September 2019 marks the golden anniversary of the Beatles’ multi-platinum album Abbey Road – the last work they recorded before their seismic breakup. Released in September 1969, it was the end of both the Sixties and the biggest and greatest band of all time.
To explore this anniversary, the world’s leading Beatles historian, Mark Lewisohn – whose highly-acclaimed Tune In is the first part of the band’s definitive biography – will embark on a Irish and UK tour with his newly-created Abbey Road show Hornsey Road. Catch this show at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre on Saturday 5 October.
What to expect?
This two-hour live theatre presentation – full of surprises, delights, humour and excitement – will be a swift and smart illustrated history of our forever national-heroes the Beatles and their biggest album Abbey Road, providing a unique insight into the band who changed the course of culture and whose influence is still substantial.
About the show
Hornsey Road illuminates Abbey Road from every angle, telling the stories behind the songs and the lives of its four creators, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – the youngest of them just 26, the eldest 29 at the time it was made. The show will explore the many momentous events that occurred during its recording, when the Beatles were creatively together inside the studio but falling apart outside. This was the year of their breakup, and the album was made at a time of turmoil in their personal and business lives, when two of them were newly married and the band lost business assets and couldn’t agree on future direction.
“Hornsey Road is all about Abbey Road, the people who made it and the time in which they did it. This artistic triumph was created at a hectic junction in the Beatles’ lives, and I’m going to be revealing the rich history, refreshing the remarkable stories behind its making, and bringing it all back by sight, sound and smell. I’ll be delivering an original and surprising look at this collection of great songs, superbly recorded by the Beatles and their producer George Martin fifty summers ago and packaged in that highly-imitated cover art of the four of them on the zebra crossing in north London. I’ll be explaining the album’s making in the context of the 1969 contemporary music scene, and depicting the four Beatles as friends, bandmates and artistic individuals at the peak of their creative powers, crowning the many precedent-setting events of their previous six years together with this glorious parting shot.”
Mark Lewisohn, who’s he?
Mark Lewisohn has the world’s best archive of Beatles materials, harvested over 40+ years of unrivalled deep access to public and private collections. On stage he will be talking audiences through a stunning array of strong and relevant content, with rare music, photos, films and collectable artefacts.
Mark has been writing about the Beatles since 1977, when he was nineteen, and he’s the author of The Beatles Recording Sessions, The Complete Beatles Chronicle and co-author of The Beatles’ London. Since 2003 he’s been immersed in researching and writing All These Years, a thirty-year project to set down the complete history of it all – a comprehensive, contextual and sociological narrative of 20th century life with the Beatles at its core.
Abbey Road – the album
Abbey Road was the Beatles’ eleventh album, followed only by Let It Be, which had already been recorded. There are 17 songs on Abbey Road, which made it the Beatles’ longest single album at more than 47 minutes.
Abbey Road was a first-week number 1 on the NME album chart, deposing Johnny Cash At San Quentin. It held the top spot for 18 straight weeks, until being displaced by Led Zeppelin II on 7 February 1970. It stayed in the top ten until April. In America, Abbey Road hit number 1 on the Billboard Top 100 album chart on 1 November 1969 and held the top for 11 weeks.
Worldwide sales to date are estimated at 35 million.
Abbey Road – the place
The album was named after the street in St John’s Wood, London NW8, where the Beatles recorded most of their music from 1962 – in the EMI Studios building at number 3. Renamed Abbey Road Studios as a consequence of the Beatles’ album, the facility remains as active now as it’s been throughout its 88 year history, since opening in 1931. Again because of the Beatles, the zebra crossing close to the front gates is one of London’s most popular tourist spots, declared a Grade II listed site by English Heritage in 2010.