Trident Studios

Trident Studios was a British recording facility, located at 17 St. Anne's Court in London's Soho district. It was constructed in 1967 by brothers Norman and Barry Sheffield. The first major hit recorded at Trident was My Name's Jack by Manfred Mann in March 1968, which launched its reputation. One of the many famous albums recorded at Trident was Lou Reed's Transformer, produced by David Bowie, who in turn recorded many albums there including The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. Rick Wakeman was the in-house session keyboard player at the time and can be heard on many recordings, including the classics "Life on Mars?" and "Changes".

It was the Sheffields's relaxed attitude to audio engineering and state of the art recording equipment that made many artists want to record there. In other studios, such as EMI/Abbey Road Studios, the engineers walked around in white coats and did most things "by the book".

Trident Studios always had the newest and most groundbreaking equipment. They were the first studio in the UK to use Dolby noise reduction, and employ an eight-track reel to reel recording deck. Whereas other studios might spend months testing a new device, the Sheffield brothers believed that if it had been manufactured in the first place, then it was good enough for studio use. Their Ampex eight-track machine drew The Beatles on July 31st 1968 to record "Hey Jude" (Abbey Road still only used four-track) although Abbey Road had taken delivery of a 3M eight-track machine it was not suitable for over-dubbing and had to be modified before use. The White Album tracks "Dear Prudence", "Honey Pie", "Savoy Truffle" and "Martha My Dear" were also recorded there. It was also here that, on February 22, 1969, The Beatles first recorded "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" for the album Abbey Road. John Lennon and Yoko Ono later returned with The Plastic Ono Band to record "Cold Turkey" featuring the lead guitar track played by Eric Clapton.

Many Apple Records artists used Trident Studios, including Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, and James Taylor. Some of George Harrison's triple album, All Things Must Pass, containing the massive hit "My Sweet Lord", and Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy", were also recorded there. Harry Nilsson recorded "Without You" at Trident, and portions of several of his 1970s albums. Paul McCartney inadvertently helped Queen on their road to success — he used to block-book the studio and not always turn up. This allowed Queen to record in the studios in his absence.

Trident gained a reputation for its piano which can be heard on "Hey Jude", Elton John's "Your Song", and many other tracks. It was a handmade C. Bechstein concert-sized instrument that was over one hundred years old and its classic sound was much sought after but, after being re-strung towards the end of Trident's history, sounded 'brighter' and was not to everyone's taste. Other artists who were sent from Apple Records to Trident, considering the limitation of the Apple studios at the time, were Harry Nilsson, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin and James Taylor, as well as the four members of the Beatles for their solo projects. Apparently, it was during these days that Paul McCartney decided to support a new promising band called Queen by letting them use the booked hours at the studio that he was intentionally not using. In March 1968 Manfred Mann recorded Trident's very first number 1 at the studio, the single "My Name's Jack", launching Trident as a top professional studio. During the early 70's, some of the most reputed artists used the studios for their recordings, including Elton John, Marc Bolan/T.Rex, Carly Simon, Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, Free, The Plastic Ono Band, Lindisfarne , Dusty Springfield, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Krisma and Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart. This period coincided with the incorporation of a young engineer called Ken Scott, who would become one of the most reputed engineers and producers in the history of rock music with his involvement in David Bowie's albums Hunky Dory (1971) and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972). Scott later gained an international reputation with numerous works, including Supertramp's Crime of the Century (1974), Lou Reed's Transformer (1972), Devo's Duty Now For The Future (1980) and Jeff Beck's There and Back (1980). Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma Records was also one of the most regular clients of the studios during the 70's. Genesis recorded at Trident several of their most renowned albums there, including Trespass (1970), Nursery Cryme (1971) and A Trick Of The Tail (1976). Other artists from the label who recorded at Trident were Van Der Graaf Generator, Peter Hammill, Lindisfarne and Peter Gabriel. Charisma's first Van Der Graaf Generator release The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other was recorded at Trident on December 11-14, 1969. Most of the album was recorded on 8 tracks, but the last song After The Flood was recorded on 16. Trident was yet again the first studio in the U.K. to obtain a 16-track machine. The history of the Sheffield brothers and Trident studios is also linked to the early days of Queen despite their turbulent professional relationship which ended in acrimony. The Sheffield brothers did an agreement with the band to allow them full access to the studio and its staff and supported them by providing the best producers and engineers so long as the foundations of Queen were recorded 'off peak'. Although this turned the process of the recordings into a longer process than everyone wanted, Queen still had access to the best of everything. After the album was completed the Sheffield brothers had difficulty finding a record company to take it on and get it released due to Queen's unorthodox and very different sound, as well as the fact the band was called Queen and consisted of four men. Finally, eight months later the brothers released the album themselves under the Trident label. Following the success of the first album, Queen were signed to EMI and subsequently went on to release Queen II.

Trident Studios was sold in December 1981. It was bought by its senior engineer, Stephen Short, along with three other investors. In 1986, Short bought out the other investors and opened Trident 2.

The current residing business, Trident Sound Studios, was named in recognition of the original Trident Studios. Trident Studios originally occupied the whole five floors of the building, but today's studio comprises only the ground floor and basement.


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