Music History

Sad photos from George Martin’s once state-of-the-art Caribbean recording studio

When money flowed like water in the music industry, album recording budgets were as big as they needed to be. To soak up that money, expensive state-of-the-art recording studios were built all over the world.

In 1979, Beatles’ producer George Martin decided to expand his Associated Independent Recording Studios–henceforth AIR Studios–to the island of Monserrat in the northeast Caribbean.

It was an astounding facility. Everyone from The Rolling Stones and Elton John to Black Sabbath and Lou Reed hired the live-work studio. Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms, one of the best-sounding CDs of all time, was made there.

Then, in 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit the island. About 90% of all the structures on Monserrat were destroyed. Among those was AIR Studios. It was never rebuilt.

Reader Chris Macknie tromped through the vegetation to take pictures of what was once a magnificent temple to making music. He writes:

The ruins of the studio are not officially open to the public and are kind of off limits, but I found a local guy who knew where they were and took me to them. I had a quick look around and took a few photos.
Also on Montserrat is Olveston House, the former residence of Beatles producer George Martin. It’s now a guest house and restaurant, and I had a really nice meal there. Some of Martin’s gold records still grace the walls of the house. There are not many street signs on Montserrat, but Olveston House is located on a road with a street sign: Penny Lane.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 37907 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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