Abbey Road Visited and Revisited

Fifty years ago on this day in Beatles history (Friday, April 18), George Harrison recorded to perfection the raucous guitar solo on “Old Brown Shoe” in Studio Three at EMI Recording Studios. After nailing the solo, he joined producer Chris Thomas in the control room to mix the song, which would be released six weeks later as the B-side to a song John Lennon and Paul McCartney had recorded a few days earlier: “The Ballad of John and Yoko”.

In what turned out to be 14-hour marathon for Harrison, he then joined John Lennon in Studio Two to work on guitar overdubs of the hypnotic riff in the extended outro of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. The 7:47-minute Lennon composition was the first song recorded for Abbey Road but one of the last to be finished. Released in September 1969, the album would be The Beatles’ last.

The historic significance of Studio Two is top of mind for me, having just returned from a series of press events hosted by the speaker gurus at Bowers & Wilkins in and around London. The first stop was a tour of the former EMI Recordings Studios where Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series speakers have been used since the early 1980s and where The Beatles recorded 190 of their 210 songs over an insanely productive seven-year career. In 1970, EMI Recording Studios was renamed Abbey Road Studios in a fitting tribute to the band and album that had made it famous.

Walking through the doors of Studio Two was a spiritual experience for this life-long Beatles fan. Dozens of tunes ran through my head as I imagined myself standing next to the boys in the hallowed space, which looks much like it did back in the day thanks to an ongoing effort to preserve the room’s acoustical character. From “Love Me Do” to “Eleanor Rigby” to “Come Together,” Studio Two was the stage for an ever-evolving musical journey, the likes of which we will not see again but will continue to enjoy for generations to come through a unique catalog of original recordings that have been meticulously preserved.

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