A Visit to Abbey Road in Pictures

Abbey Road - Front door

On Friday morning, I had the privilege of wandering through Abbey Road Studios in London on a tour led by a wonderful woman named Colette. The best part of the tour was standing in the middle of Studio 2, the place where the Beatles created all that great music five decades ago.

Abbey Road - Studio 2

 

“See that mic over there?” said Colette, “That’s one of the more than 800 mics in Abbey Road’s collection. We have producers and engineers who know our collection so well that they not only ask to use a specific model of microphone. They know the serial numbers of the exact mics they want.

“That Neumann U-47–which meant it was made in East Germany in 1947–has been here forever. I guarantee you that Paul McCartney or John Lennon used that Neumann when the Beatles worked here.”

Abbey Road U47

This is hallowed ground. The space and environment where the Beatles (and Pink Floyd and Oasis and so many others) created timeless classics was no longer just a concept. I was there. In that room. On that floor. Surrounded by those walls. This is where it happened.

“What’s this piano?” I asked.

“That old thing? It’s one of the pianos used on February 22, 1967, to create the final chord for ‘A Day in the Life.’ The others are around here somewhere. We never throw anything out.”

Abbey Road - A Day in the Life piano

No kidding. The hallways are lined with vintage gear that date back to at least the 1950s. This mixing desk is still available for use in Studio 3.

Abbey Road - Old Studio 3 desk

 

“And then there’s that piano over there.” Colette pointed to another beat-up upright. “That’s what Paul used to play ‘Lady Madonna’ on February 13, 1968. But they didn’t record that song here in Studio 2. That was a Studio 1 recording.”

Abbey Road - Lady Madonna piano

Here’s a shot of Studio 1 from a staircase. The place is the size of a basketball court with a forty-foot ceiling, which result in a natural decay of exactly 2.6 seconds. No wonder it’s sought after for for classical recordings. John Williams recorded much of the Star Wars scores in this room which can accommodate an orchestra of up to about 100 pieces.

Abbey Road - Studio 1

We eventually made it into Studio 3. Pink Floyd did most of Wish You Were Here in this studio.

Abbey Road - Studio 3

Check out this ancient RCA ribbon mic that dates from the middle 30. Imagine if you could analyze the DNA left by all the performers that have used it.

Abbey Raod - RCA mic

Then there’s this old Hammond organ. How many hundreds of recordings feature it?

Abbey Road Hammond

We’re still listening to music that was created in these rooms 50 years ago. Which of today’s pop music will we be listening to in 5o years? Think about it.

Thanks to Colette and the staff of Abbey Road for the tour. I’m never going to listen to a Beatles or Pink Floyd record the same way ever again.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “A Visit to Abbey Road in Pictures

  • June 22, 2015 at 1:08 am
    Permalink

    This is what I love to see on the internet. Brings new meaning to the words: “if these walls could talk”

    Reply

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