201 Piccadily, London W1V 9LE
Command Studios was one of the largest
and most ambitious studio complexes in the UK in the 70s.
In the 1930s 201 Piccadilly
had been a Lyons restaurant where the trendy set used to collect
at tea dances. The BBC took over the building and during the war years, under the name The Stagedoor Canteen, it was used to broadcast
troop shows such as Itma and the Ben Lyon series. Glenn
Miller is said to have made his last broadcast from there. In
the fifties it became known as Piccadilly One.The
end of the sixties and early seventies were a golden era for
recording studios i.e they could make money. By
the end of the sixties Jacques Levy was no longer associated
with Levy Studios in Bond Street, which had been bought by CBS,
and was looking to start another studio. Denis Comper had outgrown
his studio in Putney and felt he wanted to be involved in something
bigger. In 1970 he and Levy decided to embark
on a joint project for which Comper said he would try to find
a quarter of a million pounds, raised through outside investment.
They were looking for premises when the BBC decided to close
all their outside studios for economic reasons. Piccadilly
One became available, the lease was acquired and Command Studios was built.
On the ground floor was the large Studio One, 7.3m high with a floor area of 223 sq.m. On the floor below were two studios. Studio Two had an area of 102 Sq.m and Studio Three an area of 84 sq.m. Between them was a vocal booth which could be used for either studio and which had an area of 13 sq.m. The upper studio, Number One, was a fully equipped theatre with lighting, dimmer panels, tip-up seats. The control room had been built on the balcony and was reached from the studio by a spiral staircase.
Each control room was then equipped with a 24 J24 Automated Processes desk (API) , and 8/16 track Scully tape machine (convertible to 24 tracks).
the first 18 months of the
studio's life, whilst setting up,they ran at a loss. This
was to be expected but business was not as good in the second
year as had been anticipated. This was not helped by a range of technical problems including
control room monitoring peculiarities and frequent equipment breakdowns.
There were also disagreements in the management structures.
The story in many ways is similar to the Music Centre
in Wembley except that the Music Centre was bailed out by joining
forces with CTS Studios. Command had no such white knight and
eventually the receivers were brought in.
The story ended in December 1974 when its equipment was sold.
Recorded at Command Studios :
Music (debut album) - March 72
Crimson - Larks Tongues in Aspic - 1973
and Eno - No Pussyfooting
- (First international LP) Jan 1973