Friday, February 26, 2010

Saving Abbey Road Studios

Thankfully, it looks as if the recent decision to give Abbey Road a 'Grade 2 Listed' status means that the threat to the building from redevelopment has been lifted - at least temporarily.

However it still leaves us with the wider debate on how we protect and preserve our other rock-related heritage.

It is the so-called 'establishment' who determine the tourism and cultural policy of this country, as much as individual companies like EMI, owners of Abbey Road, who do not apparently realise the importance of rock'n'roll to this country's economy. At a time when every other British industry seems to be in long-term decline our music heritage should be protected and not sold off for probable property redevelopment.

Abbey Road Studio is just one iconic site that is either under threat or has already been lost. Westminster councillors were seriously debating whether to move the crossing! Elsewhere in the city, we have lost the Astoria, and Marquee, famous record company offices and studios such as Polydor and De Lane, John and Yoko's flat at Emperor's Gate and the birthplace of Pink Floyd in Nottinghill Gate. And not to mention the scores of clubs and boutiques around Chelsea and Soho. In Ealing, the site of the Ealing Blues Club lies abandoned and drinkers in Edwards, Richmond, would not have a clue that they were sitting in the original Crawdaddy, where the Rolling Stones gave their first performances. Lennon, it seems, does not even deserve a blue plaque.

When it comes to a choice between 'high' and 'low' culture, it is the former that wins. London's Handel House Museum, for example, has no plans to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendix's death later this year even though the property was once owned amd lived in by the near legendary guitarist.

In Manchester, probably the UK's greatest rock city, a block of flats stands where the famed Hacienda once gave birth to 'Madchester'. The tourism department resolutely ignores protecting or promoting sites connected with bands that include from Herman's Hermits, The Hollies, Bee Gees, The Smiths and Oasis.

Yet, the tourists arrive in droves seeking out the landmarks. We carried over 4500 customers, from 55 different countries (including Outer Mongolia!) on our Legends of Rock London tour.

It is the same throughout the country. Rock'n'roll is here to stay. For many tourists coming here it is a case of 'Never Mind The Palaces! We want a rock tour'! Preserving our popular music culture will pay as many dividends in years to come as castles, gardens and palaces pay now.

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