1969

At 3 Abbey Road , St. John's Wood ( City of Westminster ), London NW8 9AY , a residential building built in 1830 in the Georgian style was initially hidden away by The Gramophone Company Ltd. on December 3, 1929 . purchased for £ 16,500  and converted into a recording studio. The renovation costs were £ 100,000, a multiple of the purchase price.

At the time of its opening on November 12, 1931, Gramophone had already merged with the Columbia Graphophone Company to form EMI. Sir Edward Elgar immortalized the opening by performing with the London Symphony Orchestra by recording The Land of Hope and Glory . That was the first sound recording from the new studios. From then on, all EMI classical symphonic works were created here in the studios. This was followed by Falstaff (Symphonic Study in C minor, Opus 68), also recorded on November 12, 1931 and February 4, 1932 in Studio 1. Elgar used Studio 1 in the future for classical recordings, including the violin concerto in B minor (Opus 61) with the then 16-year-old Yehudi Menuhin , which was recorded here on July 14th and 15th, 1932. Menuhin recorded almost 250 works here and is one of the studios' most intensive users.

Important producers

Producer George Martin joined EMI in October 1950 and was appointed head of the subsidiary Parlophone Records in 1955 . Parlophone was actually a classic label, but under Martin it developed into a jazz and comedy label. Martin's first independent production was with Humphrey Lytteltons jazz band, which recorded the title Trouble in Mind / Panama Rag (Parlophone # R3346) on October 25, 1950 . This was followed by Get Out of Here And Go On Home on November 22, 1950 , and on January 24, 1951, Trog's Blues and Wolverine Blues were recorded. La Muse Legere / Barwick Green (# R3418) was created for Sidney Torch & Orchestra in August 1951 . With Freddie Randall, John Dankworth , Joe Daniels and Jack Parnell, productions for other jazz bands followed. Then in 1951 Martin produced classical recordings for the London Baroque Ensemble (conductor: Karl Haas) with Mozart compositions, released on an LP in October 1952. This followed in August 1952 for Eve Boswell Sugar Bush / I'm Yours (# R3561), then the satire plate Phoney Folk Lore / Mock Mozart by Peter Ustinov , emerged in December 1952. the same month, the single was I Went to Your Wedding / I Will Never Change by a certain Dick James published. James would later become one of Britain's most influential and successful music publishers and entrepreneurs when he published the Beatles and discovered Elton John . Pickin 'A Chicken by Eve Boswell was created in October 1955 and was the first pop hit from the studios, with a position ninth in the British charts, produced by George Martin. It was followed by Johnny Dankworth with his orchestra, which brought Experiments With Mice (recorded on May 10, 1956) to number seven in the charts in June 1956 . Lytteltons Saturday Jump , on the other hand, was created on December 9, 1958, but his only hit parade listing Bad Penny Blues was produced in April 1956 in the IBC studios of Denis Preston . George Martin's first hit was You're Driving Me Crazy , released on May 30, 1961 by the Temperance Seven in vaudeville style, which was met with great skepticism at EMI.

George Martin became famous as the producer of the Beatles and other pop bands , who received a record deal in their wake, such as Gerry & The Pacemakers , Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas , Fourmost or the pop singer Cilla Black . In 1963 alone, his productions, which advanced to first place, stayed there for a total of 37 weeks. To date, Martin is registered as a producer for 4836 titles.

Other producers also ensured success in the studios. Norrie Paramor , employed by sister label Columbia , was particularly responsible for the careers of Cliff Richard and the Shadows . The first hit of the recording studios was created under his leadership on July 29, 1953 with the trumpeter Eddie Calvert , who helped O my papa to number one. On July 24, 1958, Move it / Schoolboy Crush and a second place in the British charts were the first rock 'n' roll success from Abbey Road Studios. Not least because of the assembly line work with Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Norrie Paramor is responsible for 771 productions.

In 1957, Norman Newell came to the studios as a producer, who also worked for the sister label Columbia Records and there in particular produced the pop pianist Russ Conway . But John Barry , later the famous composer of most of the James Bond title music, was also produced by Newell with his band John Barry Seven. Newell was also responsible for the singers Shirley Bassey and Alma Cogan . Bassey came to Columbia in 1960, where Newell produced the top hit Climb Ev'ry Mountain with her on June 21, 1961 . On January 21, 1964, the million seller A World Without Love was created for the pop duo Peter & Gordon . Newell has produced a total of 845 titles for EMI in the studios.

However, the artists weren't fixated on any particular producer. George Martin remembered that Shirley Bassey , who was actually regularly produced by Norman Newell, came to Martin's office in the summer of 1964 to arrange a recording date with him. Bassey, who had few top hits, believed it would be a big hit if only it was supervised by the studios' most successful producer. On August 20, 1964, Goldfinger created the theme tune for the James Bond film of the same name (co-composed by John Barry ), which was her most successful hit in the USA with an eighth place, while it only came up to place 21 in the home country. Subsequently, the song developed into a million seller, especially in the USA .

Abbey Road on TV

The most spectacular recording session was the recording of the Beatles' record of the program Our World , which was broadcast live on television worldwide via satellite, on June 25, 1967. At least 200 million viewers were able to watch the Beatles live while they were recording their next single, All You Need Is Love . The BBC did not broadcast the first recording of the recording - as is often assumed - but it was already take 58. In addition to the Beatles, Studio 1 included the 13 formally dressed members of the orchestra and, in particular, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards ( Rolling Stones ) , Keith Moon ( The Who ), Eric Clapton ( Cream ), Graham Nash ( The Hollies ) and Marianne Faithfull , who were allowed to sing along and clap their hands. The spontaneous fade-out , the so-called “ coda ”, with short bars from Johann Sebastian Bach's eighth two-part invention, the Marseillaise , Greensleeves , In the Mood , Yesterday and She Loves You ended the British contribution to Our World . The final mix took place on June 26, 1967, the single was released on July 7, 1967. The album, released by the Beatles on September 26, 1969, was named after the now world-famous studios and shows the four on the cover as they do Cross the zebra crossing in front of the studios.

Important recordings

On September 16, 1944, Glenn Miller and Dinah Shore made his last six recordings here, intended for propaganda purposes, before he probably crashed in an airplane on the flight to Paris over the English Channel in December 1944 .

The first hit parade from the Abbey Road studios was the Cowpuncher's Cantata by Max Bygraves, which advanced to eleventh place when it entered the first British charts in November 1952. Alma Cogan recorded 19 hit singles here, including number one Dreamboat (May 1955). Helen Shapiro had eleven hit singles leveled here, including the hit Walking Back To Happiness , which was recorded on July 28, 1961 . In the beat band era, the big hits of the Seekers and Hollies were created here . Pink Floyd not only recorded their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn with producer Norman Smith between February and July 1967 here, but also almost all subsequent albums. These included The Dark Side of the Moon (March 1973) and Wish You Were Here (September 1975). Duran Duran recorded Notorious (November 1986) as well as Oasis the LP Be Here Now (October 1996) or Dig Out Your Soul (October 2008).

In 1972 Ornette Coleman's album Skies of America was recorded there with the London Symphony Orchestra . Since 1981 Studio 1 has also been used as a recording studio for orchestral film scores. The first film that got its background music here was Raiders of the Lost Ark with the music of John Williams , which was released on June 12, 1981 in the USA . The music for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and the soundtracks for the Harry Potter films were also recorded here.

Phil Ramone produced the jazz classic Body and Soul for Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett on March 23, 2011 at Abbey Road Studios, the last studio recording by Amy Winehouse before her death on July 23, 2011. The single was released on September 14, 2011 released.

Recording technology

As is common in recording studios, the studio technology followed the latest technical advances. The first four-track stereo tape machine ( Telefunken ) was purchased in 1959, which was intended for classic recordings. But Norrie Paramor also included Cliff Richard and the Shadows early in their careers. In 1962, Swiss Studer C37 two-track tape machines were used for the first time . The first recordings were made on May 10, 1962 of Cliff Richard 's Bachelor Boy title . When EMI's pop groups also registered a need from 1964 onwards, eight Studer J37 four-track tape machines were purchased in June 1964, which remained in operation until the end of 1968. The Beatles were still recorded with two- track technique until the recording of I Want to Hold Your Hand , only with this on October 17, 1963 four-track technique was used. The REDD mixer was developed by the sound engineer Peter K. Burkowitz. The four-track technique allowed the producers to put the basic rhythm of a band on two tracks, which sometimes required many takes. The best take was then used for overdubbing . The other two tracks were reserved for vocals and sound. The legendary concept album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band of the Beatles was recorded by connecting two four-track devices (Studer J37) in the record time of 129 days between November 1966 and April 1967.

It was the Beatles with their producer George Martin who revolutionized the usual recording techniques used worldwide. Sound effects such as backward recordings with flanging , phasing , sound collages or controlled feedback had not yet been used in pop music with this intensity, apart from Joe Meek's first attempts . The Abbey Road studios thus became a trendsetter in a new type of sound technology that was adapted worldwide. The automatic or artificial double-tracking (ADT) was developed in the studios of Beatles recordings from April 7, 1966 by sound engineer Ken Townsend while recording the album Revolver . Here, a sound signal is taken from a sound track and transferred to another tape with a variable oscillator . The soundtrack changed in this way is transferred back to the original soundtrack. The Beatles later used this technique extensively. In particular, John Lennon did not like his voice particularly like to hear, wishing an intense double-tracking. The first Beatles hit with ADT was Paperback Writer, recorded on April 14, 1966 . In 1968 EMI developed an eight-track device with 24 inputs, which was used, for example, for the album The Beatles . In 1974, two 24-track tape machines were combined to form 48-track technology.


The entire building complex, which has been structurally adapted for the purposes of recording studios, consists of three large recording studios each with control rooms, whereby Studio 1 is the world's largest recording studio and can accommodate a symphony orchestra (110 people and a 100-person choir). An AMS NEVE 88RS console with 72 inputs is located in the control room. Studio 2 has a capacity of 55 people. The console of the same type has 60 inputs. In the penthouse there is another control room for digital mixing and an isolation room for recording individual instruments. The largest console of the three studios with 96 channels is located here. The Beatles came here for the first audition on June 6, 1962, their first official recording session for Love Me Do in Studio 2 on September 11, 1962, and the last recording session for I Me Mine on January 3, 1970.


Between the first year of a hit parade in Great Britain in 1952 and 1982, Abbey Road studios recorded a total of 74 number one hits , including 15 by the Beatles. Almost all of the Beatles' albums and singles were recorded here, with George Martin as producer, Norman Smith as engineer and Chris Neal as assistant engineer. The three most important producers George Martin, Norman Newell and Norrie Paramor alone accounted for 6452 music tracks produced. Other famous sound engineers include Alan Parsons , Geoff Emerick , John Smith and Glyn Johns . The Abbey Road studios were and are heavily used, so public traffic is not planned. Interested parties can only view the studios from the outside.

Sales plans

When the EMI Group acquired Virgin Records in 1992 , the purchase not only included the record label , but also the renowned Olympic Sound recording studios. EMI was the owner of two recording studios. In February 2010, EMI initially decided to sell the loss-making Olympic Sound Studios with its eleven employees to a businessman. In view of the enormous public protests with regard to the intention to sell the loss-making Abbey Road Studios, EMI only planned to give up a minority stake in order to enable modernization. The record company turned down a purchase offer of £ 30 million in 2009. In February 2010, the recording studios were declared a historic building and placed under monument protection.


Since 2010, the Abbey Road Institute has offered a training program developed by Abbey Road Studios audio engineers and education professionals. The curriculum comprises the three main areas of  Music Theory and Production , Sound Engineering and Acoustics, and Management and Business .

Work is carried out according to the principle of Progressive Continuous Learning (PCL), in which modules are divided into smaller subject areas and these are conveyed gradually and in a logical order in theory and practice. Classes are given by teachers and experts in the music industry. In the institute's recording studios, participants learn both on modern and vintage equipment.

Web links

Commons : Abbey Road  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Peter Martland: Since Records Began - EMI: The First 100 Years. 1997, p. 248 f.
  2. ^ Peter Martland: Since Records Began - EMI: The First 100 Years. 1997, p. 81 ff.
  3. ^ Alan Southall / Peter Vince / Alan Rouse, Abbey Road: The Story of the World's Most Famous Recording Studios , 1997, p. 23
  4. ^ Peter Martland: Since Records Began - EMI: The First 100 Years. 1997, p. 316.
  5. George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: All You Need Is Ears. 1979, p. 100.
  6. ^ Popmusic info on George Martin
  7. Pop music info on Norrie Paramor
  8. George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: All You Need Is Ears. 1979, p. 169.
  9. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records. 1985, p. 187.
  10. George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: All You Need Is Ears. 1979, p. 192 ff .; the audience figures vary between 200 and 400 million
  11. ^ Mark Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions , 1998, pp. 120 ff.
  12. Developed by Telefunken in Germany in 1957.
  13. Atlantic Records had been using eight-track technology for pop music since 1958.
  14. STUDER C37. In: STUDER and ReVox Infoportal. March 3, 2016, accessed on July 17, 2019 (German).
  15. Peter Karl Burkowitz 1920–2012 Obituary by the AES
  16. Two identical audio signals are copied one on top of the other with a short delay of around 20 milliseconds
  17. ↑ The same score is played by two instruments and copied over each other
  18. SoundonSound from April 2009, Double-tracking Vocals
  19. This oscillator allows the tape speed to be changed.
  20. ^ Mark Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions , 1988, p. 70.
  21. ^ Bill Harry, The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia , 1993, p. 4
  22. a b EMI Sells 'Home of the Stones'. In: The Daily Telegraph , February 27, 2010.
  23. The Beatles' Abbey Road Studios declared a historic building . In: The Examiner , February 23, 2010

Coordinates: 51 ° 31 '54 "  N , 0 ° 10' 39"  W.