From Elgar to The Beatles: Iconic Abbey Road Studios celebrates 80 years

PUBLISHED: 16:45 03 November 2011

The Beatles recorded almost all of their albums at the famous studios in Abbey Road.

The Beatles recorded almost all of their albums at the famous studios in Abbey Road.


It is impossible to go past Abbey Road without seeing a gaggle of tourists holding up traffic while they take pictures of each other on the famous zebra crossing that appeared on the Beatles album named after the studio.

TIMELINE: Abbey Road Studios

* The first official recording at the studio was Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, Land of Hope and Glory, which was conducted by Sir Edward Elgar and played by the London Symphony Orchestra on November 12, 1931.

* Stereo recording was patented at Abbey Road Studios by EMI engineer Alan Blumlein.

* The film score to The King’s Speech was recorded at Abbey Road Studios using the original royal microphones used by King George VI.

* The studio has over 700 working microphones in its collection, dating back to the 1930s.

* More than 250,000 people come to Abbey Road to walk over the zebra crossing and sign the wall annually.

Such is the iconic status of the studio in St John’s Wood that it is now world famous, playing host to some of the biggest musical acts of every generation.

And on Saturday, November 12, it celebrates its 80th anniversary.

Since 1931 when English composer Sir Edward Elgar made the first recording there, the award winning studio has seen Glenn Miller, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Blur, Elbow, Sting, Lady Gaga and countless other big names in the music world visit to record, mix, master or perform their music.

Glenn Miller recorded his final works there and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, an album that stayed in the Billboard chart for 741 consecutive weeks, also began there.

Unlike most other recording studios, which are unknown to the masses, the Grade II listed building - the famous zebra crossing is also listed - is a household name.

The studios have not only helped to produce some of the biggest albums in musical history, but have been the subject of two TV series.

Because of the large capacity of Studio One, the studios are also a top spot for orchestral soundtrack recording for major Hollywood pictures like Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord of The Rings.

Proof of how precious the venue is to the nation and the world came last year when the then owners of the studio, EMI, put the iconic building where the Beatles recorded almost all of their albums up for sale.

Abbey Radio Studios: What they say

* Musician Sir Paul McCartney: “I have so many special memories from there and it’s still such a great studio today. I wish Abbey Road all the best for another 80 rocking years.”

* Record producer Sir George Martin: “If you believe, as I do, that a house has atmosphere, and is capable of absorbing the personalities and emotions of its inhabitants, you will have no difficulty in appreciating the unique quality of Abbey Road.”

* Pink Floyd singer and guitarist Dave Gilmour: “It’s a great place, it has great vibes.”

A ‘Save Abbey Road Studios’ campaign was set up by workers at the studio and fans to keep Abbey Road as a working studio, and the petition received 2,865 signatures and had 20,000 followers on Facebook.

The campaign was supported by many famous names, including DJ Chris Evans, and Andrew Lloyd Webber promised to pay any amount to save the studios from developers.

In the end Abbey Road was saved by the National Trust, who received support pledges to buy the property from as far away as Japan.

They awarded it Grade II status, meaning it will be forever preserved as an inspirational place for musicians and a perfect picture spot for their happy snapping fans.

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