The environment that we work in has a huge effect on the kind of work we create. From our office spaces to the comfort of our own homes, surroundings are important. That goes double for recording artists and the booths that they create in. The style and feel of a specific studio can help spur new creativity and bring originality and inventiveness to a project. Some of history’s greatest artists have worked in the most legendary of recording studios, and the work they produced in these places has shaped our culture of music and the sounds we hear on the radio today. Here are several legendary recording spaces that have seen some of the biggest musical hits of the twentieth century.
Abbey Road Recording Studios
You can probably guess that this is where The Beatles recorded their famous “Abbey Road” album, with the iconic pedestrian out front. But other hugely impactful albums were also recorded here, including Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”, Radiohead’s “The Bends”, and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”
Photos by Sander Lamme
Trident Studios was a recording studio located in London’s Soho district from the late sixties to early eighties. Such classics came out of this facility as Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” and David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust”. Like few other recording studios, many notable artists recorded here, including James Taylor, Joe Cocker, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and Tina Turner.
The studio was built by the Sheffield brothers, and they focused on high quality sound engineering, which only added to Trident’s popularity. Today, the studio is called Trident Sounds Studio Ltd, paying homage to the original studio, though only part of the building is still in use.
Sunset Sound Recorders
Located in Hollywood, California, this little one room recording studio was originally created for Disney’s movie recording needs. Classic Disney films such as Mary Poppins and 101 Dalmatians were recorded here. As time moved on, Sunset Sound switched gears and began bringing in classic rock talent. The Beach Boys recorded the legendary “Pet Sounds” album, and the unforgettable sounds of “Exile on Main St” by the Rolling Stones also came out of this little studio.
When you think of Berry Gordy’s Motown, think of Hitsville USA, a small Detroit home converted to a recording studio, open 22 hours per day in the sixties and seventies. Many say that this was not just a location, but a place where history would be made. Histville recorded classic albums like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Stevie Wonder’s debut album “The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie”. Nowadays, it’s known as the Motown museum, with thousands of visitors coming each year to pay tribute to this historical spot.
Photo by Chris Butcher
Sun Studio was all about southern rock and roll. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, this recording facility boasts the title of birthplace of rock and roll. The list of incredible artists that recorded here is a mile long, including rockabilly pioneers Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Sun Studio founder Sam Phillips guided many rock and blues artists to the Grammy Hall of Fame.
After the studio was sold to a new owner, more breakout artists like U2 and Def Leppard came to record there in the eighties. Today, the studio still records for many talented artists and shows no signs of stopping.
Photo by Jeremy Atherton
Hans Zimmer’s studio aka his secret lair
Hans Zimmer’s catalog of breathtaking scores is pretty impressive, from his more recent works with Christopher Nolan (“Inception”, “The Dark Knight”, “Interstellar”) to the 1994 classic “The Lion King” (for which he won the Oscar for best original score). His studio, or “secret lair” as it’s commonly referred to nowadays, is dark and richly decorated with stunning light fixtures, plush velvet chairs, and intricate wall papers. His unique and original film scores are mirrored in his one-of-a-kind studio space, and clearly, it inspires creativity and inventiveness.
Photo courtesy of Trey Ratcliff & Stuck in Customs