Recording Studios

UNDER THE VOLCANO

todayAugust 29, 2021

Background
“I’ve had a bloody good innings. I can’t imagine anyone who’s been luckier than I have with the kind of artists I’ve been able to record.”
George Martin
Producer

AIR Montserrat Recordings: Dire Straits Duran Duran O.M.D Marvin Gaye Luther Vandross The Police Paul McCartney Rush E.W.F Elton John Steve Wonder The Rolling Stones Ultravox Gerry Rafferty


History

AIR’s studio facility on Montserrat, a tiny British Overseas Territory in the eastern Caribbean, has passed into rock folklore. In 1977 George Martin fell in love with the island and decided to build the ultimate, get-away-from-it-all recording studio. Opened in 1979, AIR Studios Montserrat offered all of the technical facilities of its London counterpart, but with the advantages of an exotic location.

For more than a decade, AIR Montserrat played host to recording sessions by a who’s who of rock and pop. More than 70 albums were recorded there in ten years, including Hot Hot Hot by Arrow, Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms, Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity by The Police, Elton John’s Too Low for Zeroand Steel Wheels by the Rolling Stones. Duran Duran, Ultravox, Lou Reed, Black Sabbath and Eric Clapton all passed through the idyllic Montserrat studio.

Then, in 1989, disaster struck when Hurricane Hugo hit the island, destroying 90% of its structures. The building and its equipment were irreparably damaged, and, perhaps aware that record labels wanted their stars closer to home, George Martin called it a day. His love for Montserrat never faded and in the wake of a later devastating volcanic eruption his fundraising efforts went a long way towards putting the island back on its feet.

 

The Documentary

Under the Volcano charts the rise and fall of AIR Studios Montserrat, the recording studio at the center of the pop universe in the 1980s. Built by Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin in 1979, AIR Studios Montserrat was a custom-built, state-of-the-art recording facility tucked away on a Caribbean paradise. In the shadow of an active volcano, the studio not only attracted the biggest musical talent on the planet, but was the birthplace of mega-hits such as Money for Nothing and Every Breath You Take. For a decade, AIR Montserrat formed the backdrop to monumental events in music history including the break-up of The Police, the reunion of The Rolling Stones, and the reinvigoration of Paul McCartney after the tragic murder of John Lennon. After a decade of hits, and at the peak of its popularity, the studio was destroyed when the island was hit by a series of devastating natural disasters. Through personal accounts and backed by a blistering soundtrack, Under the Volcano is the definitive account of George Martin’s Studio at the end of the world, a place that generated a perfect storm of talent, technology and isolation, ushering in music that would live on long after the last tape rolled.

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