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When These Doors Opened, the World Rocked

Published on: 6 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 9 Mar, 2021

Going, going… gone! For £17,500

Doors from Abbey Road studio, near-holy birthplace of head-jamming rock and pop worshipped by untold millions of fans all over the planet, have been sold at auction by Ewbanks in Ripley, going to a US-based private collector for £17,500, four times the estimate.

A spokesman said: “We had to start at £12k due to computing advanced bids, then a further two bids live online taking us to the £14.5k hammer price. Bidding came from all over the world as well as the US and UK.”

If those brass-hinged foyer doors could only speak, think of the tales they could tell of the talented hands that have pushed them open time after time for nearly 60 years, spanning generations.

The entrance to Abbey Road Studios. Through that portal…

Through that portal of pleasure stepped artistes from the Beatles to Pink Floyd, to Elton John and Michael Jackson heading for the sound stages, recording suites and lasting fame.

This was the Sixties setting for The Beatles’ recordings with the “fifth Beatle”, producer George Martin. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, considered the most important album in the history of rock and pop, The White Album and Abbey Road were all created here. In fact, The Beatles recorded about 90 per cent of all their material at the studios between 1962 and 1970.

A Hard Day’s Night and the White Album among the Beatles’ collection recorded at Abbey Road

Further back in history, the doors would have first welcomed Sir Edward Elgar when he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and the teenage Yehudi Menuhin to crown the opening of the EMI Recording Studios there in 1931.

The doors were in place until 1988 when they were removed as part of a major refurbishment.

Sir Edward Elgar. A blue plaque by the door (see above) commemorates his time at the studio.

And like many historical relics, thereby hangs a ghostly tale. Recording engineer Ken Townsend, Abbey Road manager from 1950 to 1995, worked on several Beatles albums, including Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He also invented the artificial double tracking (ADT) system usef for phasing on Beatles records.

He provided a letter of authenticity to go with the doors, confirming that anyone who recorded at the studios would have passed through them.

He added a note explaining that at one point the doors were converted with glass panels for a very unusual reason.

“The glass panels are not original as they were changed in the Sixties due to one of two reasons,” he wrote. “The most likely was that they did not meet the standard required by the fire regulations, but the other was more improbable.

“The night security staff who at the time were Smythe and Blyth complained that in the early hours the Abbey Road ghost came down the corridor and the door would swing open andthis white-dressed lady would go past them. By replacing the old frosted-glass gave them [sic] advance notice to make a hasty exit.”

An EMI executive got the doors after the 1988 revamp and they have remained in private ownership since. They measure approximately 78cm x 200cm and the estimate was £2,000-£4,000.

“It’s an honour to be able to offer this unique pair of doors as part of the 90th anniversary celebrations for the unsurpassed Abbey Road studios,” said Ewbank’s specialist Alastair McCrea.

“The hands that have touched them over the years are the same hands that wrote and performed many of the best-loved rock and pop standards in history.”

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