Beatles History For Sale:
Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road, the London recording studios immortalized by The Beatles album of the same name, has been put on the market by EMI as the music group looks to extricate itself from the debt burden of Terra Firma's 2007 leveraged buy-out.

EMI would not comment, but people familiar with the situation told the Financial Times it had been courting bidders for the property in St John's Wood. A sale could raise tens of millions of pounds.  It was not immediately clear whether EMI would sell the Abbey Road brand name along with the property, but one media lawyer said: "The brand is worth more than the building... anybody who wants the studios will want the brand."

EMI bought the house at number 3 Abbey Road for £100,000 ($160,000) in 1929 and transformed it into the world's first custom-built recording studios.  In 1962, The Beatles met George Martin there and recorded a test for EMI. They were later invited back to record their first single, “Love Me Do”, which charted and started Beatlemania soon after.

The studio has been used by The Beatles since the breakup many times. Paul recorded many of his famous albums there and EMI used the studios for The Beatles Anthology TV special and for last year's release of Beatles remastered CDs.  Other notable recordings include Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Lately the studios have faced cheaper competition from recording facilities in other countries, and technological advances allowing artists to record using only a laptop compute,r have made it harder for labels to justify owning expensive recording infrastructure or paying expensive studio time.

Abbey Road is still prized as one of the few venues able to accommodate entire orchestras, which has allowed producers to record scores there for films such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

EMI has worked to exploit the Abbey Road brand name in recent years, launching a service called Abbey Road Live last November that offers fans the chance to buy instant concert recordings at venues.

Depending on the level of offers it attracts, a sale could bolster EMI's finances at a time when Terra Firma is seeking £120M ($188M) from investors by June to avoid breaching covenants on £3.3B ($5.17B) of loans from Citigroup. However, it is unlikely that the proceeds would arrive in time or be large enough to help significantly with that deadline.


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The Beatles used Abbey Road for 90 percent of their recordings between 1962 and 1969 and named their final album, Abbey Road after it.  They are seen in the famous photo crossing the street away from Abbey Road.  That street crossing has become an iconic landmark where fans photograph themselves crossing the zebra 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It even has its own webcam so you can see people crossing at all hours of the day and night.

Fans also write messages on its white walls so much so that the walls have to be repainted about every three months.