Trident Studios at 17 St. Anne's Court
Trident Studios is one of the places in London which it's history most linked to the existence of the Marquee club, especially during the late 60's and 70's. Just a few blocks off the Marquee club, Trident Studios is located at Soho's 17 St. Anne's Court, which is the next perpendicular street from the old Marquee club in Wardour Street. The door of the studios faces a narrow pedestrian alley that connects straight with Richmond Mews where the club's back door and the Marquee recording studios used to be. This way, Trident studios was located in the very heart of Soho's music scene, just a few numbers off the Ship pub were all the musicians would go for a pint and was also close to La Chasse club were everyone in the music business would meet.
Trident Studios was opened in 1967 by brothers Norman and Barry Sheffield, who were also used to be managers for the band Queen at the time. During the late 60's, Trident Studios became one of the most complete offers for sound recording services in the city since they were the first studios in the UK to feature Dolby sound technology and a 8-track mixing desk while most of the studios were still working with only 4 channels.
This attracted soon the eminence of artists such as the Beatles, who first visited the studio in July 1968 for the recording of "Hey Jude". This happened to be the first 8-track song ever recorded by the band. The Beatles returned to Trident later in August 1968 for the recording of "Dear Prudence", in October 1968 for "Honey Pie" and "Martha My Dear", and finally, in February 1969 for the recording of "I Want You". All of these sessions were engineered by Barry Sheffield. Another plus about Trident was the handmade Beckstein piano, which was over 100 years old and became a significant part of the studio's history and now is coined in numerous legendary recordings.
Other artists who were sent from Apple Records to Trident, considering the limitation of the EMI studios at the time, were Harry Nilsson, Billy Preson, Mary Hopkins and James Taylor, as well as the four members of the Beatles for their solo projects. Apparently, it was during these days that Paul McCartney decided to support a new promising band called Queen by letting them use the booked hours at the studio that he was intentionally not using.
In March 1968 Manfred Mann recorded the very first major hit at the studio, the single "My Name's Jack", launching Trident as a top professional studio. During the early 70's, some of the most reputed artists used the studios for their recordings, including Elton John, Marc Bolan, Carly Simon, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck.
This period coincided with the incorporation of a young engineer called Ken Scott, who would become one of the most reputed engineers and producers in the history of rock music with his involvement in David Bowie's albums "Hunky Dory" (1971) and "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust" (1972). Scott later gained an international reputation with numerous works, including Supertramp's "Crime of the Century" (1974), Lou Reed's Transformer (1972), Devo's "Duty Now For The Future" (1980) and Jeff Beck's "There and Back" (1980).
Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma Records was also one of the most regular clients of the studios during the 70's. Genesis recorded at Trident several of their most renowned albums there, including "Trespass” (1970), “Nursery Cryme” (1971) and “A Trick Of The Tale” (1976). Other artists from the label who recorded at Trident were Van Der Graaf Generator, Peter Hammill and Lindisfarne and Peter Gabriel.
Peter Gabriel at Trident, 1978
The history of the Sheffield brothers and Trident studios is also linked to the early days of Queen despite their turbulent professional relationship which ended up with acrimony. The Sheffield brothers did an agreement with the band to get their albums recorded only during the studio's downtime, which usually was between 3 am and 7 am. This turned the process of the recordings into a painful and long experience and, to add more fuel to the fire, after the album was completed the Sheffield brothers failed to find a record company to get it released. Finally, eight months later the brothers released the album themselves under the Trident label. The same story repeated again with the release of the band's second album, which was delayed for several months and it was solely issued in UK. This caused the split between Queen and the Sheffield brothers and in 1973 the band signed to EMI Records. In 1975, Queen's album "A Night At The Opera" included the song "Death On Two Legs", which Norman Sheffield took as a personal attack against him and caused him to try suing Queen and EMI Records. Apparently EMI settled the situation with the ex-managers out of court.
In December 1981 Trident studios was sold. During the early 80's the studio went through different changes and worked under different names until 1985, when Tape One took over. Tape One closed in March 1990 and later in 1993 The Sound Studio (also known as Trident) took over the place, which is the current working studios today, specializing their services to the fields of TV and film industries. This was followed by new changes at the studio. The basement area which used to be the main studio is now occupied by Control Room One and Studio One and much of the original ground floor was knocked out to give a double height studio. The original control room is now the Control Room Two.
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If you worked at Trident Studios and you'd like to contribute to the site with your memories, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.