From Outside, In: Discovering the EMI Archive at Hayes – part 1

 

SOTH is delighted to welcome our latest contributor Brian Kehew who join’s our ever growing list of esteemed contributors.   Brian is a LA based musician and music producer. He is a member of The Moog Cookbook and co-author of the Recording The Beatles book, an in-depth look at the Beatles’ studio approach. Kehew is also currently the Archives Historian for the Bob Moog Foundation.  Enjoy!!

By Brian Kehew

Kevin Ryan and I spent about 15 years researching how the Beatles made their records – the technical and procedural side of things. Even with Abbey Road studios still in existence, the records and information there were incredible, but limited. We canvassed the rest of the world, seeking out anything that might illuminate the picture of that 1962-70 era. In our travels, we sometimes came across mention of “Hayes” or “CRL”, as in “They took that down to Hayes”, or “That was done at Hayes/CRL”. Both terms came up enough that we realised this Hayes-thing must be something to uncover. Whether it was a building, a town, or a company – we didn’t know at first.

Eventually, the concept became clearer, and quite a promising treasure itself. Hayes was indeed a town, an industrial suburb West of London. At the time we learned of it, Hayes was simply the location of what was called The EMI Archive – a group of buildings housing EMI’s own company history in a well-protected archive. The famous studios at Abbey Road had long connected with “Hayes”, or rather – the other way around: Abbey Road Studios was originally just a small subset of the gigantic EMI company, most of which was based in Hayes. Hayes was literally a small city of EMI holdings and development. There were many buildings, offices, plants, testing areas, factories, and more. The research lab there (CRL – Central Research Laboratories) was a ‘research and development” wing of EMI; CRL designed everything from microphones to radar, medical CAT-scan machines, guided missiles, computers, television apparatus, and some things not-so-ponderous: the classic home furniture cabinet (then called “radiograms”) containing turntable, radio, amplifier, and speaker that were found in almost every family’s main room. With EMI’s genesis and focus being recorded sound, the area was home to some of the world’s most innovative and influential audio work. (This spilled over, of course, into EMI’s worldwide studios, including the now-famous address at 3 Abbey Road…)

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