Today, August 8th, is the 53rd anniversary of “that picture,” the one indelibly etched in our rock and roll minds forever: the four Beatles taking a casual, yet posed and choreographed, walk across Abbey Road, steps from the historic recording studio where they made almost all of their amazing music. Taken by the late Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan, at John Lennon’s request and standing on a small stepladder, it’s perhaps the most recognizable album cover of them all. There’s even a live camera pointed at the crossing that you can view 24/7.
So if you’re a Beatles fan like I am, and your travel plans take you to London, a trip to the wall surrounding that sacred place, and its accompanying crosswalk intersection, is a must-visit to pay proper homage to the lads. After you’ve written something on the wall out front, a photo of you and your crew taking “the walk” is the icing on the cake. The problem is, the section of Abbey Road that is right by the famous recording studio is at a pretty busy intersection and, further, it’s right by a gnarly 4-way intersection of Abbey Road, Grove End Road and Garden Road. During a busy rush hour, cars, double decker buses and Uber drivers are flying through that crazy intersection at a consistent rate. It makes taking the perfect picture challenging, to say the least. Even if you do get a shot, the odds of getting a few more poses and angles can be slim; you have to get the shot and move along, as the drivers are not exactly patient when a tourist holds up traffic to take their shoes off while their friend or family member gets ready to take the picture.
There is, however, a fairly reliable way to not only take the walk, unencumbered by large crowds, but actually take your time to pull it off beautifully.
Sunday morning is a quiet time in London and, if your stay includes a Saturday night/Sunday morning stopover, you’ll be good to go. Right after the sun comes up, take an Uber, or grab the earliest-running tube (you’ll take the Jubilee Line) to the St. John’s Wood stop and it’s a short walk to the site. At that hour it will be rather tranquil, not a lot of traffic, and you can position both yourself and the person taking the photo with relative ease. I was lucky that my friend Ben happened to be in London the same time I was and, as an avid Beatles fan, it was easy to talk him into joining me at #3 Abbey Road one early Sunday morning in June, 2015, to grab the shot you see above.
Here’s wishing you the best of luck recreating your Abbey Road photo and, if you do, send me a shot!