Before the Grammy Award winning Parr Street Studios made a name for itself in the music industry, the business started from humble beginnings elsewhere in Merseyside.
Originally known as Amazon Studios, the business, fronted by recording boss Mr Jeremy Lewis, was based in Simonswood, Kirkby from the 70s and went onto welcome many soon-to-be famous artists through their doors when their careers were in their infancy. According to National Museums Liverpool, the studio was housed at a centre that used to give MOT tests to cars, meaning recordings would begin in the evening and carry on into the night.
On March 12, 1976, the ECHO reported how the eight-track studio had only released one single under their label so far, but that the business also did "a good deal of work for people who sell their own records and a fair amount of recording for Stag Music." By the 80s, Amazon Studios became more established and go to place for the local post-punk music scene.
Responsible for early recordings by bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen, the formation of Inevitable Records also gave Amazon the opportunity to record and release tracks by Merseyside bands such as China Crisis, It's Immaterial and Dead or Alive.
Through the years, The Smiths and Black Sabbath also recorded there. If you're a music lover who grew up in Kirkby or elsewhere in Merseyside, you'll likely remember the early days of Amazon Studios, before Parr Street Studios were born.
These images, recently unearthed from our archives, Mirrorpix, show the early days of Amazon Studios and have been unseen for years. One image, taken in January 1976, shows Jeremy Lewis and Mike Bersim inside the new recording studio on the Simonswood industrial estate.
You can also see Mr Lewis in the studio again in 1981 as well as in Parr Street over a decade later in 1992, when it was newly opened. It was in the early 90s that the business moved venues to make it more viable.
Do you remember Amazon Studios in Kirkby? Let us know in the comments section below.
On February 24, 1992, the ECHO reported: "The million pound dream of Liverpool recording boss Jeremy Lewis becomes reality today. The man behind the world-famous Amazon Studios, celebrates the opening of his state-of-the-art studio complex in the city’s Parr Street, along with hundreds of rock stars and colleagues.
"Jeremy, who originally set up his studio and the Inevitable recording label in Kirkby’s Simonswood in the late 1970s, now has the biggest residential recording base of its kind in Europe. The move from Kirkby and the renovation of the art deco premises - involving new hi-tech studios, recreational areas and plush residential suites for recording stars - has cost well over £1m."
In September 2001, studio manager Anne Lewis also reflected on the move from Kirkby to the city centre. At the time, the business had become part-owned by Tony Smith as well as band members of Genesis.
In 2001, Anne told the ECHO: "There was no accommodation and hotels were scarce in those days. We are now well-established.
"We employ 11 people and provide work for self-employed engineers and others. Most work is from outside the city," said Anne. "Many of our bookings are with London record companies, for bands from all over the world. And we produce all kinds of music.
"We recently produced the opening music for the Manchester Commonwealth Games, for instance. In the past, we've struggled to bring people to Liverpool, as there was an attitude everything had to be done in London. But things are changing. Bands who make it big here want to stay at home."
From the 90s, Parr Street Studios became one of the country's most celebrated. Over the years, it was used by the likes of Coldplay, Echo and The Bunnymen, Rihanna, Black Sabbath, Diana Ross, The Charlatans, Moby, Pulp and Take That.
But in April 2020, news that the Grammy award winning studios would close on the premises drew a significant reaction from within the city’s music and cultural scene. The Attic bar, found above the studio, closed in 2021 and the recording studio has since relocated to Kempston Street in Liverpool's Fabric District to make way for the development on Parr Street.
Earlier this week, the ECHO reported how a building next to the former Parr Street Studios has been demolished, "enabling" the future redevelopment of the historic site. Formerly used by The English Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, 55 Parr Street was knocked down. after being purchased by a private buyer last month, as reported by Liverpool Business News.
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