Great Britain's heritage protection agency, The National Trust, says it may buy and preserve the Abbey Road studios, the Beatles' recording home. The proposal follows an outpouring of concern over its possible demolition.
And now two more potential buyers have emerged: Andrew Lloyd Webber and his longtime lyricist, Tim Rice. In apparently unrelated statements to the British news media, each expressed an interest in purchasing the Abbey Road studios.
Word that cash-strapped record company EMI is putting the studio building up for sale has been greeted by a wave of concern about over its possible demolition. EMI has not confirmed the report.
"It's not often that the public spontaneously suggests that we should acquire a famous building," Trust spokesman John Hewitt said. "However, Abbey Road recording studios appear to be very dear to the nation's heart."The campaign to save the Abbey Road studios — which could be sold and turned into upscale housing in the St. John's Wood neighborhood in North London — was spurred by former Beatle Paul McCartney and prominent disc jockey Chris Evans.
McCartney, who owns a house near the studios, said he would be delighted if the building could be saved. He said some people long associated with the studio are considering an effort to preserve it.
McCartney did not, however, offer to put up the cash himself — the studios are thought to be worth between $16 million and $50 million.
The National Trust already owns the boyhood homes of McCartney and his songwriting partner, John Lennon, which have become major tourist attractions in Liverpool.
Abbey Road has become an important part of Beatles lore, in part because of the 1969 album named after the recording studio. The crosswalk in front of the building was immortalized on the album cover, and many fans visit the site each year.
Since The Beatles' heyday, Abbey Road has been one of the world's most famous rock music studios, used by artists like Pink Floyd, McCartney, George Harrison, Jeff Beck, Radiohead and others.
But EMI has been unable to find a buyer for the studio, in part because recording technology now permits many artists to record their own sessions at home using personal computers.