So hands up who’s a Beatles fan?
I’ve had a big association with the Beatles throughout my life as indeed I’m sure many of you have. I grew up in Southport just 20 minutes down the road from Liverpool, I’ve been to the Cavern and infamous Matthew Street Festival many times and I’m even a former employee of the Liverpool Marriott South Hotel (now a Crowne Plaza) and former Liverpool Airport. Anyone who’s seen the old images of John, Paul, George and Ringo arriving back from tour to crowds of screaming fans on the balcony of the airport, well the old apron of the airport (now hotel) is listed for that very reason, well that and the fact it was kissed by Pope John Paul II in the early 80s!
More importantly I grew up listening and also watching the Beatles, my dad was a huge fan and had their entire album collection, we watched most of their films, I can’t tell you how many times my siblings and I watched Yellow Submarine as kids, it was and probably still is one of my all time favourites.
So where am I leading with all of this? Well for all the reasons above my visit to Abbey Road Studios last week was particularly special and nostalgic not just as a Beatles fan but a lover of all music. I got goose bumps walking up the stairs and you do get a funny feeling when you arrive, even more so because of the fans and tourists taking photos of the building and the famous pedestrian crossing outside.
What’s important to mention is Abbey Road Studios are not open to the public, they’re still working studios so they only open their doors to artists and a limited number of events per year so being a member of the privileged events glitterati made it even more special.
The studios look small from the outside but once inside it’s like a tardis, the corridors go on for ever and it wasn’t what I expected at all. An old private residence in an exclusive area of London the studios themselves are actually built within what would have been the gardens so are a lot bigger than you would think from the front of the building.
I was met by Christie from Perception Sales and Marketing and Jeremy Huffelmann, Head of Events for Abbey Road. We started our tour in Studio One, the largest recording studio in the world and of the three available. Opened in 1931, so over 80 years old and still the same as it was back in the day. Reason being they’re unable to change the flooring or the walls so as not to affect the acoustics and that unique sound of an Abbey Road recording.
One thing to note at this stage is how completely awestruck I was, speechless, the feeling you get when you stand in the space is indescribable. The chairs and equipment dates back to the 50/60s, there are ‘Beatle Mics’ everywhere, some of the equipment you’ll find is quite literally priceless as it’s irreplaceable, it’s like walking back in time into a space that some pretty amazing artists as well as a few legends have performed and still do now.
Talking of old equipment, this picture is of the original 4 channel sound desk used by the Beatles to make their recordings. To put that into perspective you will now find a 72 channel sound desk in Studio One and a 96 channel in Studio Three, it’s amazing what those four guys from Liverpool achieved back in the day and goes to show what a little bit of creativity will do.
Studio One is an impressive orchestral space and many film scores have been recorded there including Raiders, Star Wars and more recently Skyfall. It’s an amazing space that’s completely geared for an event with a live performer and combined with Studio Two it has a capacity of 355 standing, on it’s own a dinner for 225.
One thing Abbey Road do offer as a completely unique experience for an event is their ‘Record a Song’ package. Whatever your singing ability you and your guests could walk in the footsteps of legends and work with a team of highly experienced musical directors, professional musicians, vocal coaches and sound engineers to produce your very own recording. Not an experience your guests are going to forget in a hurry as how many people even professional artists can say they’ve recorded a song at Abbey Road?
Next on the tour was Studio Three. I also grew up listening to Pink Floyd but it was in my late teens that I became a fan when I was discovered Dark Side of the Moon at college (like many do). Dark Side of the Moon was actually recorded in Studio Two however the majority of Pink Floyd’s recordings were made in Studio Three. Reason being the Beatles were always in Studio Two and it was only after they split that Pink Floyd were able to get in there to record their infamous album.
Studio Three has seen the likes of Florence and the Machine, Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons and also the last ever recording by Amy Winehouse with Tony Bennett. It’s a more intimate and contemporary space than the other two studios, more 70/80s than 50/60s and perfect for smaller meetings, launches and press conferences. As an event space it can accommodate 50 standing and 25 for a dinner. Can you imagine holding a corporate meeting in the same space as Sid Barrett in one of his psychedelia moments?
Finally and the icing on the cake – Studio Two! Arguably the most famous recording studio in the world and witness to some of the most memorable recordings ever made including of course Sergeant Pepper. You can smell the history when you walk in, the same as in Studio One everything is exactly the same as when the Beatles recorded in here, the floor, ceiling and walls have not been touched so as not to alter the acoustics, the ‘Lady Madonna’ piano, an old Steinberg of course, is still in it’s original place and you can hear the song playing in your head as you tap the keys. There’s more ‘Beatle Mics’, equipment and instruments dotted around. I genuinely feel me being there is a once in a lifetime experience, there’s a lump in my throat as I look around, and put quite simply if I could have spoken and had a conversation with any walls, it would’ve been the walls of this studio!
As event spaces go Studio Two is a definite wow, being there had a massive impact on me so imagine that for your guests. For receptions they can accommodate up to 130 and for a dinner 80, and don’t forget you can combine the space with Studio One for 300+.
Abbey Road are famous for pushing the boundaries of music and recording so it’s only fitting that they do this as an events space. Whatever your objectives and reasons for holding an event having the studios as a venue and backdrop is incomparable and could provide your delegates and guests with a truly mind-blowing experience.
As bucket lists go visiting Abbey Road was a definite tick for me, as an event planner I hope to have the opportunity to hold an event there one day, not just because of the venue but also meeting Jeremy who is probably one of the most passionate venue managers I’ve ever met, he truly loves what he does and who wouldn’t!
I had a magical morning and one that I will never, ever forget, even my coffee and egg buttie in the cafeteria afterwards was unforgettable, and of course when I left I couldn’t resist having my photo taken on the crossing outside by a rather bemused American tourist. My mum’s well impressed and thinks I should frame it!
Until next time #Eventprofs…