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Air Studios

Fourth floor -  214 Oxford Street, London.

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As early as 1963 George Martin had made the decision to leave EMI. A record producer working at Abbey Road in the early sixties may have signed artists and turned out the hits - in George's case making millions for the company - but they were still a salaried record company employee. He had worked round the clock that year with his productions holding the No.1 spot for 37 weeks but success didn't really materialise into financial reward.


He received his annual salary of £3000 and was flatly refused any bonus or royalty payments. This was  standard practice in the 1960 and he was not alone with this situation. Along with John Burgess from Capitol Records, Peter Sullivan from Decca, Ron Richards from EMI, they decided to become freelance, financing the recordings of artists and then negotiating a royalty for the finished masters from the record companies.

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  Associated Independent Recordings (AIR) was established, setting up headquarters in offices in Park Street, London and booking studio time in Abbey Road, Chappells, Decca and Morgan. The plan was to eventually build their own studios and by 1967 the group had earned enough  royalties from these new production deals to finance the venture. Premises were found in  Oxford Street on the fourth floor of what was once Peter Robinson's department store and a banqueting hall.


There must have numerous times during the history of the studio were musicians and crew alike have have questioned the wisdom of locating a studio on the 4th floor of a building on one of the busiest roads in London with very limited access and poor  parking facilities.
Possible no more than in the early 80s with the installation of a new SSL desk as a crane had to be brought in and part of Oxford Road closed off to traffic.


Work started in October 1969 and was complete by July 1970. 

'Along with the consumption of 450 bottles of the finest Bollinger, Air Studios opened on October 6th 1970.'


 The first commercial recording was for the Climax Blues band third album followed in the same week by Cilla Black. Climax were also the first band to record in AIR Montserrat ten years later.


The complex started with two studios; Studio One, the largest being able to accommodate an orchestra for film scoring work and the smaller Studio Two for bands. Both were 16 track, fitted with Neve desks, the original 3M tape machines being replaced soon after with Studers.

By 1971 there were three studios in operation  equipped with Neve 24/16 desks and 16 track Studer tape machines.

June 1972 -  Air Studios claims to be the first operational 24 Track in the UK (there are a number of other studios that claim this as well).

July 21st  1973 - A Neve 32/24 is installed in Studio Two.

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In 1975  an A3519, 32/24 is installed.

In 1977 Neve built  the AIR Montserrat console, an A4792. This was  followed by  two almost identical  consoles for Air in Oxford Street. In 1979 an A6630  and A7971 installed in Air Studio Two in October 1980.

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1977  -  All four studios equipped with  Neve 32/24  and 3M Mincom Multitracks.

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Air Montserrat

Construction of the second AIR studios began in the mid 1970's on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. The idea for the new studio had come to George Martin and Geoff Emerick whilst recording he band America in Hawaiian.

'Working with America was most pleasurable. We took the Record Plant mobile to Kauai and rented a house where we set up a studio. This was really what sparked off AIR Monserrat because it was a terrific working environment.'

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The Police recording the video to
'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' 
at Air Montserrat.

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In 1989 Hurricane Hugo devastated the island and the studio was forced to close.

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Air Lyndhurst

In the early nineties, with the lease on the Oxford Street premises coming to an end, a new site was chosen for the continuation of AIR.


This was to be located in an old church called Lyndhurst Hall in Hampstead, London. A site of significant architectural and historical interest, Lyndhurst Hall was designed in 1880 by Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse (designer of the Natural History Museum).


AIR Lyndhurst opened in December 1992.

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