The recording studio conundrum: preservation vs. redevelopment

Hello all, this weekend AlJazeera English published my article about the changing face of music and film studios in London.

I embarked on this mission because the iconic Sarm Studios (formerly Basing Street Studios, where Bob Marley lived for a year and recorded two albums) is a short walk from my flat in Notting Hill. I noticed that it was being converted into flats (with plush studios moved into the basement, along with new facilities opened on Ladbroke Grove) and decided to look into how big a trend this was in London.

I had no idea.

Over the past 10-15 years, well over a dozen notable music studios have closed in London alone. It’s an expansive list, ranging from the groundbreaking (Olympic Studios in Chiswick, where Hendrix recorded all three of his studio albums, and the Stones did their best work – now a Cinema), to the niche (Maison Rouge, in Fulham, known for 80s bands Wham! and Duran Duran – now a car park for Chelsea FC).

Along with Abbey Road, one studio that was rescued — despite planning permission to convert it into flats — is Church Studios in Crouch End. Ironically, singer-songwriter David Gray owned the converted church (founded by Dave Stewart of the Eurithmics) and was behind the move. Eventually, it found its way into the hands of Adele’s producer who modernized it in time for U2 to record their new album a few months back.

Here’s a partial list of London studios shut down in recent years:

Music:

Olympic Studios, (closed Feb 2009)

(All three Jimi Hendrix studio albums, Zeppelin, The Who, Bowie, The Rolling Stones, etc etc — most notable of all the closures to date)

 
Townhouse Studios (closed april 2008)
 
Founded by Richard Branson in 1978.  Phil Collin’s In The Air Tonight recorded there. Along with   Elton JohnQueenBryan FerryColdplayMuseDuran DuranJamiroquaiKylie Minogue,OasisRobbie Williams
 
Eden Studios (closed July 2007; knocked down for housing)
(Elvis Costello, George Michael, Oasis, Sex Pistols)
 
 
 
Wessex Sound Studios (Sold to developer in 2003, now luxury block of flats)
 
 
 
 
Whitfield Street Studios (formerly Sony and CBS Studios — closed in 2005 by property developer)
 
(Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne, Bing Crosby)
 
 
The Fallout Shelter  (Sold in 2005, now office space)
 
(Bob Marley & The Wailers, U2, Cat Stevens, Robert Palmer, Steve Winwood, Grace JonesTom WaitsMelissa EtheridgeAmy Winehouse
 
 
Mayfair Studios (closed Dec 2008)
 
(Spice Girls, The Smiths,  Tina TurnerCliff RichardThe ClashPink FloydBee Gees,)
 
 
 
Maison Rouge (sold in 2000, now car park for Chelsea FC)
 
(Wham! Duran Duran, Jethro Tull)
 
 
 
RG Jones Studios (Closed 2001)
 
(Cliff Richard, A-Ha, Another Level) 
 
 
 
The Power Plant – formerly Morgan Studios – (closed in late 80s)
 
 
 
Film:
 
Teddington Studios, (closing beginning of 2015)
 
(Benny Hill, Morecambe and Wise, Pop Idol)
 
 
BBC TV Centre (closed 2013)
 
 
You'd barely look twice at it, but a ton of great music was made behind those walls. Everyone from The Eagles, to Queen to The Clash to Led Zeppelin, to Madonna and Rihanna recorded at Sarm.

You’d barely look twice at it, but a ton of great music was made behind those walls. Everyone from The Eagles, to Queen to The Clash to Led Zeppelin, to Madonna and Rihanna recorded at Sarm.

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About The Frugal Fan
Lifelong sports fan, and semi-pro blogging hack. If you enjoy what you read (or even if you don't) gimme a shout: motez56 (at) gmail

One Response to The recording studio conundrum: preservation vs. redevelopment

  1. S MCNUTT says:

    Dear Motez, Hello! So nice to hear what you’re doing, and to see the beginning of a music project, which I know you have been thinking about for a long time, and, wow, AlJazeera! Well done you! I hope you’re well, and I look forward to more posts from you. Love, Stacey

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