top of page


Barry Ryan session3.jpeg

My first proper freelance recording session was at Lansdowne studios in 1971. I couldn’t possibly have met a more friendly bunch of musicians on that first date: drummer Clem Cattini, percussionist Ray Cooper, guitarist Ray Fenwick, and pianist Mike Moran. These wonderful players soon put me at ease with their daft humour and I remember thinking: ‘I’ve come home’. It was as if I had spent the whole of my life waiting to meet those people, in that building.

Since that fateful day, a vast chunk of my professional life has been involved with working in and around recording studios —both as a player and as a producer — working with many of the musicians who were key players in the three decades of studio supremacy. I am privileged that many of these exceptional artists are now my friends.

There was a period from the early 70s to the mid 80s when it was possible to work in the studio almost every day – and very often all day. It was a time when working in the studio became a way of life for the most sought-after musicians. There is nothing more satisfying than playing together in a room, making the best music, with the finest players. The results are astounding.

Many of the same faces would be present on every session, allowing for the spontaneous evolution of small teams of players. Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones met in this way and went on to form Led Zeppelin. Alan Parker, Herbie Flowers, and Barry Morgan coalesced into Blue Mink. And, as a result of playing together on countless recording sessions for other artists, Ray Russell, Simon Phillips, and I teamed up as a recording and performing unit.

This period also saw the rise of the residential studios, where there was no restriction on studio time, no problem parking, and no late night drive home. The communal evening meal around a big oak table was something to look forward to.
(Read extract from British Rock Guitar)

But, during the 90s, as the market slowly evolved, the studios began to disappear one by one. This change in circumstance in turn forced the session musicians to diversify, becoming composers, producers, teachers, and West End theatre players.

Whilst the reasons for studio closure are numerous, it is clear that dwindling record company budgets — and the rise in use of Logic Pro and Pro-Tools equipped home studios — made many professional studios uneconomic to run. In addition any studio that did not generate its own projects was doomed.

Sadly this change in the market has resulted in the loss of an invaluable resource: acoustically perfect rooms that could accommodate up to 100 musicians.

Frustratingly Lansdowne had to close after 49 years of continual use. Chipping Norton, Olympic, CTS Wembley, and The Manor closed for business reasons. Polar in Stockholm is now a block of apartments. Caribou Ranch in Colorado burnt down. And — perhaps most sadly — Air Montserrat was buried under ash from the island's volcano.

On a happier note Abbey Road is still working, and there are no immediate plans to sell it (it was granted English Heritage Grade II listed status in 2010).

bottom of page