Call it an aura, call it a presence, call it collective hysteria, regardless of however you decide to classify it, there is no denying the impact of Abbey Road Studios. It is, without argument, the most famous recording studio in the world for a reason. “Number 2 studio has been called the Sistine Chapel of recording and I can’t argue,” remarks renowned British engineer Ken Scott. “Every time I’m there I’ll stand at the top of the stairs, looking down at where so many great performances have been captured so perfectly, and the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I have heard the same kind of story from so many people that I know there is something very special and undeniable about that space.”
In the 80-plus years since its founding, the building has resided comfortably in an otherwise quiet suburb of London. Artists, engineers, producers, even owners have come and gone, but the legacy remains. The studio has been visited by groups as diverse as Pink Floyd, the Alan Parsons Project, the Hollies, and Kanye West and by composers such as John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, but the name will forever be tied to its lengthy collaboration the Beatles.
Abbey Road wasn’t always the studio that helped the Beatles break; in fact, it wasn’t even always called “Abbey Road.” Founded in 1931 by the Gramophone Company (who would merge to with EMI that very year), Abbey Road Studios was originally EMI Studios, a home for the audio conglomerate that not only recorded and published music but also manufactured electronics. From its introductory recording of the London Symphony Orchestra onward, the early years of the studio mostly saw it recording classical music. At that point it was far from a historic landmark, it was more of a complex, a service center. “I can’t really say that EMI Studios had a reputation outside of the business at that time. Hardly anyone really knew what a recording studio was,” Scott says of the studio’s early years. To make matters worse, the early history of the studio is mostly lost. The engineers weren’t interested in recording their accounts of the studio. All that has survived are the recordings themselves and a few stories lucky enough to be remembered and passed down to newer generations. When asked if he recalls any stories from the Studios’ early days, Scott hazily offers one:
The one [story] that has stayed in my mind, unfortunately not very well, was about doing some recordings in a far off land with indigenous musicians playing their local style of music. This was in the days of going direct to disk, and the speed of the turntable was controlled by a weight falling at a constant speed. Unfortunately the engineers doing the recordings really had no idea how long any given piece of music was so they had to keep their fingers crossed that the musicians would finish before the weight reached the ground.
Its not much, but it foreshadows the experimental spirit the studio would later be known to foster.
Full story Via noisey.vice.com