The area around Abbey Road Studios in St. John’s Wood, London, attracts tourists from around the world. They disrupt traffic by walking the zebra crossing that we see on the cover the Beatles album. They sign the fence in front of the studio. They linger in the gift shop next door. The only thing they can’t do is go inside because the facility is a working studio.
From August 8 to 18, Abbey Road is opening its doors to offer tours through the facility. The occasion? The 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ walk across the street for the photograph that appears on the cover of Abbey Road.
I’ve been fortunate enough to pull some strings (twice!) to be shown around Abbey Road. Those visits can only be described as musical mystical tours. To be in Studio 2, home of all the Beatles recordings as well as albums by Pink Floyd, Oasis and countless others, should be on every fan’s bucket list.
There’s gear everywhere. On one trip, a beat-up piano was pushed against the wall of Studio 2. “What’s that?” I asked. My tour guide replied “Oh, that’s one of the pianos they used for the last chord on ‘A Day in the Life.’ The others are around here somewhere.”
A series of microphones were set up in the set of the studio. “We’re getting ready to record a classical quintet. See that old RCA mic? That was one of John Lennon’s favourites. His DNA is all over it.”
The tours will also take groups through Studio 1, a massive gymnasium-sized facility of holding a 65-piece orchestra. It was here that the scores for movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter were recorded. Then there’s studio Studio 3, the smallest of the bunch; Pink Floyd did a lot of work in there.
If you can all swing it, I highly recommended buying tickets NOW. It really is worth it.