|Abbey Road Studios
A guide to the former Beatles London studios.
Abbey Road Studios:
Why the Tourist Crossed the Road
Nestled in the St. John's Wood section of Northwest London one finds a stately 19th century building and a famous pedestrian crosswalk that music fans from around the globe make a stop at on their pilgrimages to see places related to the Beatles. Abbey Road Studios, at 3 Abbey Road, London NW8, is where most of the Beatles' recordings took place between 1962 and 1969. This noble old building takes on nearly as great a stature as do England's ancient monuments. In fact, in the life of rock and roll, Abbey Road Studios might be considered an ancient (although fully functional) monument.
Throughout the Beatle years, hit songs such as "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and "Help!" were recorded here, as were the masterpiece albums Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and, of course, Abbey Road. Paul McCartney lived around the corner from the studios during the 1960s, and his house became a base for the Beatles to meet at before recording sessions. In the 1960s the studio was considered state of the art, and it has held up that reputation today, with scores for the movies Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Braveheart, and Star Wars - The Phantom Menace being among those recorded at Abbey Road.
As Abbey Road Studios is a working business, public tours are not available. However, for a short two-month period in the summer of 1983 the doors were opened to interested parties for guided visits and a ninety-minute video presentation in Studio Two. Since that time, the doors remain locked to the public and there are no future plans for tours.
How to Get to Abbey Road
To get to Abbey Road, depart the Underground at St. John's Wood Station; look to the southwest for Grove End Road, and follow Grove End Road for a few blocks, about ¼ mile. You'll come to a monument on a pedestal, and the famous Abbey Road album cover crosswalk (the markings on the asphalt have changed somewhat since 1969). Belisha beacons (lighted globes on posts) at the zebra crossing are there to warn drivers that this is a popular spot for pedestrians to cross the street.
Some tourists might dare to have their picture taken in the middle of the crossing - I know I felt it obligatory to do just that on a visit to London. I did feel just a little on the silly side when posing, but I figured that it was likely that my embarrassment would fade by the time I left the neighborhood. Be on the lookout for vehicles if you decide to have your picture taken in the crosswalk. It's a busy intersection and not every driver is willing to stop for a tourist who wants to have his or her picture snapped where the Beatles' picture was taken for the Abbey Road album cover. A minute's walk from the crossing is a nondescript white building with gray trim and a low, gated wall filled with graffiti written by tourists from around the world. A small, unassuming sign above the building's front door reads "Abbey Road Studios."
© 2001 Todd Wisti
Todd Wisti writes about Abbey Road Studios amongst other topics in respect to British travel in his book Full English Breakfast. Visit the FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST web site or buy Todd Wisti's Book here Full English Breakfast: A Ramble Through London, Wales, and Yorkshire: Travel, Adventures, and History
Also by Todd Wisti