London

Abbey Road
Abbey Road

“We reached maturity in London”

Like Liverpool, Hamburg and New York, London owes its existence to the body of water it stands on.

River Thames once flowed from Wales to Clacton and became a part of the River Rhine.  This was before the North Sea was in existence when Britain was still connected to mainland Europe.

The north bank of the Thames was the first known London settlement, established by the Ancient Britons, it later became the Port of London.

London Music Before The Beatles 

In the late 1950s the UK music industry was run from London, with all the record companies, TV and radio, and most recording studios in the capital. If you were going to make it in the business, you had to be in London. Also, the London scene was controlled by a small group of people. Music publishers and song writers were based in Denmark Street, known as London’s ‘Tin Pan Alley’ named after a similar street in New York.

There were only two TV companies – The BBC and ITV, and the BBC had a legal monopoly of radio broadcasting.

Much of the entertainment industry in London was dominated by the Grade Family. Lew Grade ran ATV, that ran ITV television stations and was huge music publishing company. With his brother Leslie, he ran a huge theatrical agency.  His other brother Bernard, later Lord Delfont, owned many of the London theatres.

Tony Sheridan – the 2 Is to Hamburg

The only guitarist at the time who was any good was Tony Sheridan – Jimmy Page

“Soho was, in effect, an island, vaguely resembling Greenwich Village in its aims and trends, especially in the music field. Everything happened in Old Compton Street, Wardour Street, and there were about 40 regular personalities that meant something”. – Tony Sheridan

“Saturday Night in St Pauli made Soho look like a sleepy village fete”. Rick Richards of the Jets

Tony Sheridan started to visit London in late 1957, and became a regular at the 2 Is. He later teamed up with The Beatles to make their first record, “My Bonnie”.

The Beatles First Trips to London

“When we came down to London we were the provincial kids coming down to the big city, so it was all magic to us, all those buildings, all those names: ‘Kensington, wow! Chelsea, gosh!’ Whenever we came to London, we went to Charing Cross Road for the guitar shops. It was like going to Santa’s grotto. We just window shopped and dreamed. Paul McCartney

Abbey Road Studios

EMI Studios opened on 12th November 1931, when Sir Edward Elgar conducted the London Symphony Orchestra playing Elgar’s own composition, Land of Hope and Glory. Since then countless musical stars have passed through the studio’s doors.

During the early days the studios official title was EMI Studios, it didn’t change its name until AFTER The Beatles album of the same name came out.

The Beatles visit Abbey Road

The Beatles first visited Abbey Road on 6th June 1962 for their audition with George Martin. After hearing them play many songs, George Martin gave The Beatles a long lecture on recording techniques. Then he said, “Ok, I’ve had my say, now you tell me if there is anything you don’t like.” After a short pause, George Harrison commented, “Well, for a start, I don’t like your tie!” Fortunately, George Martin had a good sense of humour, and The Beatles passed their audition.

Discover more about The Beatles and London in The Beatles Fab Four Cities.

Richard Porter