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Sunday, 23 October 2011

St Annes Court: Trident Studios.

Late August, 1968. Tiring of the shitty vibes, El Schnoz has walked out on sessions for the new album, opting instead for Sardinia. The remaining three decide to plough on, and are "photoed" by fannage entering St Annes Court, home of Trident Studios, to begin work on Dear Prudence.
Here's John back then (looking, in the following photos, decidedly Rabbi Saul-like), probably carrying lyrics and notes for his new song (or not), together with the obligatory nows:

Interesting (or not) to see how the buildings, though remodelled and renovated, retain echoes of earlier incarnations:

Paul is also captured (not literally) at some point on St Annes Court, heading for "drummal" duties on Prudence - hard to say exactly where, but a comparison of the brickwork (my speaking voice in no way resembles E.L.Wisty's) leads me to suspect that this is virtually the same spot as the John pic:

If so, this bit now completely different:

...which should come as no surprise. St Annes Court, in common with everything else on this blog, has been subject to a huge amount of reconstruction over the years. Take the following example: facing in the opposite direction from the above shots, we see John just outside Trident, engaging with fannage. Compare the same spot 10 years earlier in 1958:

The above black and white pic is precisely how the street would have appeared to the Beatles back then. And now?:

Trident (or the location thereof) is marked by the arrows, but everything on the right hand side has been demolished, including, sadly, the elegant St Annes Buildings, one wall of which formed part of Flaxman Court, directly opposite the studio's front door. Paul was also pictured here with a selection of his girlfriends that month. I jest:

Irritatingly, the girls get in the way of seeing what the exterior of Trident looked like back then. These days it has distinctive metal"werk", as seen above, but possibly not back then. Luckily, however, the following lucky snap (of Paul leaving post-Prudence session) gives a lucky glimpse of the lucky entrance area in unlucky 1968: again, ye must compare with the noo - no more "shit brown" decor, and a bit of remodelling seems to have occurred, but it's fundamentally the same space:

Here's a panoramic shot as it is now. The door on the right leads to an office, and then to what was the Studio 1 Control Room. To the left of that is the lift. The stairs down lead to what used to be Studio 1 itself, and the stairs up in days of yore would have taken you to Studio 2, tape rooms etc.:

But what of this fabled Studio 1 Control Room, I hear you mutter. The next photo shows how it was laid out when Hey Jude and the four White Album tracks recorded here were "done": the console faced the entrance wall, and wood strip wall furniture was much in evidence. Again, compare with the contemporary view:

When Trident upgraded the console in the early '70's, it was installed facing in the opposite direction. Note the big window, which looked down on Studio 1 below. These days, the window is covered from behind, because there are now three studios down there with low ceilings, and thus the view wouldn't be up to much:

Back then, however, it was rather different. This famous photo of Paul, George and brass players mid-Honey Pie taken from the Control Room window. The arrow, thrillingly, points to a vent of note (one of a pair), which, if you can remain conscious long enough, I shall return to presently:

This 'un is, apparently, Paul recording the vocal for the lovely Martha My Dear, looking up at our by-now-old-friend the Studio 1 Control Room window for thumbs-up-or-downage:

But what now remains of this hallowed space? It survives, though, as mentioned previously, there are three small studios occupying the area. Trident specialises in voice-over work for film and TV these days, and doesn't record music anymore.
However, there are a trio of remnants. Remember the by-now-our-old-friend-one-of-a-pair vent? Well, it's gone. But the other one is still there! And the entrance is in the same place too:

The third, thrillingly, is the door to the toilet, which now doesn't lead to a toilet, but remains in-situ nevertheless. This, o' course, was the very one El Schnoz appeared from in the nick of time to add his "drummal" to Hey Jude:

Finally, the old studio from the other angle; that far wall corresponds to one of the new rooms:

And that's it. There are other photos of les Fabs in and around Trident, but none of them show anything much of the building itself (apart from one of John and Yoko in the tape room on the third floor - I didn't get in there, as it's now part of another business).
Apparently the current owner gets various folk from Trident's golden age turning up from time to time for a nostalgic rummage, including David "Dave" Bowie, Roger May and Brian Taylor of the Queens, and even our very own Sir Paul "McCartney" Macca. You too can join them (not literally), as if the studio isn't busy and more than 4 people feel so inclined, then there is a tour every Thursday evening. White Album freaks (and I assume ye, like me, qualify) should take advantage before it's all gone for good.
Many thanks to Julian Carr.


  1. Sterling detective work once more. (Are you out of red circles?) Lennon looking exceptionally cool that August evening... Great drums on 'Dear Prudence'-- I wonder if it was Ritchie's kit they used and taped, or would that have been set up back at EMI? All these questions and more.

  2. what a fab investigation! i went to trident several times but can't remember the place (i'm talking about outside, of course!). the girl with short hair beside john on the photos is my new yorker friend helaine, and her friend on the last photo where john is holding a coat hanger is judy. (they are the only fans that found out john and paul were in central park and took those amazing photos - some of which have leaked on the internet over the years).

  3. Amazing photos of John and Paul in Central Park? Only photos I know of with John and Paul in Central Park are the ones with Ringo from 1964. Are you saying there are pics of them mid-70s in Central Park? If so, that would indeed be amazing. And if so, where might we see them?

  4. No, 1968, when they went over to announce Apple. You can see one of them by using the tag cloud on the right.

  5. i believe it was may 1968. they have one of john and paul and half of helaine sitting on a bench, one of them with magic alex (and neil?) by a statue, one of paul alone, one of john alone, one of paul with neil and another guy - i think that's it. they lost their original negatives and didn't have good prints, but i did, so i scanned them in high res and sent them a cd. sometimes my organization pays off!

  6. Great work yet again!! Love the shots and the detective work. You must've been in there ages scoping it out!

  7. The Trident air vent(s)/aircon was switched off during recording.
    However the ever inventive Roy Baker made use of it for the intro of Queen's 'Ogre Battle'.
    This kept to their classic promise of 'Np Synthesisers'
    Baz (former tech)