Strawberry Studios At 50

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Strawberry Studios in Stockport (alliteration attack!). Opening its doors in 1967, it soon became a creative hub for recording in northern England. What’s great about anniversaries is that we can normally expect to see a museum of some sort to celebrate the milestone. So, if you find yourself in Stockport at any point in 2017, head over to the exhibition at Stockport Museum where you can see memorabilia on display. It’s called Strawberry Studios: I Am In Love, it opened on January 27th but runs until January 29th 2018.

The recording studio really has quite the legacy, as it was set up at a time when there were hardly any recording studios outside London. Pretty much all the great Manchester bands recorded albums there: Joy Division, The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses & Buzzcocks (Paul McCartney also recorded there). However, 10cc were the band that probably used it the most prolifically, as members Eric Stewart & Graham Gouldman became half of a quartet of investors. At the start, the studio had very humble beginnings. It was called Inter-City studios & was located above a music shop in the town centre, with egg boxes lining the walls to provide sound insulation & a makeshift control desk held together with sellotape & string. But things started taking off once they moved to larger premises, the name being taken from “Strawberry Fields Forever”, as it was apparently Stewart’s favourite song. The studio would make an impression on all who used it. Factory Records producer Martin Hannett would make it his recording studio of choice, incorporating creative tricks (fun fact: the lift sound on Joy Division’s “Insight” is the sound of an actual antique lift at the studio).

Sadly, Strawberry Studios closed its doors in 1993, but how fortunate that we finally have the chance to learn about the musical narrative of Manchester. It’s an opportunity that I feel has been missing for a long time…

 

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