I don’t mind a bit of trainspotting. Anybody who knows me well enough knows that I am a black-belt Who fan. They are the greatest rock n roll band of all time, for so many reasons. A couple of these was their "do it the way we want it done" ethic, and their utter loyalty to Mother England. There was no French Riviera tax exile for the West London 'Oo. And they built their business into the London landscape.
I've been aware of Ramport Studios ever since pouring over the liner notes of "Quadrophenia", possibly one of the best prog-rock albums ever made... though the album itself wouldn’t agree - t's just a story about addled youth in Grimy old 1960s London. Ramport was an old church hall near Battersea power station along the Thames. Pink Floyd fans know this area from the cover art of "Animals." It is here that the band chose to put their money down.
Long story short, at more than five times the original set up budget, the studio began recording "Quadrophenia" before the control room was even half finished. That part of proceedings was achieved with dear old Ronnie Lane's mobile studio. Those things were all the rage in the 70s.
Because it cost so much money to build, the studio had to go commercial, and so later after many albums and changes of hands, it was finally closed, gutted and ended up a medical clinic. Knowing this, I thought, "How hard can it be to get a little peek inside?" Well, not too easy, but I did it.The doctor in residence thought I was crackers and not interested in my rock n roll pilgrimage. I was ushered out.
I trudged off in the cold grey morning, considering a pie 'n' mash... with bloody eels. But, a few minutes later, impulsively, I just turned around and was soon standing in the waiting area, gazing up at the ceiling of what was so obviously the old quadrophonic control room - all the acoustic treatments still intact. Around the wall you could see the various locations of patch panels and light fittings.
Through the double doors, open again, were a group of women setting up for a child therapy class that morning... in the main studio room. At least these ladies understood my angle - they knew why I was there. "Go ahead, take photos, it's not a problem." Thank you. This is my kind of mecca. I picked up more than a few ideas from studying this building.
I could just imagine the famed Ramport roadcase bar, leant on by Keith Moon, sloshed with cognac and whiskey. some of my favourite music came outta that room. My trainspotting credentials went blackbelt on this mission too I'd wager.
Long live Rock.