|Juan, Paula, George (with ladder) and Brioux|
LONDON–Folks who come to this alleged TV site often are probably a little Beatled out by now, but in the spirit of 50 years since ’64, please forgive another indulgence.
I’ve been fortunate to come to England this week as a guest of Shaw Media to visit the set of 24: Live Another Day. More on that when the series premieres May 5 on Global and Fox.
Continuing on my own personal Magical Mystery Tour, I had to check out Abbey Road studios while in the U.K. Some come to England to visit St. Paul’s or Winchester Cathedral, I abide by the book of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
The studio is tucked in a relatively quiet, residential corner off the downtown area known as St. John’s Wood in the City of Westminster. “Think John as in Lennon, Wood as in Norwegian Wood,” suggested a helpful tour guide from bigbustours.com. (Highly recommended, by the way, and make sure to get one with live commentary.)
I walked past Baker Street, where a Beatles store stands besides a Sherlock Holmes store. Madam Tussuad’s is around the corner.
When I came upon Abbey Road studios, I found I wasn’t the only one who still has this Beatles itch. Dozens of fans were there, from all over the world. A few had pens out and were writing on the white wall on the street in front of the fabled recording studio. Not only is this where The Beatles recorded 90% of their songs, but Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was an Abbey Road production. Everyone from Adele to The Zombies have recorded there. John Williams recorded the scores of five Star Wars films at Abbey Road. Howard Shore did The Lord of the Rings music there, too.
The Beatles primarily used Studio 2. The place was called EMI then. Before The Beatles, George Martin recorded comedy albums with The Goons at Abbey Road.
There is a gate, used to keep the “Apple scruffs” at bay back in the day. It was wide open Wednesday, but the tourists all respectfully stayed on the sidewalk.
The famous crossing immortalized on the Abbey Road album cover is directly outside on the street. The road is busier than I expected, making picture taking hazardous. I manged to talk two tourists into crossing with me and grabbed a good-natured local who was crossing the street with a ladder and a bucket. That’s the four of us above caught in our Abbey Road moment. Others were doing likewise. A man on the scene from San Francisco told me there’s a 24-hour, live “EarthCam” site where you can see tourists engaged in just this kind of nonsense, you can find it here.
|Rehearsing the shot in the wrong direction|
The shot should really be taken in the middle of the street but, again, the traffic. There was some discussion about one of us taking off our shows and holding a cigarette–like Paul McCartney on the album cover–but there really wasn’t time. The drivers who waited were more indulgent than they’d likely be in Toronto.
|The Abbey House is right next door|
I looked everywhere but couldn’t find a VW Beetle with the licence place “28IF.”
There is an Abbey Road House apartment building right next door. A young woman from the Ukraine asked me to snap her picture in front of the apartment sign. An elderly lady in a wheel chair came out and glared, saying, “You want the place next door.”
I said my Hail Marys and headed back down the street when I caught up with the young woman looking a bit dazed and confused. And no wonder: she had just been robbed of 300 pounds! The thief just straight out asked her for money. For some reason she reached in her bag and handed him some and then he ran off down the street. Is nothing sacred–people making illegal money off The Beatles. The girl still had her passport and more cash at least, but she should have paid more attention to Abbey Road, especially the lyrics, “You never give me your money!”
|Spotted this on a bus on the way back: “Tikka To Ride”|