The 19th Century town house at 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, was purchased by EMI in 1929 with a view to transforming it into the world’s first custom-built recording studios.
British classical music composer Sir Edward Elgar, opened the studios in a ceremony on 12 November 1931. Elgar can be seen in a film of the event, conducting the all-male orchestra in his “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1”.
In 1932, 16 year-old child prodigy Yehudi Menuhin was invited by Elgar to record his own Violin Concerto, thus beginning Menuhin’s lifelong association with Abbey Road.
Other regular visitors to Abbey Road at that time were Al Bowlly, Ray Noble, Joe Loss, Flanagan and Allen Fats Waller and Fred Astaire.
AFTER THE WAR
During WWII Abbey Road remained open. It was used for propaganda recordings and BBC broadcasts. Glenn Miller, recorded a number of titles with Dinah Shore in Studio One on 16 September 1944, the last recordings he made. Famous Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli made most of his recordings there.
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” 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 20 August was the last day all four members were together in a recording studio. It was released on 26 September and sold more than 10m copies.
THE LAST 40 YEARS
Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds, Kiki Dee, XTC, Mike Oldfield, Jeff Beck, Tom Robinson and Kirsty MacColl are among the major artists who recorded there.
In 1996, Abbey Road Interactive was developed by EMI Music and Apple Computer and a unit for making CDs combining music, video, graphics, animation, text and speech opened.
In 2007 a Channel 4 TV series “Live
from Abbey Road” aired in more than 120 countries.