Abbey Road Reprieve

EMI has said it is not considering selling London’s Abbey Road studios but is working with third parties about funding a “revitalisation project.”

Earlier newspaper headlines suggested EMI was flogging the crown jewels when the cash-strapped major music company put Abbey Road up for sale. But the studios made famous by The Beatles may have won a reprieve courtesy of English Heritage and The National Trust.

English Heritage, the organisation that protects and promotes “England’s spectacular historic environment,” called on the government to make the studios a grade 2-listed building.

It cited the advice it provided in 2003, pointing out that listing the building is not “a tool to frustrate change or even a possible sale” but it will mean that any decisions affecting the building’s future would need to be considered very carefully.

The National Trust was reportedly exploring the possibility of buying the studios, as news of the building coming on to the market was treated as a national disaster.

The site occupies prime space in one of the most expensive parts of London and is likely to be far more valuable than the studios themselves, which prompted fears the building might be leveled to make way for new development.

There’s still a Facebook campaign where visitors can sign a petition to “save Abbey Road Studios from property developers” and convince EMI to reconsider the sale of this “important historical institution” and preserve for generations to come this “bastion of recording excellence.”

Business analysts regarded the move as a sign of EMI’s growing desperation, with some predicting the studio business could be shut down unless a benefactor can be found.

Brian Southall, who has written histories of both Abbey Road and EMI, says he didn’t know of anyone who would want to buy it as a going concern.

“It would be quite an expensive piece of real estate in St John’s Wood if you could tear it down and build houses. But it would be a sad day if Abbey Road closed down. It’s a huge place in rock and roll history,” he told The Times.

EMI, which was reportedly in talks with as many as six interested bidders, says last year it rejected an offer for the historic building.

It released a statement Feb. 21 saying it’s still looking for an investor in the site but is no longer looking for a buyer.

The company bought the studios in St John’s Wood for £100,000 in 1929. The EMI Recording Studio at Abbey Road was opened in 1931 by Sir Edward Elgar recording “Land of Hope and Glory.”

Terra Firma bought EMI in 2007 for £4.2 billion, saddling the music business with more than £2.6 billion of debt. EMI lost £1.75 billion last year.