For 10 years, AIR Studios Montserrat produced
many of the biggest hits that defined the 1980s.
On September 17, 1989,
it all ended in a flash of wind, rain, and fury.
The AIR Studios Montserrat recording studio, owned by Sir George Martin (often referred to as the "Fifth Beatle"), operated from 1979 to 1989 on the small picturesque Caribbean island of Montserrat. Playing host to some of the biggest recording artists of the 1980s, this studio produced many of the hit songs integral to the musical fabric of that decade. The isolated tropical environment of the studio's location on Montserrat created a unique creative environment not found anywhere else in the world. To many of those who worked and recorded there, it is regarded as a very "special place", an experience that left an indelible imprint on their lives. Sadly, the storied history of AIR Studios Montserrat was suddenly cut short when the destructive forces of Hurricane Hugo battered the island in September of 1989. 90% of the island's structures were damaged or destroyed including AIR Studios' facilities. Six weeks later, George Martin saw the devastation first hand and chose to end studio operations, bringing an abrupt end to the studios impressive run of influential recordings. Almost 30 years later, the remains of the studio lay in ruin as the island reclaims the land that was once creative fertile ground for artists such as The Police, Dire Straits, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, and Elton John. Paralleling the current decay of the studio's structures 30 years after its closing, the history of AIR Studios Montserrat is being lost to time. Important artifacts such as pictures, videos, and documentation are degrading or have been lost. People’s memories are fading and key persons in its history, such as George Martin and Geoff Emerick, have passed. In order to preserve the legend of this important piece of modern music history before it is lost forever, this book will capture the stories of the studio as told by those who were there: the technical team who designed and built the studio, artists who recorded there, the staff who worked for the studio, and Montserratians who lived on the island while the studio was in operation. It will also preserve technical information of the studio and include a visual history of the island and artists' experiences through collections of photos, video captures, and studio design documentation.
The prolific musical output from AIR Studios Montserrat cemented its place in music history and world culture. The studio's sudden demise at the hands of Hurricane Hugo creates an emotional ending to an important artistic enclave that touched so many people around the world. The story of its creation, operation, and demise needs to be told so it can be appreciated by the millions of music fans whose lives were defined by the music produced there.