Well that was one big storm in a teacup. One minute a cash-strapped EMI were selling Abbey Road, prompting public outcry, a Save Abbey Road website, offers of £30 million from Andrew Lloyd Webber, comment from Sir Paul McCartney and even a massive groundswell of support on Facebook (well, 20,000 people, about 2% of the number who have signed up to the ‘Can This Sausage Roll Get More Fans Than Cheryl Cole?’ campaign).
Then they weren’t selling it. In the intervening panic, the National Trust stepped in (looking to add to their property portfolio that already includes Paul and John’s childhood homes), Chris Evans was making an official stand on Radio 2 (presumably in an attempt to appease Wogan’s disgruntled Togs) and Culture Minister Margaret Hodge finally got round to getting the historic studios marked as a listed building.
The main concern was that somewhere so seminal – the hallowed ground opened by Elgar conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in a rendition of ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’, a place that saw Glenn Miller’s final session and 90% of The Beatles’ recordings – could have its heritage besmirched by the hand of developers.
Truth is, Abbey Road’s legacy has been pissed on for years – and I’m not talking about the regular pilgrims that hold up traffic on the crossing (of which I’m guilty and which has been moved anyway). Did none of the campaigners watch Live From Abbey Road? The show that featured The Feeling, The Kooks and Craig David in series one, Matchbox Twenty, Kate Nash and Panic At The Disco in series two, and Mika, The Fray and Paolo Nunitini in series three? Or how about Keane’s 3D broadcast in association with B Sky B?
Lennon’s grave became a gymnasium around the time the guy responsible for this monstrosity was let through the door.
Last year I was lucky enough to hear the Beatles remasters played back in Studio Two and found myself by George Martin’s mixing desk talking to a junior engineer about the bands that they have to work with in the sacred space these days, and it was depressing listening.
If Abbey Road was turned into luxury flats I’d be first with the molotov cocktails, but keeping it open to all and sundry tarnishes the name year after year. Shut the place up, turn it into a museum. Ship in the old four-tracks and the anvil from ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’, get Ringo to record a few educational voiceovers, invite the hordes in and be done with it.
That’s the only way to truly immortalise such a rightly revered and seminal part of our musical heritage.