11 legendary recording studios in London that every muso should know

31 years ago this week, the cream of 80s pop thronged Sarm Studios in Notting Hill to record the charity single, ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ Until then, few Londoners knew Basing Street studio W11 even existed – despite it being where Bob Marley & The Wailers recorded their ‘Exodus’ album and Led Zeppelin released ‘IV’. Although the site was recently given over to the luxury development crowd, Sarm is thankfully still here, based in Ladbroke Grove as part of the Sarm Music Village.

The former studios at Sarm West, Notting HillRobert Lordan

Here are ten other successful London factories steeped in musical history:

The Old Trident Studios, SohoRobert Lordan

Trident Studios, Cour Sainte-Anne

Nestled in the depths of Soho, Trident has been home to many legends over the years. It’s where the Beatles made ‘Hey Jude’, Carly Simon recorded the mysterious ‘You’re So Vain’ and T-Rex worked on their glamorous ‘Electric Warrior’ album. Trident also played an important role in David Bowie’s early career with ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Hunky Dory’ and ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust’ all set here. The establishment closed in 1981.

The old IBC studiosRobert Lordan

BAC, Portland Place

IBC started out as an independent broadcaster before moving into music production in the late 1950s. One of the first recordings made here was Lonnie Donegan’s ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ followed by The Kinks, who recorded “You Really Got Me” in 1964 and The Who’s rock opera, “Tommy” in 1969. Today, the vibe at 35 Portland Place is much more square – it’s now the Colombian Consulate.

Joe Meek’s former home, HollowayRobert Lordan

His RGM, Holloway Road

It may not look like much on the outside, but this apartment is where experimental producer Joe Meek – best known for his 1962 hit “Telstar” – set up the studio on least conventional of this list. Joe used every part of his digs for the recording, which included crowding performers on the stairs and bathroom and banging on the floor in order to pump the bass. Tragically, Joe suffered from depression and paranoia, which led to an incident in 1968 in which he shot his landlady before turning the gun on himself.

The former Britannia Row Studios, IslingtonRobert Lordan

Britannia Row Studios, Islington

Founded by Pink Floyd in the mid-1970s, Britannia Row was used for the recording of ‘Animals’ and parts of ‘The Wall’, including the famous vocal ‘We don’t need no education’ featuring children from the nearby school in Islington Green. (now the City of London Academy, Islington). Other notable albums made here include Squeeze’s ‘Cool For Cats’, Joy Division’s ‘Closer’ and New Order’s ‘Power Corruption and Lies’. The studio has since moved to Fulham.

The Old Townhouse StudiosRobert Lordan

Townhouse Studios, Goldhawk Road

Created by Richard Branson in 1978, it was at Townhouse Studios that Elton John reworked “Candle in the Wind” after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Townhouse also witnessed the recording of the album “Setting Sounds” by The Jam, “Great” by Blur. Escape’, ‘Different Class’ by Pulp, ‘X&Y’ by Coldplay, ‘Black Holes and Revelations’ by Muse and Queen’s soundtrack for the 1980 cheese festival ‘Flash Gordon’. Unfortunately, the townhouse has recently been converted into (drum roll, please) a block of luxury apartments.

Church Studios, Crouch HillRobert Lordan

The Church Studios, Crouch Hill

In the early 80s, the park chapel at Crouch End was bought by animators Bob Bura and John Hardwick – the team behind classics such as ‘Trumpton’ and ‘Captain Pugwash’. The first band to rent a studio here was The Eurythmics, who produced most of their albums at The Church, including 1983’s ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’. Bob Dylan is also known to tinker around in the church – giving rise to an urban myth that claims the sulky legend ended up sipping tea in a stranger’s house after mistaking Crouch Hill for Crouch. To finish Hill. Easily done.

Wessex Sound StudiosRobert Lordan

Wessex Sound Studios, Highbury New Park

Don’t let the looks fool you – this old parish hall tucked away behind St Augustine’s isn’t as picturesque as it looks. Sure, ‘Remember You’re a Womble’ was made here, but so was the jaw-dropping 1977 Sex Pistols album ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’. Wessex Sound were also chosen by The Clash for the production of their ‘London Calling’ album and Queen, who came here to beat the drums on ‘We Will Rock You’.

R.A.K. StudiosRobert Lordan

RAK, Charlbert Street

In 1976, flamboyant producer Mickie Most acquired this former schoolhouse in St John’s Wood – for a whopping £350,000 – and turned it into a bespoke base for his RAK label. A stone’s throw from Regent’s Park, RAK is where Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” ​​and The Cure’s “Love Cats” were recorded. Hot chocolate (with the late great Errol Brown) was a frequent pass too. Mickie Most also gained notoriety for producing the anarchic music show “Revolver” which featured a grumpy peter cook playing the cynical sidekick to a gang of new wave acts. ‘The X Factor’ it was not.

Abbey Road StudiosRobert Lordan

Abbey Road Studios, St John’s Wood

Opened in 1931, when ear candy was still delivered by gramophone, Abbey Road remains a musical landmark. Studio One alone can accommodate an orchestra of 110 musicians and 100 backup singers, and has hosted all sorts of big names, from Sir Edward Elgar to Kate Bush. Countless film scores have also been pressed here, including ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, ‘Return of the Jedi’, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and the soundtracks for all the films in the Harry series. Potter. All this before even considering the Fab Four, whose long association with the studio has blessed London with the world’s most famous pedestrian crossing (which you can view via live webcam here).

Olympic StudiosRobert Lordan

Olympic Studios

The equivalent of Abbey Road in South West London, Olympic Studios started life as a theater before opening its doors to some of pop’s biggest names. In 1963, the Rolling Stones recorded their very first single here – a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On”. The Troggs hammered “Wild Thing”, Dusty Springfield was a regular, and it was at Olympic that The Jimi Hendrix Experience produced all three of their studio albums. Like Abbey Road, Olympic was also a popular location for soundtrack production, with the scores for ‘The Italian Job’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ both being recorded here. Olympic Studios is now a popular cafe and cinema complex.

For more city sounds, check out London’s Top 100 Songs.