Star Sound Studios
18 Rodmarton Street London
Built in the early 1930s, Besant Hall was originally a meeting hall for the Theosophical Society. By 1937 it had changed ownership and was redesigned as a small theatre for the recording of live audience shows predominantly for Radio Luxembourg. It was named Star sound Studios.
It featured two blocks of seats seats on the ground floor recording area with a capacity for 150 people and a further 130 people could be seated on a balcony area that overlooked a stage.It was certainly one of the the county's first independent studios starting with disk recording onto wax and then as one of the first commercial concerns to bring in tape machines in 1949.
A plaque on the wall at the time read:
“In this studio in June 1949, Star Sound Studios
recorded the first full length radio programme
to be recorded on magnetic tape in Great
It was estimated that up to 1960, Star Sound had recorded 18,000 radio program's and 3000 TV commercials. In that same year they opened up a dedicated film recording centre in Romneys House, Hampstead.
The original sound desk was a collection of various units in a console feeding 3 x Ampex 2-tracks, an EMI TR 90 and a 4 track Scully 4.
At the end of the 1960s, the studio came up for sale and studio engineer Richard Millard - who had done extensive work there for Radio Luxenburg -proposed that the radio station should buy the place. The came to a deal with MAM Records and on August 1st 1970 Star Sound was purchased jointly by the two businesses
MAM Records was a newly founded British record label launched by successful artist manager Gordon Mills. At the time Gordon Mills was managing Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdink and had just discovered Gilbert O’Sullivan.
Tom Jones, Gordon Mills and Engelbert Humperdink
The studio now had a marked change in direction of music clients as well as equipment. The newly named Audio International became one on the most highly regarded studios in the UK and certainly one of the best sounding.
The seating was removed and a new control room was built replacing what was originally the stage. The balcony became a speech studio.
1970 - Neve 24:163 x Studer A80s 16 and 8 track tape machines.
One of the first sessions in the new studio was the first album ‘Himself’ by Gilbert O’Sullivan, produced by Gordon Mills with sessions beginning in November 1970.
Later that year, Gilbert O'Sullivan started his run of hit singles on the MAM label with ‘Nothing Rhymed’. In1972 Alone Again (Naturally) topped the USA charts for six weeks and garnering three Grammy nominations. Soon after, he got his first three British number one hits with Clair - inspired by Gorden Mills daughter - Get Down and the LP ‘Back to Front’.
1970s Glam Rock
Producers Nicky China and Mike Chapman started to use the studio recording Suzi Quatro's first album there in 1973 which including the singles Can the Can and 48 Crash.
They would also produce what were probably the most successful singles by The Sweet, Ballroom Blits, Blockbuster and Hellraiser at Audio International.
“Because these engineers had to be on the ball, they had the best equipment,” Scott recalls. “It was literally: a drum sound, 15 minutes and we’re off. You had the backing tracks for both sides in those first three hours – the next three would be the vocal"
In 1986 the studio would install what would be the last Cadac recording studio console to be produced; the company had decided to concentrate on the Theatre market.
By 1987 MAM Records had been taken over by Chrysalis Records who now co-owned the studio with Radio Luxemburg.