Beatles producer George Martin was one of the first indie music producers, and after having many hits outside of the Fab 4, set up his own personal studio in the Carribean island paradise of Montserrat. When Sir George wasn’t using AIR Montserrat himself, the studio was leased out to a who’s who of 1970/80s music royalty, including The Police, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Dire Straits, Phil Collins, Black Sabbath, Lou Reed, Eric Clapton and Duran Duran.
AIR Montserrat was opened in 1979 after Sir George fell in love with the island while on a vacation there, and was an immediate hit. Who doesn’t love a Carribean island, after all? The problem is that these islands are right in the middle of hurricane alley and built on volcanic outcroppings, and AIR Montserrat ultimately suffered from both.
Hurricane Hugo devastated the island in 1989 and tore the roof off the building, causing this once idyllic recording sanctuary to close forever. That may have been fortuitous however, since just a few years later the Soufrière Hills volcano on the island erupted, and in the midst of lava flow and falling ash, caused the island to be evacuated. Today only half the island is currently inhabited.
The ruins of the studio are currently forbidden territory, but a few pictures were recently snapped anyway. It’s a sad state for a once-proud icon of recording to be, but the music recorded there lives on. Check out this great article in the Daily Mail for a lot more pictures, and this video below.[graphic: Shane Thoms]