Abbey Road Pedestrian Crossing

Music Abbey Road The Beatles (album - 1969)
The year 1969 was decisive in the history of contemporary music for many reasons. The year of Woodstock and Altamont, but also the year of the release of the monumental Abbey Road, the Beatles' eleventh album. A band then at the top of its art and yet on the verge of breaking up.
Abbey Road London
Abbey Road London - Photo credit: Fantrippers

“The Beatles saved the world from boredom.”

George Harrison, guitarist and singer of the Beatles.

As the 1960s drew to a close, the Beatles were in a kind of stalemate. Exhausted by the difficult Let It Be sessions, the band nevertheless agreed to return to Abbey Road studios to record an album “old-fashioned”. The idea came from Paul McCartney and all the others agreed to follow him one last time. The legendary Abbey Road producer George Martin, to whom the four musicians owe a great deal, was also willing to go back to basics and was accompanied by Alan Parsons. Even Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer whose career is also associated with the Beatles, agrees and returns to the game. The objective of the project is clearly stated: to put the tensions aside to try to find the magic of the beginnings and thus give the combo a chance to finish on something great. George Harrison later said,“We didn’t know, or at least I didn’t know, that we were about to make the last Beatles record, but we all felt in some way that we had reached the end of the road.”

When the sessions start, the atmosphere is cordial but not nearly as good as it was in the beginning. There were no notable arguments during the time the musicians were working. This is progress, but it should be noted that it is rare for all of them to be in the same place at the same time. Most of the time, Paul McCartney is alone or accompanied by George Harrison or Ringo Starr. Sometimes they work as a duo or trio. Nevertheless, some songs “force” the Fab Four to get together, like Come Together. George Martin states in this regard: “If one Beatle is there, that’s good. Two Beatles is great. Three Beatles is fantastic. But when the four of them get together, that’s when something unexplainable happens. A magic that nobody can explain.” The album is also marked by technical innovations. As always since they gave up touring to devote themselves to studio work, the Liverpuldians try to push their own limits. This is also what is now expected of them. On Abbey Road, the band took advantage of an 8-track recorder for the first time. George Harrison also plays a new instrument, a Moog synthesizer, specially designed by Robert Moog, its creator.

Concerning the cover, it is at first question to call the record <i>Everest</i> and thus to photograph the artists in front of the immense mountain. But this idea is finally put aside because no one wants to travel all the way to the Himalayas just to take a picture. The Beatles therefore opted for simplicity. The album will be called Abbey Road, after the name of the studios where they built their legend. For the cover, Paul McCartney had an idea that was as effective as it was inexpensive. The musicians asked Iain MacMillian to take care of the photography. On August 8, 1969, the group gathered on the sidewalk in front of the studios. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon are dressed in suits and George Harrison in a denim ensemble. A police officer blocks traffic. The Beatles cross the street at the pedestrian crossing in front of Iain MacMillian’s lens. In just ten minutes, the matter is settled. Once on the other side of the street, the group makes another pass. To select the final shot, the photographer opted for the only one where the legs of all the Beatles form a perfect V. In the background, Paul Cole, an American tourist, attends the session and observes the musicians, whom he does not know, with an amused eye. Paul McCartney’s bare feet make him think they’re a little crazy. A year later, back home, Paul Cole is seen on the cover of the record as his wife tries to play the melody of Something on the organ.

The Volkswagen Beetle is now on display in a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany. The vehicle is at the center of one of the strangest rock legends. As soon as the album was released, rumours of Paul McCartney’s supposed death began to circulate. The Beatle is said to have been killed in a road accident in November 1966. A look-alike would have been hired. To fuel this crazy theory, his supporters claimed that the fact that he was barefoot on the cover was a blatant clue. After all, the Beatles are closely linked to India and in this country, the dead are barefoot. Another clue: the Volkswagen’s license plate reads LMW 28 IF, which, for conspiracy theorists, is Living-McCartney-Would be 28 IF. The fact that in the photo he is holding his cigarette with his right hand, even though he is left-handed, is convincing. The rumour has amused the main person concerned. And if he was alive and well at the time of the release of Abbey Road, the band would soon put a definitive end to its glorious adventure.

30 000 000

Abbey Road has sold30 million copies. It is the second biggest success of the group behind Sgt. Pepper.

Abbey Road crossing

They are the most famous recording studios in the world. An institution that benefited greatly from the fame of the Beatles, whose Abbey Road album cover also gave unexpected exposure to a simple crosswalk.

Fans come by the hundreds every week to replicate the famous Abbey Road album cover on the pedestrian walkway in front of the entrance to the legendary studios. A sanctuary intimately linked to the career of the Fab Four, having also hosted top artists such as Artur Schnabel, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Pink Floyd, Kanye West, Green Day, The Killers, U2 or Lady Gaga. It is also where the original soundtrack of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was recorded by Howard Shore.

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Cult! music: 100 mythical music places [French Edition]

Embark immediately on an exhilarating world tour with some of music’s most iconic bands and artists!

Head to Melbourne, Australia for a stroll along AC/DC Lane before crossing the iconic Abbey Road pedestrian crossing in the company of The Beatles. Visit Janis Joplin‘s home in San Francisco and find out how Johnny Cash ended up playing his greatest hits to a crowd of prisoners in San Quentin. Travel the winding roads of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and stop in Japan to catch up with Deep Purple, Phil Collins and Daft Punk. Drive down the Tina Turner Highway before entering some of the most legendary studios in music history. Go back to the troubled origins of Billie Holiday and make a pact with Robert Johnson at the famous crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Embark immediately on an exhilarating world tour with some of music’s most iconic bands and artists! Relive the Jimi Hendrix concert on the Isle of Wight before paying tribute to Bob Marley in Jamaica.

Produced by a team of pop-culture specialists and enhanced by numerous anecdotes, Cult! musictells the secrets of the places that made the history of music.

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By Gilles Rolland

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.

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