If you’re an uber Beatles fan like moi, having a peek inside Abbey Road has got to be on your bucket list. And feasting your eyes on “Studio Two” where their most iconic songs were recorded would be the cherry on top. Right?
Last March when I was planning my trip to London to record for my album, I reached out to several influential colleagues to see if they could get me in. Yamaha’s Howard Massey came through. But alas, due my my unfortunate vocal hemorrhage 😣I had to postpone my trip. I was beside myself, not just because I’d have to wait to record with Phil Thornalley, but because I didn’t know if Kayla (Howard’s connection), would remember me in another few months. .
As it turns out I rescheduled my trip for this week, poetically right around the 50th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road the album. I emailed Kayla to request entry and she said…yes. Friday early morning. It would be a “brief walk through” but she could arrange it. Fabulous! I would savor every second.
As luck would have it (and sometimes luck is on your side), I dined last night with Create Advertising’s Heather Kreamer, an LA Music Supervisor who was also in town. Heather mentioned she was going to Abbey Road the next day (today) to observe a string session and WOULD I LIKE TO COME???
Umm. Hmm. Let me think. It would probably be a more extensive experience than my Friday walk through so I said OKAY! Wouldn’t you?
So, after my session with Phil today (and on the same day we recorded a new version of our song “George and John”), I headed over. Phil lives very close to Abbey Road so I was on foot. And as I turned onto THE street, full of anticipation and excitement, here are some things that happened:
I noticed people were out and about, pushing baby strollers, riding bikes and jogging…like it was JUST ANOTHER STREET! Like Abbey Road didn’t exist. Hello! Elephant in the room! Hellooooo!?
I thought I saw George Martin.
I thought this sign was a misspell of “Let It Be.”
I didn’t want anyone to see me taking this picture in front of the street sign (you know the one — you have one too). So if they looked at me I pretended I was on my phone just leaning up against some wall.
I will not be walking the zebra crossing. Been there, done it many times. Plus, I can’t do it all by myself. Oh and…this what it looks like at night — Nobody’s walking!
While I dictated these thoughts into a voice memo I did one of those trips on broken pavement and then pretended nothing happened. You know the drill.
As I got closer and closer to the studio I tried to compose myself. I didn’t want to stumble in like I just did on the sidewalk. There were tons of people outside taking pictures, holding on to the gate, signing the wall, crying!
I passed right by them and slipped through the entrance to the parking area like I belonged there, up the steps and through the front door. The receptionist asked if I was “Shelly.” What? (Heather must have given him the heads up that I’d be coming). She came to fetch me and off we went to the enormous Studio One, where in 1967 the orchestra for “A Day In The Life” was recorded.
But wait. It gets better. Then we were escorted to the “Galley,” an open-air loft space above the ensemble where, if you’re as quiet as a mouse, you can listen to the orchestra without anything in between them and your ears. Totally Naked Sound.
We walked the halls. We saw the canteen. The echo chamber. I used the loo. And then…
A young assistant engineer asked if we’d like to see…Studio Two. We were little kids at Christmas. Literally jumping up and down and clapping. Yaaaaaas please!
There were signs posted all over that said “No Photos” but young engineer told us to knock ourselves out. What had I done to deserve this?
In we walked. Studio Two. What do you say? What do you do? There are no words. Breath in the air. This is where…those are the stairs…the two pianos that played that last ringing chord at the very end of “A Day In The Life” (don’t miss the demo at the end of the blog). The reel to reel. The control room and the console. I’ve seen it all in a million pictures. It’s different when you see it with your own eyes. I miss the Beatles. We’re so fortunate that their worlds collided and we all got to reap the benefits. I was standing in history. Other people record here every day. It’s their normal. Not mine.
After the disappointment of having to cancel in March I can’t help but wonder if it was meant to be. Did the Universe know Heather would be here? And that she’d invite me? Who knows. It was definitely worth the wait.
Thank you, Universe. Thank you, Howard. Thank you to my wifey Suzan who suggested Heather and I get together while we were both in London. Thank you, Luck. And Thank You, Kayla — who I emailed to explain the mitzvah, and expressed my appreciation for her generousity and her willingness to get up early on a Friday morning to make someone happy. Now she can sleep late. I hope she doesn’t think me ungrateful.
My bucket list definitely just got shorter.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this story please sign up to receive a weekly tidbit here. Get a copy “Confessions of a Serial Songwriter.” Visit my Serial Songwriter Facebook Page and give it a like if you'd be so kind. Stay tuned for my upcoming DEBUT album. Follow me on Twitter and Insta. ☮️