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Apple Studios

3 Savile Row London

Savile Row

It's the late 1960s and The Beatles have  been told that in order to avoid paying huge sums in tax they would need to spend some money; they came up with the idea of creating their very own Abbey Road. 
In June 1968 they acquired the premises at 3 Savile Row in London, a five story townhouse that had formally been 'The Albany', a gentleman's club. The basement area was rebuilt as the studio and offices set up  in the above floors.

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In much the same way that Normal Sheffield had designed Trident Studios to be the opposite in style and decor of Abbey Road, Apple Studios were the antithesis of the surroundings that The Beatles had been accustomed  to for so much  of their recording career. The basement setting at Apple was intimate -  decorated in colour and pattern, very much in keeping with the style of the sixties and early seventies  as opposed to the vast empty area and bland decor of a studio designed in the 1930s for classical music.

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The Original Design

The equipment side was originally to be organised by a  young Greek electronics guy given the name Magic Alex, who John had met at a party. Alex promised miracles in modern recording but when the band turned up for the first recording sessions much of the home build equipment not only didn't work but actually didn't make sense to anybody with even a basic knowledge of recording. It was a disaster and the studio was unusable. Fact and fiction tend to get mixed in regards to Magic Alex but one of the best stories is his invention of the 'Nothing Box'; a box with 12 lights on it which ran for five years and did nothing!

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Let it Be

For the recording of the 'Let it be' album that had to go back to EMI, cap in hand and borrow enough equipment to make an album.
"The desk [console] was made of particle board. It had eight or 16 faders on it, and eight speakers on the wall, little Telefunken speakers, and an oscilloscope in the middle. They found out before doing Let It Be that there was no hole in the wall to pass the cables through from the studio to the control room. They had to run them down the corridor. "
Geoff Emerick was persuaded by Paul McCartney to leave EMI and join Apple to rebuild the studio and become chief engineer. Redesigning and rebuilding the basement  took eighteen months.

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"I had wanted a Neumann mixing console, which Neumann was actually designing. But with Apple's financial situation at the time, we never ended up with it. We ended up with a 16-track Helios, which became available — a very clean mixing console. "   Geoff Emerick.

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The Equipment

Helios 36/16
Studer & 3M 16- track tape machines
4 x EMT Plate Reverbs
Cadac Monitors/Amps



The Studio reopened again in September 1971.  The first session was for the recording of the album 'Brother' by Lon and Derek Van Eaton who were one of the last signings to the Apple label.


The Rooftop Gig

On 30th January 1969, The Beatles played their famous live gig on the rooftop of Apple Studios.


The End

Apple Studios eventually got dismantled because Ringo decided that he wanted to put in a film scoring suite above it and use the equipment. This never happened and subsequently, Ringo had set up his own studios in Tittenhurst Park  by 1974.

In 1975 Ringo left the country due to tax reasons; John Lennon had already left in 1972. Caught in the legal wrangles of the Beatles split, Apple Studios was closed  for good on 16th May 1975 despite having just been refurbished .

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