Rockfield Studios: The Little Welsh Recording Studios That Became World Famous

©Martin Howard / Flickr
©Martin Howard / Flickr
Photo of Hannah Freeman
21 November 2017

Almost 50 years ago, the sleepy, farming town of Monmouth, on the Welsh borders experienced its very own rock revolution. Two brothers from a local farming family, Charles and Kingsley Ward, decided to turn some of the disused farm buildings into a recording studio, having experimented with new recording techniques in the attic of their farmhouse. Originally known as Future Sounds Ltd, it wasn’t until musician Dave Edmonds suggested the name be changed to Rockfield Studios in 1967, that the legend was born.

In 1969, the studios moved out of the house into The Courtyard Studios. In 1973, The Quadrangle Studio was added, offering a live room large enough to accommodate full bands. Over the decades, the studios have played host to some of the most famous names in contemporary musical history. With such illustrious connections, Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody in The Quadrangle and Oasis’ Liam Gallagher is said to have been inspired to write Wonderwall whilst working at the studios, it holds a special place in the hearts of musicians and music lovers across the world.

The studios were Britain’s first residential studios and the London set loved it. From the 1970s onwards, wave after wave of chart-topping musical talent descended upon Monmouth. It wasn’t just a studio, it was a retreat (and the parties were legendary). The 1970s saw Mike Oldfield (of Tubular Bells fame), Hawkwind, Motorhead, Man, Joan Armatrading and, of course, Queen. The 1980s brought Adam and the Ants, Iggy Pop, The Stone Roses, The Waterboys and Robert Plant, amongst countless others. By the 1990s, artists included Catatonia, Coldplay, Del Amitri, The Pogues and Black Sabbath. Oasis, Black Grape, The Charlatons and the Boo Radleys all had number one hits in a twelve-month period, 1996-1997, all recorded at Rockfield. The studio’s success continued into the 21st century; many modern artists were desperate to record in such hallowed halls. Kasabian, Ocean Colour Scene, KT Tunstall, Supergrass…the list goes in.

Today, residents of Monmouth often spot celebrities lurking in coffee shops or just walking down the high-street enjoying a much needed break. The success of Rockfield Studios put Monmouth on the international musical map and over the past 40 years many musicians have chosen to settle in the villages and hills surrounding the town, so if you get the opportunity to visit Monmouth, be prepared for a little bit of star spotting.

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