Associated Independent Recording

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Associated Independent Recording (AIR), an independent recording company, was founded in London in 1965 by Beatles producer George Martin and his partner John Burgess after their departure from EMI. [1]

Since 1969 AIR has operated its own professional audio recording facilities.

Oxford Street[edit]

AIR's first facility was on the fourth floor of 214 Oxford Street, containing four studios, and later a MIDI programming room. The facility included two large studios (one 58×32 feet, the other 30×28 feet) and two small ones. The studios contained two Bösendorfer pianos, many soundproof booths, and a 56-channel mixing console, custom-designed by Neve to AIR's specification. During 1987 they also purchased two Fairlight CMI III models (at a cost of £35,000 each) for the burgeoning Midi Suite. They also were early adopters of then new fully Midi integrated ATARI STf for Midi control and sequencing using the grand-daddy of modern day Cubase - Steinberg's Pro 24 III. This setup was used often as a stand-in during the frequent Fairlight CMI downtimes.

AIR Montserrat[edit]

Ruins of the AIR Studio in Montserrat May, 2013

The company built another recording studio on the Caribbean island of Montserrat in the 1970s. In 1986, the facility was described as such:

"Recently refurbished control room now featuring 60 channels by SSL with automation and TR and 12 fully integrated channels by Rupert Neve of Focusrite, two 32track Mitsubishi X850 digital machines and 24track Studer A800. Digital mixing on two Mitsubishi X86. Very comprehensive ancillary equipment list."

Jimmy Buffett recorded Volcano at the Montserrat studio in May 1979, naming the album and its title song for the then dormant Soufrière Hills volcano on the island. Elton John recorded three albums at the Montserrat studio in the 1980s. In 1981 Ultravox recorded here Quartet . Dire Straits recorded their successful Brothers in Arms album between 1984 and 1985. Duran Duran recorded one of their biggest albums, Rio, during January and February 1982. Other artists such as Paul McCartney, Rush, The Police (Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity), Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Midge Ure, Little River Band, Sheena Easton, Luther Vandross, and Supertramp have also recorded albums there. The first album cut in the newly opened studios was Real to Reel by the Climax Blues Band in 1979.

The Montserrat facility was closed after being severely damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. According to George Martin,[2]

Before we came to Montserrat there was no western music to speak of on the island. Building AIR meant that many leading recording artists came to stay. It cast its spell on them as they mingled with the local people. It was and still is a unique place... After ten great years of recording there the music business had changed. The moguls running the business no longer wanted their artists miles away, outside their control. That coincided with the devastation caused by the hurricane and sadly the studios had to close. The people of Montserrat are still very proud of the work that was done at AIR Studios.

The buildings are still standing and their roofs are intact. The facility is now a modern ruin and a tourist attraction which can be visited with or without a guide.

AIR Lyndhurst Hall[edit]

In 1991 AIR Studios took over Lyndhurst Road Congregational Church, a Grade II listed building designed by Alfred Waterhouse, located in the Hampstead suburb of northern London. The space was revamped as a recording facility and opened for business in December 1992. AIR Lyndhurst is now a key London facility for classical and popular recordings, as well as film scores, television post-production, and dialogue, sound effects and music for video games.


  1. ^ Discogs - Air Studios
  2. ^ Hastie, Paul (2014-03-27). "BBC News - Why do the children of Montserrat sing about a volcano?". BBC. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 

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