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EMI says Abbey Road studios not for sale

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[February 22, 2010]  LONDON (AP) -- Cash-strapped music company EMI Group Ltd. has shelved plans to sell Abbey Road and is now looking for an investor to help save the London recording studio made famous by The Beatles.

InsuranceNews last week that EMI had been speaking to potential buyers sparked dismay among music fans. Former Beatle Paul McCartney said he hoped Abbey Road could be preserved, and the National Trust heritage group said it was considering buying the building.

But EMI now says it wants to keep the facility and is talking to "interested and appropriate third parties" about a revitalization project.

Abbey Road is one of the world's most famous music studios, used by artists including Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck and Radiohead.

EMI said Sunday it had rejected a 30 million pound ($50 million) offer for Abbey Road last year.

It said Abbey Road had been losing money "for a number of years ... and we have developed plans to revitalize the studios. These plans would involve a substantial injection of new capital."

EMI -- whose artists include Coldplay, Lily Allen and Robbie Williams -- has struggled financially since it was bought in 2007 for 2.4 billion pounds by private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners.

An audited report released earlier this month revealed that Terra Firma needs a huge cash infusion by June to avoid defaulting on its loans from Citigroup Inc. and may require more than $165 million to last through this year.

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EMI's predecessor bought the Georgian town house in London's residential St. John's Wood neighborhood for 100,000 pounds in 1929 and turned it into one of the world's most sophisticated recording studios. Edward Elgar recorded "Land of Hope and Glory" with the London Symphony Orchestra there in the 1930s. It is still used by orchestras; the soundtracks of the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" films were recorded at Abbey Road.

It is most closely associated with The Beatles, who made the bulk of their recordings from 1962 onwards at Abbey Road, developing an ever-more sophisticated sound under producer George Martin.

The crosswalk in front of the studio was immortalized on the cover of the band's 1969 album "Abbey Road," and still draws tourists eager to recreate the image for their holiday snapshots.

[Associated Press; By JILL LAWLESS]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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