Sarm West Studios

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SARM Studios
Sarm West Studios
OwnerSPZ Group
AffiliationsCompanies within the building:

Sarm West Studios was a recording studio in a former 17th century chapel at 8-10 Basing Street, in Notting Hill, London, England. Originally established in 1969 as Island Studios by Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, the studio was also known as Basing Street Studios until 1982, when it was acquired by SARM studio owners Jill Sinclair and her husband, producer Trevor Horn, and renamed Sarm West.


Island Studios (1969-1981)[edit]

Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, built the Notting Hill studio within a deconsecrated 17th-century church, opening Island Studios in 1969. The Basing Street studio was one of the first in London to have a 16-track recorder, and Blackwell commissioned former Olympic Studios Technical Director Richard "Dick" Swettenham to build a recording console for the new studios, resulting in the formation of Helios Electronics[1] and its first console, Island Studio 2, a 20-input, 8-buss console with 16-channel monitoring.[2] The building also served as headquarters for Island Records from 1969 to 1973. From 1975 to 1982, the studios were referred to as Basing Street Studios.[3]

Notable music recorded at Island Studios includes portions of Led Zeppelin's album Led Zeppelin IV, including "Black Dog" and "Stairway to Heaven",[4] Jethro Tull's Aqualung, The Eagles' album Desperado, The Jeff Beck Group album Rough and Ready, Dire Straits' eponymous debut studio album,[5] and Stephen Stills self-titled debut solo album, featuring guitar work from both Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, as well as contributions from Mama Cass, Graham Nash, Booker T. Jones, and Ringo Starr.[2]

The Wailers' albums Catch a Fire and Burnin' were both completed at the Basing Street studios. In 1977, Bob Marley lived in an upstairs apartment at the studio during his 14-month self-imposed exile from Jamaica, recording the album Exodus.[6]

Songs recorded at Island Studios include "Without You" by Harry Nilsson, "After Midnight" by Eric Clapton, "All Right Now" by Free, "Peace Train" by Cat Stevens, and "Many Rivers to Cross" by Jimmy Cliff.[2]

Other artists who recorded at Island Studios include Genesis, Paul McCartney, Go, Steve Winwood and Traffic, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Mott the Hoople, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Sparks, Joan Armatrading, and The Clash.[7]

Sarm West (1982-2013)[edit]

Jill Sinclair and Trevor Horn, owners of East London's SARM studios, bought Island's Basing Street studios in 1982, renaming them Sarm West Studios to complement their existing East London studio. Horn and Sinclair also established offices at the Basing Street location for ZTT Records and Stiff Records labels,[8] as well as Perfect Songs and Unforgettable Songs publishing companies.

In November 1984, Studio 1 at Sarm West was the venue for the recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by the members of Band Aid in support of relief efforts for the 1984–1985 famine in Ethiopia, and in November 2014, the studios were used to record the Band Aid 30 charity single.[9]

In 1987, the studio's cathedral organ was recorded for George Michael's album Faith.[10]

In 2004 to 2005, Gorillaz recorded their album Demon Days at the studio. The album was made alongside Danger Mouse and featured many guests recording in the studio such as De La Soul, Shaun Ryder and Dennis Hopper

In May 2011, two new studios and music business offices were added. The redesign also included living accommodation, to facilitate a return to the studios’ 1970s policy of long-term bookings.[8] The studios became part of SPZ Group,[11] a holding company belonging to Sinclair and Horn.

Sarm West was used by numerous notable artists, including Iron Maiden, Art of Noise, Nik Kershaw, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Propaganda, Yes, Grace Jones, Seal, Marc Almond, George Michael, Madonna, Belle and Sebastian, Pet Shop Boys, KT Tunstall, Depeche Mode, East 17, Take That, Boyzone, Christina Aguilera, and Rihanna.[12][13]

Sarm Music Village[edit]

SPZ Group opened the Sarm Music Village 6-studio complex in nearby Ladbroke Grove in 2013 and closed the Sarm West Studios on Basing Street.[14] In 2018, the former church building was converted into nine luxury flats.


In October 2019, a commemorative blue plaque dedicated by the Nubian Jak Community Trust honoring Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer was placed at the site of the former Basing Street Studios where The Wailers' albums Catch a Fire and Burnin' were completed, as well as the Bob Marley and the Wailers album Exodus[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Spencer-Allen, Keith (June 2000). "Richard Swettenham 1927-2000" (PDF). Studio Sound. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "The HeliosCentric Helios Console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway to Heaven", and Bob Marley & the Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch A Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios Console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-Present),". Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  3. ^ "Basing Street Studios". International Musician. September 1975. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  4. ^ Welch, Chris. "Classic Interview: Engineer Andy Johns on the secrets behind Led Zeppelin IV". Future Plc. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  5. ^ Sexton, Paul (14 February 2020). "Wild West End: An Epic Studio Adventure Begins With 'Dire Straits'". Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  6. ^ Meschino, Patricia (28 September 2007). "30 years later, Bob Marley's "Exodus" returns". Reuters. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  7. ^ Bennett, John G (2009). A Journey Through Whitechapel and Spitalfields (PDF). Nottingham: Five Leaves Publications. p. 45. ISBN 1905512546. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Sarm Studios set for major revamp". 19 May 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  9. ^ Denham, Jess (13 November 2014). "Band Aid 30 song and music video to premiere on The X Factor results show this Sunday". The Independent. London. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Ex-Wham singer George Michael has passed away at the age of 53". 25 December 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Sarm Studios - Home". Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  12. ^ Potton, Ed (1 October 2013). "And now it's farewell to the pleasuredome". The Australian. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  13. ^ Harrison, Andrew (May 2010). "Building The Perfect Beast". Word Magazine. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  14. ^ Duff, Simon. "Sarm Music Village: 'We really have gone from strength to strength'". ProSound News. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  15. ^ Motune, Vic (27 September 2019). "Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer to receive Blue Plaque honour". Voice Online. Retrieved 1 December 2021.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′03″N 0°12′18″W / 51.517612°N 0.204961°W / 51.517612; -0.204961