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Island Farm, Egerton, Kent
Escape was a residential studio in Kent, situated on a farm and constructed in a converted barn, set up in by the brothers Ted and Richard Roffey in 1972. They had owned a road haulage and turfing business in South East London but had decided to sell up, move to the countryside and become farmers. They bought 50 acres of land in Kent and Richard set up home on a farm that dated back to the 12th century, included a 200 year old oast house and a large barn. Richard had pursued a separate career for many years as a vocalist and had had the idea of building a studio for his own use. The barn and available accommodation in the oast house presented itself as a new business opportunity as a commercial studio.
They had the finance available to build a professional studio with the necessary soundproofing, acoustic treatment and equipment. They ordered a new Sound Techniques System 12 desk, with a Studer 8 Track.
Tony Taverner, who had previously worked in Marquee Studios, became the in-house engineer and the studio ran successfully for the next few years turning out a number of major label albums.
The most successful recording of this period was with the rock band Nazareth and their version of the song Love Hurts that charted in the Billboard top ten in America.
The New York Dolls came into the studio in October 1972 to record a set of demos.
In 1975 Tony Taverner left Escape to pursue a successful solo career as a freelance sound engineer.
It was around this time that the studio temporarily closed and the original equipment was sold off.
Producer/engineer John Burns had acquired a full set of recording equipment and was looking for a place to set it up;
He went into a 50/50 partnership with Richard Roffey.
"I was quite a homely person, and I wanted a country studio where I could have my dogs and record and produce”.
Burns had spent 10 years working for Genesis co-produced three albums: Live, Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
With the royalties I'd earned from Genesis I bought all this equipment second-hand from Steve Marriott and various other places, because I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted quality.
This was centred around a Helios desk that was the originally built for Steve Marriot of The Small Faces and a 16-track Studer A80 tape machine.
The studio was redecorated and the control room re-sited and enlarged.
In April 1977 Motorhead booked into the studio to record a single and B-side. This was almost a last gasp attempt to secure a record deal, the band being on the verge of splitting up. John Burns engineered the sessions and Speedy Keen (Something in the Air - Thunderclap Newman vocalist) was to produce.
After less than 24 hours, they had laid down 14 backing tracks and it became obvious that they had recorded the foundations of a great album. They stayed for two extra days to complete the “Motorhead” album.
Once we had the bones of an album in the can we worked out a deal. I gave them an advance of five grand, including recording costs, which were about two-and-a-half. They needed the rest to pay off Eddie’s guitar and buy Phil a drum kit.
Well, I enjoyed the first 18 months, but then I wasn't getting paid my 50 percent cut. I was doing all the sessions and I owned all the equipment. (John Burns)
In 1978, the day before John Burns was due to remove his equipment, the studio was broken in to and the majority of the equipment was stolen.
What happened to the Helios desk?
Recorded at Escape Studios
New York Dolls • Demos - October 1972
Beck, Bogert, Appice • Tracks for second album - October 1973
Planxy • The Well Below The Valley - 18 June 1973
Future Legends • Fruupp - July 1973
Seven Secrets • Fruupp - 1974
Jonesy • Growing - 1973
Horslips • The Tain - November 1973
Jones • Sudden Prayers Make God Jump - 1974
String Driven Thing • Please Mind Your Head - 1974
Nazareth • Love Hurts (single)
Nazareth • Hair of the Dog - 1974
Zebra • Panic - 1975
Motorhead • Motorhead - April 1977
The Only Ones • Another Girl, Another Planet - April 1978
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