Abbey days are here again as recording studio is saved

From flats to flats and sharps – historic Angel Studios is bought by Beatles’ recording facility

Friday, 30th April 2021 — By Calum Fraser

Angel Studios

The Angel Studios

MUSICIANS are celebrating a victory for the industry as a much-loved recording studio was saved after it was snapped up by the famous Abbey Road Institute.

The Angel Studios, where the likes of Adele, The Cure and The Clash have recorded songs, was closed and put up for sale at the end of 2019.

The Tribune reported then on how composers were making a desperate bid to save the site in Upper Street from being sold to a developer who could change its use. Some feared it could be converted into more “luxury flats”.

But it was announced this week that the educational arm of the renowned Abbey Road Studios has now taken over the Grade II-listed building.

Michael Price, who has composed music for several well-known TV series such as BBC’s Sherlock and ITV’s Unforgotten, told the Tribune: “I think really, the Abbey Road as a group taking over Angel is one of the few incredibly welcome green shoots in what has been a brutal time for musicians and particularly those who played live and in the West End. “The last year has been an incredibly challenging time.”

Scores for blockbuster films such as the James Bond film GoldenEye and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge were recorded at the Angel Recording Studios.

Mr Price, who lives in Canonbury, said: “I think there’s no way to hide from the fact that both Brexit and the pandemic have systemically damaged musicians.

Composer Michael Price

“Those of us, the composers in a position to try and employ musicians and create opportunities, have a responsibility to employ real musicians as often as we can.

“Keeping the Angel Recording Studios gives us a chance to do that.”

Without the ability to perform in the same room, many studios have taken to recording remotely as well as building their own recording booths at home as technology becomes cheaper.

Mr Price warned that this could threaten the prominence London holds as a hub of some of the best studios in the world.

He added: “As more opportunities for people to play live and to fill studios appear, I think people will really hear what they have been missing.

“Recording 50 musicians over Zoom is an impressive technical feat but it’s nothing like the live thing. As they say, use it or lose it.”

The building dates back to 1888 when it was built as the Islington Chapel and had a congregation until 1979. It was then bought by music mogul James De Wolfe who owned studios around the world.

His children announced they would sell the studio in 2019.

It is the first time in Abbey Road’s near-100-year history that it has expanded beyond its base in St John’s Wood – immortalised by the Beatles’ album of the same name.

Luca Barassi, Abbey Road Institute’s chief executive, said: “The move into Angel Studios brings many possibilities for our school, our students and our international Abbey Road Institute family, enabling us to start our next chapter.

“The history and relevance of Angel and the impressive studio space and building full of character, will all play a part in the next stage of Abbey Road Institute’s evolution.”

Restoration work will be undertaken in the coming months with the new owners hoping to have students and clients in the building by the end of summer.

A commercial studio for musicians and composers to rent will be maintained alongside keeping much of the space for students.

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