There’s no question that the music industry is in trouble, and record labels are doing everything they can to try to stay afloat and figure out how to do business in the new media world. Despite the financial troubles of some of those institutions, you would think that certain places would be protected by history. But there was a scare last week when a rumor floated around that EMI was thinking about selling Abbey Road Studios, made legendary by the Beatles for their 1969 album Abbey Road and the site of the recording of legendary albums like Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and Radiohead’s The Bends.
But though composer Andrew Lloyd Webber was floated as a potential buyer, EMI announced that they were not planning on selling the place. “We believe that Abbey Road should remain in EMI’s ownership,” the company said in a statement.
That’s good news for people — especially hardcore Beatles fans — who feel an attachment to the history of the place. Not only did famous people cut records that, but a number of modern bits of studio trickery were developed at Abbey Road. Plus, it’s got that great, iconic crosswalk out front. That combination of criteria makes it one of the more legendary places in the music world (just like the rest of these).
The Capitol Records Building
The tower that houses Capitol Records is one of the most recognizable entries in the Los Angeles skyline. Built in 1955, it was the world’s first circular office building and still houses the label. It also contains Capitol Studios, which are below street level and feature an echo chamber calibrated by the late, great Les Paul.
Electric Lady Studios
Located in an unassuming block in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, the famous recording studio has been the home of a number of iconic rockers since it opened in 1970. Initially commissioned by Jimi Hendrix (who named it after his third album), the studio has facilitated the recording of a number of great albums (many of which came from iconic New York artists, like Patti Smith’s Horses and Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby). Hendrix barely got to use the place (he died less than a month after it opened), but his specter remains, and the vibe of the place maintains the late guitarist’s very particular brand of cool.
Made famous by legendary San Francisco concert promoter Bill Graham, the Fillmore represented the top-tier rock venue for any tour act in the ’60s, ’70s and beyond. The Grateful Dead seemed to live there, and massive British bands like Led Zeppelin and the Who delivered iconic concerts within its walls. Though it has had a spotty history (it became a private club in 1971 only to become a venue again in the mid-1980s, then the building was closed again due to earthquake damage in 1989 but re-opened in 1994), it is still a big, meaningful space where bands go for huge concerts.
There has never been a more important, influential American record label than Motown Records, and the original headquarters has been preserved in Detroit (where Berry Gordy bought the building in 1959). In addition to the label offices, the home also housed the original Motown Studios, where Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Jackson 5 all laid down big hits. Gordy moved his operation to Los Angeles in 1971, but the building still stands as the Motown Historical Society.
Elvis Presley’s home remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in America, and it’s easy to see why. Not only does it pay homage to one of the greatest rock and roll stars of all time, but it also is a magnificent (and slightly absurd) piece of American architecture. Plus, it’s got a killer gift shop.
The Rose Bowl
Sure, it’s primarily a sports venue, but it’s perhaps the last frontier among stadium bands in the United States. Only one group has ever filled the bowl to capacity (that would be U2, who did it just last year), but plenty of famous groups have invaded the Rose Bowl for high-level shows, from Depeche Mode to Pink Floyd.
What’s your favorite wonder of the musical world? Leave your thoughts in the comments!