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Saturday, 11 September 2010

3 Savile Row: 1976 and all that.

Apple finally got rid of its lease on 3 Savile Row in October, 1976. The above pic, from that year, illustrates the by-then pitiful condition of the building: "OUT" indeed. Still the old Apple front door hung on, as seen to the rear of Ringo's Rotogravure:

Apparently, the door now resides in storage, having been salvaged by Neil Aspinall for what remained of Apple the company, before the lease was sold on Apple the building (though I've also heard a rumour that John had it shipped over to the Dakota). At any rate, as the door, so the building: the windows smashed, the exterior dirt-smeared... the place was "fooked", within and without. In bits, too, the fabled home of Apple Scruffs a.k.a. the steps (probably damaged by workmen lugging their smashing machinery in and out, or else chipped away at by naughty memento-seeking fans). The Scruffs actually appeared much more together than Apple (or the steps) by the end, having membership cards, a magazine, and even stationery, as the following sheet, plucked from the teetering pile of Beatles crud that threatens to overwhelm my bedroom, shows:

Plans from the early 70s suggest that 3 Savile Row had undergone conversion from an office to a production suite (and been gutted in the process - see posts passim). At least, so say the plans - I'm not sure the work was ever actually completed. Anyway, another shot from '76: a reasonable guess is that this one is post-lease, as work appears to have begun to tidy the place up again:

The basement door to the Apple studio was still in place at that point:

Nowadays, as these contemporary pics show, there is nothing left down there from the Apple era; numerous renovations have seen the lot replaced:

Finally, a shot from a few years back, with the building looking much more spruce, but temporarily semi-detached due to the demolition of its neighbour to the left:

Many thanks to Guus Limberger for the first '76 pic, Wim de Lang for the other two '76 pics, and to Christopher Bourke for the more recent shot.


  1. Love the Apple Scruffs business card! Never seen one of those before. It's surprising how unkempt number 3 was allowed to become - did Apple move out some time before the pics were taken, or would they have been resident when it was in this pitiful condition?

  2. It's actually a sheet of writing paper. I guess they were receiving correspondence c/o the steps!
    I have a copy of some plans, dated July 1972, outlining the conversion of 3 Savile Row from offices to a production suite. For example, the ground floor would have housed such delights as a "quadrophonic cutting room" etc. John & Yoko's office was to be designated a "tea lounge and waiting room".
    Although the basement studio struggled on as a going concern, I'm not at all sure any of this other work was ever completed. I think they took the back off the building, and realised the whole place was in danger of becoming structurally unsound. The interior was gutted, and then left to rot, before the lease was eventually sold. Which, as I've said before, was a gift of a metaphor for anyone writing about the demise of Apple Mark I.

  3. PS Re the writing paper - I see why you thought it was a business card. However, that's actually three images I comped together - a close up of the steps, the Scruffs' writing paper on the right, and then a close-up of the address on the stationery along the bottom.

  4. Surprising that somewhere in central London like that could be allowed to deteriorate into such a shocking rundown dive. I bet the tailors weren't happy. [Suit you Sir, ooh! etc]

  5. Probably not; but London in the mid-late '70s was a much grubbier place than now. Having said that, I am also quite surprised that they were allowed to wreck 3 Savile Row.

  6. I signed the door in 1976. I just got back from the UK. The door is in the British Music Experience in Liverpool. I saw it for the first time in 42 years. The museum said they got it out of storage when they opened a year ago. Thanks to Neil and anyone else who preserved it. I have photos if anyone is interested

  7. I signed the door in 1976. Did again in 1977. The clean photos posted are from 1977 as that is when the door was removed. It is now on display at the British Music Experience in Liverpool after being in storage until they opened last year. I just got back to the states from a UK holiday and saw it for the first time in 40 years. Awesome. I have photos then and now.