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Abbey Road Studios, the Tourist, and Beatles Heritage

  • Peter Atkinson
Chapter
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)

Abstract

EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London NW8 was renamed Abbey Road Studios by EMI in 1970 after it was made iconic by the eponymous Beatles long-playing record (LP) with its famous cover of the four group members on the zebra crossing before the building. In this chapter I use Urry and Larsen’s concept of ‘the tourist gaze’ to discuss the changing meaning of Abbey Road Studios over the course of several decades and a wider relationship between the work of the Beatles and tourism. I will examine the processes through which the development of the music the group recorded at the studio in the period 1965— 1969 became symbolic of wider social and cultural change and argue that some of the songs prefigure the leisure and tourism activities and structures of later decades. In relation to its promotion as an object of the tourist gaze, I note that EMI and the Beatles’ company Apple exploited Abbey Road Studios in the 1980s during a period when there was an increased emphasis on national heritage. I conclude by arguing that the coinciding of an aggressive rebranding of ‘The Beatles’ in the mid-1990s with the retro-aesthetic of the newly named ‘Britpop’, reinforced the notion of a British rock tradition and lineage. This is seen to elevate Abbey Road Studios into a cultural symbol, giving it further appeal as a tourist destination.

Keywords

Literary Criticism Compact Disc Tourist Destination Popular Music National Heritage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Peter Atkinson 2015

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  • Peter Atkinson

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