As big fans of both design and music, a beautiful recording studio is a sight to see. We've put together this roundup of some of our favorite studios from around the world. From world-famous rooms like Abbey Road to private studios with style to spare, we're sure you'll want to go to these studios as much as we do. So, in no particular order, our favorite music studios in the world:
Let's start with the big one. The house John, Paul, George and Ringo built: Abbey Road. First opened in 1931 by EMI, it was originally a 16-room residence. Though the first notable artist to record at the studio was Edward Elgar (famous for writing Pomp and Circumstance, the song everyone walks to at graduation), Abbey Road really made its name in the 1960's. First used by the Beatles in 1962 (and host of their performance of the first satellite-broadcast performance), the studio has continued to host world class acts and record some of the most famous recordings ever made. It's easy to see why bands like Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon), Lady Gaga (Born this Way), and Radiohead (OK Computer) have chosen Abbey Road to create their work. Even today, the top names in music flock to Abbey Road to contribute to the studios history; the series Live from Abbey Road is an excellent way to see today's artists and get a better look at this iconic studio in action.
Located right in LSTN's backyard is the iconic Capitol Records building, an LA landmark. Opening their studios in 1956, iconic artists such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and The Beach Boys first gave life to its rooms - and to this day major icons of music continue in their wake. Capitol recently fully refurbished the studios to ensure that they remain a cutting edge, state of the art facility where artisan craft can continue to thrive, as it has for the past 60 years.
The birthplace of rock n' roll. Opened in 1950, Sun Studio is able to lay claim to recording what many consider the first rock and roll recording ever: Rocket '88 by Jackie Brentson and his Delta Cats (featuring Ike Turner on keys!). In the years that followed, a who's who of early rock, blues, and R&B musicians came to Memphis to record at the famous main room - B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and of course, the King himself, Elvis. Still operating today in the original location, Sun Studio is one of the most important studios in history.
The house that Berry Gordy built - and home to the most Number One singles recorded anywhere. Any great Motown act - from Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones - they've all made masterpieces in the tiny room of Studio A. Motown was also built around the amazing house musicians of Hitsville - the Funk Brothers (which included women, too - it's just a name). The documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown goes in-depth into the music of Motown and the incredible musicians who made it possible, and it is definitely worth a watch.
Built from a converted 1850’s church in London, the studio was founded when Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox of the newly-formed Eurythmics converted the space into a brand new recording studio where they completed their debut album, 1984's Sweet Dreams. From that moment on The Church Studios was an established marker on the London recording map.The Church also went on to welcome anyone from Bob Dylan to Radiohead, Elvis Costello to Depeche Mode, and My Bloody Valentine to David Gray, the latter of whom brought the studio into a new era in 2004 when he acquired its ownership exactly 20 years after the release of Sweet Dreams. The Church stills plays host to myriad artists, and was the setting for Adele's When We Were Young video.
A former coffin factory was converted to a recording studio in 1969 when a group of musicians, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, decided to start their own operation in competition with the FAME studio owned by Rick Hall. Quickly becoming one of the hottest spots in rock,artists as diverse as The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart and Cat Stevens all cut tracks in tiny Muscle Shoals, Alabama (Population in 1970: 6,907). Some tracks recorded at MSSS include Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock ‘n Roll, Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones, and the Black Keys’ album Brothers
Built by Jimi Hendrix in 1970, Electric Lady has been home to some of the most monumental moments in rock over that time. Though Hendrix sadly only spent 4 weeks recording at ELS before his death, other artists have carried the torch since then. We can thank Electric Lady Studios for Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy (1973) and Physical Graffiti (1975), Patti Smith’s Horses (1975) The Clash’s Combat Rock (1982), Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell (1983) Weezer’s eponymous 1995 album, Santana’s Supernatural (1999), the White Stripes’ De Stijl (2000), and the Roots’ Game Theory (2006). A ton of Kiss albums have also been recorded at ELS, but you don't have to say thank you for those.
Sometimes, all it takes to build a beautiful studio is to put it in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Santorini is renowned for its amazing sunsets, pristine beaches, and clear water, making it the perfect place to create music stress-free. With its location in a converted villa (complete with accommodations), Black Rock Studio fits right in. It's not just a neat location though - some major artists have produced hits at Black Rock, including One Republic, Justin Bieber, and Joe Bonamassa.
Prince's personal studio, Paisley Park was built on the success of Purple Rain. It was the home to his short-lived record label of the same name, and was famously the center of controversy when Prince sued Warner Bros. for full control of the master tapes produced under his direction. Since Prince's passing, the complex has become a museum & memorial open to the public, and regularly hosts concerts.
We'll end this studio tour right on our own street in L.A. Though it was founded as Disney’s in-house recording studio (you can thank them for Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and countless others), Sunset Sound Recorders cemented their music legacy with good old-fashioned rock and roll. It’s where the Stones recorded Exile on Main Street, where Prince made Purple Rain, the Beach Boys crafted Pet Sounds, and home to The Doors by...The Doors.