Aeolian Hall (London)
Aeolian Hall, at 135–137 New Bond Street, London, began life as the Grosvenor Gallery, being built by Coutts Lindsay in 1876, an accomplished amateur artist with a predeliction for the aesthetic movement, for which he was held up to some ridicule. In 1883, he decided to light his gallery with electricity. An outhouse became a substation, and equipment was installed in the basement, which upset some of the neighbours, and caused others to buy electricity from him. Thus began the system of electrical distribution in use today, but the threat of fire ended these activities, and by 1890, Lindsay was forced to sell out to the Grosvenor Club. By 1903 the whole building was taken over by the Orchestrelle Company of New York (the Aeolian Company). As manufacturers of musical instruments, and especially the mechanical piano-player known as the pianola, they converted the space into offices, a showroom, and a concert hall.
Aeolian Hall was a popular venue for the Russian recitalist Vladimir Rosing. The hall was even turned into an intimate opera house for one set of performances. In June 1921 Rosing presented, with director Theodore Komisarjevsky and conductor Adrian Boult, a season of Opera Intime, performing The Queen of Spades, The Barber of Seville, and Pagliacci.
After the destruction of their St George's Hall studios in March 1943, the BBC took it over for the recording and broadcast of concerts and recitals. The Beatles recorded "Taste of Honey" in the hall on 10 July 1963 for a BBC broadcast of Pop Goes the Beatles, a regular BBC radio show. This particular recording aired on 23 July 1963 (See insert from "The Beatles, Live at the BBC" EMI).
Led Zeppelin also recorded their well-known version of Robert Johnson's "Travelling Riverside Blues" at this location on 24 June, 1969 for broadcast on the BBC at a later date. This was essentially performed as a live recording, with some subsequent guitar over-dubs provided by Jimmy Page.
During the 1970s the studio was also used, in addition to the BBC's Maida Vale Studios, to record 'live' music sessions for The Jimmy Young Programme and The Terry Wogan Show with lesser-known British bands such as Peanuts and Sweet. The BBC continued to use the venue until 1975. Renoir House now occupies the site: the earlier building's frontage has been preserved and the hall at the rear is divided into offices for Sotheby's.
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