Inside Abbey Road Studios and tickling the ivories of John Lennon’s piano

I’ve been going to the world famous Abbey Road Studios since 2013 as part of my Music of London Rock and Pop Tour and more recently also as the starting point on my Beatles Tour of London with my tour company Ye Olde England Tours.

If I had a penny for every one of these I had taken!!

I’ve given more than a few tours to not just famous musicians but also the odd global mega-star and yet I’ve never gone past the sometimes open front gates of Abbey Road. A few days ago however at short notice I was invited to give a short tour for some VIPs who were going to be working in the studios for the rest of the day. So I dropped a very friendly hint and the day before the tour got sent an entry pass!

Abbey Road itself takes its name from the old Abbey Lane that ran a mile or so up to the one-time Kilburn Priory which vanished long ago. The studios building was built in 1829 so is not quite as old as my house but with nine bedrooms, many times larger which is no doubt why the esteemed classical composer Edward Elgar made it is home. His music of course is often highlighted around Armistice Day – Remembrance Sunday.

In 1929, the Gramophone Company converted the building into studios and due to the original large back garden of the house, the building could keep its beautiful frontage but be added to considerably out of sight from the street.

There are numerous studios within Abbey Road Studios with some smaller ones for startup bands and advertising recordings whilst others allow for large orchestral recordings with the studios having recently seen James Bond, the Star Wars films and further back Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones amongst many others.

The most famous studio is Studio 2 which is the home to all things The Beatles following Cliff Richard recording Move It in 1958. Out of the 120 or so hit tunes of The Beatles, 90 were recorded in Studio 2 with others recorded upstairs in Studio 3. Ever since then, it has been home to some of the biggest bands and performers in the world. Pretty much everyone who is anyone has recorded here including my 90’s successor groups to The Beatles, Oasis and Blur whilst just a few weeks or months ago superstars such as Ed Sheeran and Adele have recorded in this very room.

Security is tight in Abbey Road Studios understandably given the big names all around, the possibility of industrial subterfuge with people obtaining sound recordings and just the hundreds and hundreds of copyright and one-off signed photos and album covers that line the walls of the corridors. So in many places photos were clearly not allowed but after asking very very nicely once or twice the odd photo was permitted.

Abbey Road Studios has been instrumental to countless technological improvements, many of which instigated by The Beatles themselves. One of the most famous that we are all used to is the creation of Stereo sound. Apparently now 96-channel sound recording is possible and it is causing debates within the industry over whether a simpler approach might actually sound better rather than a more complicated one just because it is now possible.

I actually went in Abbey Road Studios twice in a day so thought I record this for posterity. The assorted people outside the gates obviously wondered what was going on when I walked in and out.

At the front door of Abbey Road Studios

I was lucky to be not just allowed in but be given a special tour by one of the hospitality people who work inside, it was incredibly interesting and in a way inspiring.

In the production booth for Studio 2

I was also given an Abbey Road Studios mug which currently has a cup of tea in it but amongst all the incredible moments of this special day was the chance to sit at the very piano that John Lennon played all those years ago and where Sir Paul McCartney who lives (my tour also goes to his house) just 5 minutes walk away still comes to this very day.

Me and John Lennon’s piano

I took plenty of other photos but it’s probably best not to put them all up but I thought some people might enjoy this little poke around the most famous musical studios in the world.

I loved my little tour just as my VIPs enjoyed the one that I gave them. At a time when my government has gone 21 months leaving me Excluded without helping me at all and telling people like myself we are not viable or for artists to train and get ‘proper jobs’ it’s nice to my talents are still appreciated by some of the most high-flying people in the world. It also shows just what an important part music, history, culture and travel play, especially in the U.K. which is probably uniquely strong in these areas.

What would have happened if in the 1960’s The Fab Four had been made by the government to not do what they wanted and what they were good at? Imagine!

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in Cool Britannia, Heritage, history, Life, London, Popular Culture, Ye Olde England Tours and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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