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The Music Centre - CTS Studios Kingsway Studios - De Lane Lea

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Kingsway Studios

In 1969 the company De Lane Lea consisted of a film post production studio and the music recording studio in Kingsway. Both had been highly successful and Kingsway recording studios had become one of the top places to record rock. The studio was managed by Dave Siddle  and with the recording of artists including The Animals, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix , he was seen as the person to undertake the building of a new music complex that would bring their current business under one roof and expand. 

De Lane Lea's parent group BET owned land in Wembley that had originally been the site of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition. The studio was built over the top of what was originally an ornamental boating lake.

The Music Centre

De Lane Lea Music Centre or The Music Centre as it  became was the first purpose built recording studio in the UK, ( built from scratch, not in a converted building) constructed to such a size that it would be able to handle work from rock bands up to the largest orchestras for film scores. It took two years to complete the build.

Before the opening, Dave Siddle brought in a unsigned, unknown band to test out the facilities. This was Queen and some of the tracks recorded ended up being used on their first album.

In 1971 it was formally opened by Princess Margaret.

The studio became the talk of the industry and the first artists to record there included Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and Peter Green. Unfortunately all didn't go to plan and the industry talk changed in nature. Many problems arose  during the initial sessions that where apparent to the artists working there.  Maybe the under taking was just too big in a short space of time. The Music Centre was getting a bad reputation. Dave Siddle had great  ideas but maybe too much all at once. There were simply too many ideas and unknown quantities in terms of gear and studio design that hadn't been tested fully,the first being when the tape machine manufactures   went bust.

The Sound Techniques desk in Kingsway had served them well and was simply a great sounding desk so Siddle had approached them to make the desks for The Music Centre.  Again, maybe too much too soon for Sound Techniques as some basic switching problems hadn't been ironed out and the desks would reconfigure themselves randomly during sessions.

The powers to be came up with a plan.

Over to CTS studios first.

CTS Studios
47-53 Kensington Gardens Square

 

In the 1930s 49/53  Kensington Gardens Square was the home of the Whiteley's Gentlemens Club. The clubs large main room became the recording area for CTS Studio One.

In 1972 a property development company acquired the building of the then furniture store Frederick Lawrence and Co. in Westbourne Grove, for redevelopment.CTS Studios, situated around the corner in Kensington Gardens Square happened to be part of the same building and ownership of this occupied space came as part of the deal. The outlook for the studios was bleak and new premises had to be sought immediately for what was a very successful studio.

So there was the answer.

In 1972 CTS merges with The Music Centre and moves into the Wembley complex bringing with it a legacy of film sound track recording, lots of established business  and experienced personnel, into a great new building with a legacy of pop and rock and all ends well.

Unfortunately it didn't work like that. There was an immediate clash of cultures between the film boys and the rock enthusiasts. Each had their own working methods and gear preferences and 'merge' was not going to happen. Only one lot would win out and unfortunately for Dave Siddle it was not going to be the ones with the on going problems and poor bookings. He left the company and headed off for Studio 70 in Germany. The Music Centre basically became CTS Studios part two in all but name.

The CTS crew decided that the majority of the gear was unworkable but budgets wouldn't allow a complete overhaul. The original CTS gear had gone to a dealer and the desks had already been sold but  some of the CTS tape machines were still up for sale so they were bought up. A new Neve was ordered for Studio One. This was soon moved to Studio Two with the purchase of a new Neve 30/24. As work started to come in, the other studios were Neve equipped and eventually the original CTS Neve came back on the market and this was installed in Studio Four.

... the original CTS console. Rupert Neve, Tony Cornwell and myself did an overnight installation to get that console up and running for a full orchestral session the following morning'                 John Turner.                                    (picture courtesy of John Turner)

 

There then followed a period of great success both in the pop and film score departments but eventually the film score work took over and CTS became the main, busiest and best studios in the UK for such soundtracks.

CTS Equipment

1975  -  Neve 30/16 - Studer A80 16 trk

 

1977  -   Studio One    :    Neve 30/24

             Studio Two    :    Neve 26/24

             Studio Three  :    Neve

             Studio Four    :    Neve    20/16

3 x Studer 24 track, 1 x 16 track, 2 x 8 track  4 x A80 stereos,  6  x B62s, 1 x B63 mono plus additional Ampex decks.

In 1982 the final piece of the plan was put into place and the name changed to CTS Studio Ltd.

End of story. Not quite.

There is a strange twist to this, as the event that triggered  this series of events i.e.. The imminent demolition of the original CTS location in Kensington Gardens didn't happen so they actually didn't 'need' to move in the first place. This space was taken over by Marcus Studios at the end of the 70s.

The original Kingsway Studios was also reopened by some of the staff and was eventually bought by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple.

The Raindirk Desk at Kingsway

 

    

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