The Beatles At Abbey Road Studios Presentation 1983

Abbey Road Studios Ticket

In 1983, for the first and only time, the doors to Abbey Road's famous studio were opened to the public, for a tour and audio-video presentation. Fans were treated to a tour of the famous Number 2 Studio, which had remained virtually unchanged from the days of the sixties where the Beatles recorded from 1962-1969.

Starting July 11th, the doors were opened seven days a week through September 11th, with threeshows per day at 10:30 am, 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Tickets were sold for £4.50 (about $7.00 U.S.). In all, the presentation and tour was given 168 times.

After a short tour of the facility, the fans were seated in the Number 2 Studio for a ninety minute video presentation featuring rare film clips and promotional videos with previously unreleased Beatles recordings. This was the first time that EMI had ever permitted the public performance of Beatles outtakes. Free refreshments were served, and in one corner was a booth offering T-shirts, posters, stickers, road signs, postcards and other Beatles souvenirs.

Above left, mailing envelope for the tickets. Above right, the 2-inch diameter promotional sticker.

Ticket sales were handled directly by EMI and Abbey Road Studios. EMI said at the time that this was the first time that the public was invited into Abbey Road Studios, AND that it would be the last time, never to happen again.

Not too long after the July 18th opening, a fan was caught trying to make an audio recording of the show. Immediately, EMI had metal detectors installed in the hallway leading into the studio that everyone had to pass through to get inside for the presentation. In the studio, several signs were posted on the walls that stated: "Absolutely no sound recordings may be made of this presentation".

Fans being determined, and with word out from previous visitors about how great the outtakes were, three U.S. collectors managed to sneak in a compact Sony cassette player and record the entire show from start to finish, in stereo. Their story was told in an interview some years back - they had each taken with them a shopping bag filled with "tourist" items, as if they had been shopping all day. Hidden inside one bag was the Sony tape recorder. In another, the microphone and batteries,and in the third, blank tapes.

Abbey Road Studios T-Shirt

The Beatles Live At Abbey Road Studios T-Shirt that was sold exclusively at the event

The recording items were buried in the bottom of the bags, with souvenirs covering the top. Nervous about doing this, they said the twenty minute wait in line seemed like forever. They had no idea about the metal detectors inside, and almost gave up and turned back when they rounded the corner of the hallway and saw the guards and detectors. Deciding to take a chance anyway, and confident knowing the recording equipment was spread out in different bags, they headed forward....

Amazingly, when they got to the search point, the guard looked in the bags quickly, passed them AROUND the metal detector, and directed them through the detectors - sans bags(!) and then handed the bags BACK to them on the other side of the detector!!! They could not believe that they got into the Abbey Road presentation with a tape recorder! At this time, of course, they were ecstatic, as they KNEW they would soon have a recording of the entire show.

Abbey Road Studios poster

The Beatles Live At Abbey Road Studios 16-1/2-inch x 23-1/4-inch event poster

Once inside they toured the studio, enjoyed soft drinks and donuts and took several photos, including one of the "absolutely no sound recordings..." sign, which was later printed inside the gatefold LP cover. Upon being seated for the show, they all sat together and carefully pulled the parts from their bags to prepare recording. One of them sat perfectly still holding the microphone for the entire ninety minute presentation. If you listen closely to the tape at the beginning and end, you can hear the rustling of paper - people next to them were eating and putting their souvenirs into bags. The tape was reviewed in the cab on the way back to the hotel and all three fans were blown away, the recording had turned out incredible.

Upon their return to the U.S., a cover was designed and in November of 1983 the recording was issued as a double album gatefold set, The Beatles Live at Abbey Road Studios (ARS 2 9083). Eagerly received by collectors and considered a landmark album, it quickly sold out. A few months later, it was copied by another bootlegger and reissued, identical to the original except the cover artwork was blurry and the labels were blank white. In the late 1980s a Japanese CD version, Abbey Road Show was issued in excellent quality stereo (ARS83-2). A different audience tape appeared on the European bootleg, In Abbey Road (Beatles Fan Records A/B). Different mixes of many of the same performances appeared throughout the Ultra Rare Trax CD series. In the 1990s a CD version was issued by Tobe Milo Records, made from the original tape used for the LP in 1984 (shown below).

Abbey Road Studios letter
Abbey Road Studios order form

Above left, the promotional letter that was sent out to announce the remarkable event, and at right one of the order forms for obtaining tickets to the event.

Abbey Road order form

The Beatles Live At Abbey Road Studios order form (5-7/8-inches x 8-1/4-inches). The reverse side had the same image as the large event poster.

Abbey Road LP

The Beatles Live At Abbey Road Studios LP, first pressing with "Souvenir" sticker

Abbey Road CD

CD version of the Abbey Road Studios tape from Tobe Milo Records, sourced from the same master as used for the original first issue LP.

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