McCartney backs bid to save Abbey Road studios

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney told of his hopes that the famous Abbey Road Studios could be saved after reportedly being put up for sale by owner EMI.

The record company's private equity parent Terra Firma is said to be hoping the north London site - made famous by the eponymous Beatles album and zebra crossing cover shot - could raise tens of millions of pounds.

Sir Paul, who recorded most of the Beatles' songs at Abbey Road, told BBC's Newsnight: "There are a few people who have been associated with the studio for a long time who were talking about mounting some bid to save it.

"I sympathise with them. I hope they can do something, it'd be great."

He added: "I have got so many memories there with the Beatles.

"It still is a great studio. So it would be lovely if somebody could get a thing together to save it."

The sale would help EMI to pay down some of the mammoth debts it was saddled with after Terra Firma's highly-leveraged 2007 takeover.

The music group bought the property for £100,000 in 1929, transforming it into world famous studios that have hosted artists as diverse as composer Sir Edward Elgar, who recorded Land Of Hope and Glory with the London Symphony Orchestra there in 1931, to Pink Floyd and Blur.

Abbey Road's rich history also saw it used for propaganda recordings for the British government during the Second World War.

The Beatles used Abbey Road for 90% of their recordings, naming their final album after the studios in 1969.

However, recent recording advances and cheaper overseas studio facilities have added competitive pressure to Abbey Road and a sale of the studios would raise much needed cash for its struggling owner.

EMI - which counts Robbie Williams and Coldplay among its artists - posted a £1.75 billion loss for the year to March 2009 in accounts earlier this month.

Terra Firma was last week reportedly looking for investors to pump £120 million into the business as it seeks capital.

It took on huge debts in 2007 to buy the firm and is almost certain to breach lending terms without further investment, handing control to lender Citigroup.

Another round of cost cutting its also understood to be in store as the group taps investors for cash.

EMI chief executive Elio Leoni-Sceti is believed to be drawing up plans to strip millions of pounds from the company's costs and rapidly grow the group's digital operations.

The group yesterday remained tight-lipped on any sale of Abbey Road or if it was part of a wider asset sale.

EMI has looked to exploit the Abbey Road name in recent months, only last November launching a service called Abbey Road Live, offering fans a way to buy instant concert recordings at venues.

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