Trident Studios

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The former Trident Studios building at St Anne's Court, Soho, London, 2018, with the David Bowie Blue Plaque The former Trident Studios building, St Anne's Court, Soho, London 2018.jpg
The former Trident Studios building at St Anne's Court, Soho, London, 2018, with the David Bowie Blue Plaque
Trident Studios Logo Trident Studios Logo.png
Trident Studios Logo
Trident Studios interior circa 1975 Trident Studios.jpg
Trident Studios interior circa 1975

Trident Studios was a British recording facility, located at 17 St Anne's Court in London's Soho district between 1968 and 1981. It was constructed in 1967 by Norman Sheffield, drummer of the 1960s group the Hunters, and his brother Barry.

St Annes Court

St Anne's Court is an alleyway that connects Dean Street and Wardour Street in London's Soho district. Parts of it can be dated back to the late seventeenth century.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, and the largest city in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Soho District in London, United Kingdom

Soho is an area of the City of Westminster, part of the West End of London. Originally a fashionable district for the aristocracy, it has been one of the main entertainment districts in the capital since the 19th century.


"My Name is Jack" by Manfred Mann was recorded at Trident in March 1968, and helped launch the studio's reputation. Later that year, the Beatles recorded their song "Hey Jude" there and part of their self-titled double album (also known as the "White Album"). Other well-known albums and songs recorded at Trident include Elton John's "Candle in the Wind", David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust , and Queen's albums Queen , Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack .

Manfred Mann English rock band, formed in London in 1962

Manfred Mann were an English rock band, formed in London in 1962. The group were named after their keyboardist Manfred Mann, who later led the successful 1970s group Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The band had two different lead vocalists during their period of success, Paul Jones from 1962 to 1966, and Mike d'Abo from 1966 to 1969.

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The line-up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr led them to be regarded as the most influential band of all time. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and they experimented with a number of musical styles in later years, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.

Hey Jude original song written and composed by Lennon–McCartney

"Hey Jude" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as a non-album single in August 1968. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The single was the Beatles' first release on their Apple record label and one of the "First Four" singles by Apple's roster of artists, marking the label's public launch. "Hey Jude" was a number-one hit in many countries around the world and became the top-selling single of 1968 in the UK, the US, Australia and Canada. Its nine-week run at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 tied the all-time record in 1968 for the longest run at the top of the US charts. It has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on music critics' lists of the greatest songs of all time.

Other artists recorded at Trident included the Bee Gees, Carly Simon, Chris de Burgh, Frank Zappa, Genesis, Brand X, James Taylor, Joan Armatrading, Joe Cocker, Kiss, Tygers of Pan Tang, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Marc Almond, Marc and the Mambas, Soft Cell, the Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy, Tina Turner, T-Rex, Van der Graaf Generator, Yes and John Entwistle.

Bee Gees English-Australian pop group

The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. Their lineup consisted of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The trio were especially successful as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and later as prominent performers of the disco music era in the mid-to-late 1970s. The group sang recognisable three-part tight harmonies; Robin's clear vibrato lead vocals were a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry's R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the mid-to-late 1970s and 1980s. The Bee Gees wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists.

Carly Simon American singer-songwriter, musician and author

Carly Elisabeth Simon is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and children's author. She first rose to fame in the 1970s with a string of hit records; her 13 Top 40 U.S. hits include "Anticipation", "You Belong To Me", "Coming Around Again", and her four Gold certified singles "Jesse", "Mockingbird", "You're So Vain", and "Nobody Does It Better" from the 1977 James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

Chris de Burgh singer from the United Kingdom/Ireland (British-Irish)

Christopher John Davison, known professionally as Chris de Burgh, is a British-Irish singer-songwriter and instrumentalist. He started out as an art rock performer but subsequently started writing more pop-oriented material. He has had several top 40 hits in the UK and two in the US, but he is more popular in other countries, particularly Norway and Brazil. His 1986 love song "The Lady in Red" reached number one in several countries. De Burgh has sold over 45 million albums worldwide.

The Sheffield brothers had a relaxed working attitude, but also emphasised high standards of audio engineering. [1] [ page needed ] The studio's state-of-the-art recording equipment helped attract many major artists to record there.

The Beatles and Apple Records

In mid-1968, Trident Studios were among the first in the UK to use Dolby noise reduction, and employ an eight-track reel to reel recording deck.

Noise reduction is the process of removing noise from a signal.

Multitrack recording process of mixing individual sound sources to a single recording

Multitrack recording (MTR)—also known as multitracking, double tracking, or tracking—is a method of sound recording developed in 1955 that allows for the separate recording of multiple sound sources or of sound sources recorded at different times to create a cohesive whole. Multitracking became possible in the mid-1950s when the idea of simultaneously recording different audio channels to separate discrete "tracks" on the same reel-to-reel tape was developed. A "track" was simply a different channel recorded to its own discrete area on the tape whereby their relative sequence of recorded events would be preserved, and playback would be simultaneous or synchronized.

While Abbey Road Studios still only used four-track at the time, Trident's Ampex eight-track machine drew the Beatles on 31 July 1968 to record their song "Hey Jude". Paul McCartney later said about recording the track at Trident: "Words cannot describe the pleasure of listening back to the final mix of 'Hey Jude' on four giant Tannoy speakers which dwarfed everything else in the room ..." [1] [ page needed ] The White Album tracks "Dear Prudence", "Honey Pie", "Savoy Truffle" and "Martha My Dear" were also recorded there, and on 22 February 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 Eric Clapton on lead guitar.

Abbey Road Studios recording studio in London, England

Abbey Road Studios is a recording studio at 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, London, England. It was established in November 1931 by the Gramophone Company, a predecessor of British music company EMI, which owned it until Universal Music took control of part of EMI in 2013.

Ampex company

Ampex is an American electronics company founded in 1944 by Alexander M. Poniatoff as a spin-off of Dalmo-Victor. The name AMPEX is a portmanteau, created by its founder, which stands for Alexander M. Poniatoff Excellence. Today, Ampex operates as Ampex Data Systems Corporation, a subsidiary of Delta Information Systems, and consists of two business units. The Silicon Valley unit, known internally as Ampex Data Systems (ADS), manufactures ruggedized, high-capacity, high-performance digital data storage systems capable of functioning in harsh environments on land, in the air, at sea, and in space. The Colorado Springs, Colorado unit, referred to as Ampex Intelligent Systems (AIS), serves as a laboratory and hub for the company’s line of industrial control system cyber security products and services and its artificial intelligence/machine learning technology which is available across all of the company’s products.

Paul McCartney English singer-songwriter and composer, bass guitarist of The Beatles

Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He gained worldwide fame as the bass guitarist and singer for the rock band the Beatles, widely considered the most popular and influential group in the history of popular music. McCartney is one of the most successful composers and performers of all time. He has written, or co-written, 32 songs that have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and as of 2009 he had 25.5 million RIAA-certified units in the United States. His songwriting partnership with John Lennon remains the most successful in history. After the group disbanded in 1970, he pursued a solo career and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine.

Many Apple Records artists used Trident Studios, including Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin and James Taylor. Part of George Harrison's triple album All Things Must Pass , containing the 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.


The history of the Sheffield brothers and Trident Studios is also linked to the early discovery and success of the rock band Queen. In 1972, Trident Studios started two record production companies, one of which (Neptune Productions) initially signed three artists, Mark Ashton, Eugene Wallace and Queen. The agreements with the artists were for recording and publishing, but Queen had no management, so they insisted that Trident also take on that responsibility. Trident, initially reluctant, eventually agreed and Queen signed an agreement with Trident Recording, Publishing and Management, on 1 November 1972.

The Management at the time claimed the deal allowed the band full access to the studio's cutting edge facilities, and supported them by providing the best producers and engineers - so long as the foundations of the band's first album Queen were recorded 'off peak' [2] . Roger Taylor later quoted these early off-peak studio hours as "gold dust". [2]

After the album was completed the Sheffield brothers had great difficulty finding a record label to take on the album and release it. [1] [ page needed ] Finally, eight months later, the brothers decided to take on the risk and fund the release themselves and Queen released their self-titled first album under the Trident label in a license deal with EMI Records in the UK and Elektra Records in the US. Trident subsequently released Queen II , Sheer Heart Attack and A Night at the Opera under this same arrangement. After the band left Trident, they signed directly with EMI and Elektra.

The 2018 Queen Biopic Bohemian Rhapsody featured a dramatisation of the studio in the film [3] , during the making of Seven Seas of Rhye.

David Bowie, Elton John and others

In March 1968, Manfred Mann recorded Trident's first number one at the studio, the single "My Name is Jack". From 1968 to 1981, some of the most reputed artists used the studios for their recordings, including David Bowie, Elton John, Marc Bolan/T.Rex, Carly Simon, Frank Zappa, the Rolling Stones, Free, Genesis, Lou Reed, Joan Armatrading, Black Sabbath, Lindisfarne, Dusty Springfield, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Krisma, Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart and other artists. Elton John's "Your Song" and Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" were both engineered at Trident by Robin Geoffrey Cable, who later went on to produce two albums for the Dickies.

Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma Records was also one of the most regular clients of the studios during the 1970s. Genesis recorded at Trident several of their most renowned albums there, including Trespass (1970), Nursery Cryme (1971) and A Trick of the Tail (1976). The jazz fusion band Brand X recorded their debut studio album Unorthodox Behaviour here (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 from 11 to 14 December 1969. Most of the album was recorded on 8 track, but the last song, "After the Flood", was recorded on 16. Trident was also among the first studios in the UK to obtain a 16-track machine. [1] [ page needed ]

The Trident 'A' Range console

Trident Studios interior circa 1975 from the Studio and the famous Bechstein Piano Trident Studios 1975.jpg
Trident Studios interior circa 1975 from the Studio and the famous Bechstein Piano

The Trident A Range consoles were originally built by and for Trident Studios. Other studios placed their orders and Trident Audio Developments was formed. Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles was one of the early recipients of one of the first production models, and ultimately purchased three new from Trident and one from a broker at a later time. [1] [ page needed ] David Bowie, Rod Stewart, and Frank Sinatra are among the early artists who first recorded hit records on Cherokee’s first 'A' Range console.

"Though it had a very limited run, the Trident A Range console gained a reputation for its very distinct and pleasant sound with a very "musical" EQ section. Along with channel strips from early Neve and Helios consoles, original Trident A Range modules have kept a healthy resale value and are much sought after by engineers who like to combine old-school analogue gear with cutting-edge digital recording technology." [4]

Studio piano

Trident also gained a reputation for the sound of its piano, which can be heard on the Beatles' "Hey Jude", Elton John's "Your Song", Queen's "Killer Queen" and many other tracks. It was a handmade C. Bechstein concert-sized instrument that was over one hundred years old. [1] [ page needed ]

Later history

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 which was opened in 1983 and the investors were J.P. Illiesco and Rusty Egan. There were also another group of producers and investors who tried to buy Trident in the 80's after its initial closure headed by Neville Kernick-Nixon, Flood and John Keating, the former then opened The Mad House later known as The Music Station. [5]

The original Trident mixing desk also survived, and was purchased in the early 1980s from the studio's owners by songwriter and former Cure bassist Phil Thornalley. It is now housed in Thornalley's own recording studio, Swamp Studios in north-west London. The Swamp is actually based around the Trident Tri‑mix desk. [6]

The current residing business, Trident Sound Studios Ltd, opened in 1993 and specialises in voiceover and ADR work. Although not related to the original Trident Studios, it was named in recognition of the original facility.

Sheffield together with two of his sons and a former sound engineer from Trident continued to work within the music industry and assisted in the development of a mobile music app named "Trackd". The app allows musicians to record collaboratively directly on a mobile device using an 8-track mixer, and also allows the apps' musicians to promote their music to a worldwide using the app platform promoted through app stores. The app has been downloaded over a quarter of a million times to date and won awards for its innovation to music technology.[ citation needed ]

Blue Plaque Honour

On 15 June 2017, a British Plaque Trust permanent blue plaque was unveiled outside the building at 17 St Anne's Court, London in the recognition of the multiple David Bowie albums recorded there. [7]

Partial discography

The following is a partial list of work either recorded, mixed or mastered at Trident Studios between 1968 and 1981, taken from the timeline on the Trident Studios official website and edited.

Ace How Long (1974)
America America (1971)
Joan Armatrading Whatever's for Us (1972)
The Beatles "Hey Jude", "Dear Prudence", "Honey Pie", "Martha My Dear", "Savoy Truffle" (1968), "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" (1969)
Bee Gees Odessa (1969)
Marc Bolan / Tyrannosaurus Rex / T-Rex Unicorn (1969), T. Rex (1970), Electric Warrior (1971)
The Boomtown Rats "I Don't Like Mondays" (1979)
David Bowie Space Oddity (1969), The Man Who Sold the World (1970), Hunky Dory (1971), The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972), Aladdin Sane (1973), Pin Ups (1973),
Chris de Burgh Far Beyond These Castle Walls (1974)
Billy Cobham Spectrum (1974)
Cass Elliot The Road Is No Place for a Lady (1972)
Free Fire and Water (1970)
Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel (1978 album, often referred to as Scratch)
Genesis Trespass (1970), Nursery Cryme (1971), Selling England by the Pound (1973), A Trick of the Tail (1976), Wind & Wuthering (1976), Seconds Out (1977), ...And Then There Were Three... (1978)
Elton John Elton John (1970), Tumbleweed Connection (1970), 17-11-70, Madman Across the Water (1971), Honky Château (1972), Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player (1973), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973), Rock of the Westies (1975)
Judas Priest Stained Class (1978)
Manfred Mann "My Name is Jack" (1968)
Mott the Hoople All the Young Dudes (1973)
Queen Queen (1973), Queen II (1974), Sheer Heart Attack (1974), A Night at the Opera (1975)
Lou Reed Transformer (1972)
The Rolling Stones "Midnight Rambler" (1969), Let It Bleed (1969)
Rush Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980) [8]
Carly Simon No Secrets (1972)
Supertramp Crime of the Century (1974)
James Taylor James Taylor (1968)
Thin Lizzy Nightlife (1974)
Tygers of Pan Tang Crazy Nights (1981)

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Ken Scott British record producer and engineer

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Trident A Range consoles were originally built by and for Trident Studios. When word spread about this revolutionary new multi-track recording console design, other studios placed their orders and Trident Audio Developments was formed. Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles was one of the early recipients of one of the first production models. David Bowie, Rod Stewart, and Frank Sinatra are among the early artists who first recorded hit records on Cherokee's first A Range console. With only 13 consoles ever built of this model, the Trident A Range has attained a near mythical status in the professional recording industry.

Malcolm Toft is an audio engineer and businessman who worked at Trident Studios, first as an audio engineer, then as the studio's manager, and eventually as co-founder of recording console maker Trident Audio Developments. Toft went on to form another console company, Malcolm Toft Associates, which eventually led to the founding of Toft Audio Designs and now to Ocean Audio. Toft is also co-owner of The Music Mill Studio.

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Norman Sheffield was a music and advertising industry figure, most noted for his music industry recording and management roles, ownership of the former Trident Studios, and being the original manager of the rock band Queen.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Sheffield, Norman (2013). Life on Two Legs. ISBN   978-0957513303.
  2. 1 2 "Queen: From Rags to Rhapsody - BBC Four". BBC. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  3. Depicted by the orange Trident Studios logos on tape recorders and on plaques on Record Awards upon studio wall
  4. Mix Magazine, 1 July 2001
  5. "Ping Pong Music". Ping Pong Music. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  6. The Swamp is still based around the Trident Tri‑mix desk Thornalley bought in the early '80s (retrieved 2 July 2018):
  7. "BBC Music - Blue Plaques celebrating your local music legends - revealed!" . Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  8. John Patuto. "Rush: Permanent Waves - Album Lyrics and Liner Notes". Retrieved 27 June 2016.

Coordinates: 51°30′52″N0°08′02″W / 51.5144°N 0.1339°W / 51.5144; -0.1339