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SARM Studios (formerly known as SARM West Studios) is a recording studio located in Notting Hill, London. The studios were established by Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, and were originally known as Basing Street Studios. It has also been known in the past as Island Studios. SARM is an acronym of Sound and Recording Mobiles.
The studios were built inside a former church that had been deconsecrated. Blackwell recorded a number of artists there for Island Records, such as Iron Maiden, Bob Marley, Steve Winwood, Free, Bad Company, Robert Palmer, Jimmy Cliff, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, King Crimson, John Martyn, Mott the Hoople, Quintessence, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Sparks, Cat Stevens, Spooky Tooth, Traffic, If, Jethro Tull, the Average White Band, and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
The studios were also used by notable non-Island Records acts, such as Madonna, ABC, The Clash, Pet Shop Boys, KT Tunstall, Depeche Mode, The Eagles, Dire Straits, East 17, Take That, Boyzone, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Rihanna, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Joan Armatrading, Nik Kershaw and the Lighthouse Family.
In 1970, two famous albums were recorded at the studios at the same time: Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin IV and Jethro Tull's Aqualung. Similarly, Bob Marley & The Wailers and the Rolling Stones were in the studios at the same time at one point in 1973. Marley also lived for a year in an upstairs apartment at SARM, and his personal chef cooked at SARM for most of the 1980s. Queen booked the studios in summer 1977 and recorded part of their album News of the World there, including the hit "We Are the Champions"; Queen had previously used the studio to record sections of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "The Prophet’s Song" at the studios in 1975, and to record the video for "Somebody to Love" a year later. Also the cathedral organ on George Michael's album Faith (1987) was played there.
In the mid 1970s, Sarm was the first 24-track recording studio in England; it later became the first with 48-track facilities.
In November 1984, Studio 1 at Sarm West was the venue for the recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by the members of Band Aid in support of relief efforts for the 1984–1985 famine in Ethiopia. In November 2014, the studios were used to record the Band Aid 30 charity single.
In May 2011, the studios announced a major refurbishment which would result in two new studios as well as music business offices. The redesign would also include living accommodation, with the aim of facilitating a return to the studios’ 1970s policy of concentrating on long-term bookings.
The studios are currently owned by SPZ Group, which is a holding company belonging to Trevor Horn and his late wife Jill Sinclair. The Sarm Studios complex also houses the offices of the SPZ-owned record labels ZTT Records and Stiff Records, and publishing companies Perfect Songs and Unforgettable Songs.
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