Happy Abbey Road Day! It was on this very day in 1969 that The Beatles spent a mid-morning being photographed walking across the zebra crossing on Abbey Road, just outside of the world famous studio that would soon bear its name. At the time it was called, simply, “EMI Studios.”
The album wasn’t always going to be called Abbey Road. The working title was Everest, named after the brand of cigarette their engineer Geoff Emerick used to smoke. It wasn’t called Abbey Road until well into the recording sessions in the summer of 1969, with Paul eventually coming up with the title.
The iconic photograph, from a series of shots taken by Iain MacMillan, was taken at the beginning of what otherwise was a working day for the band, on August 8, 1969. After taking a few test shots in the days prior, MacMillan showed up at 11:35am, positioned his stepladder at the just the right spot, and starting clicking once The Beatles emerged from the studio. Taking just six photographs, likely due to the limited patience of the London police officer who held up traffic on that busy street, the band chose the best one to adorn the cover.
After the photo shoot, John and Yoko walked around the corner to Paul’s house on Cavendish Avenue, George and Mal Evans went to the London Zoo, and Ringo went shopping. They reconvened later that afternoon at Abbey Road, where they added overdubs onto “The End,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Oh! Darling.”
With the album’s success, that zebra crossing became a mecca for Beatles fans, who’d come from all over the world to walk across the road at all hours of the day and night to get a photograph. Many of them nearly nearly got hit by a car or double decker bus careening down that very busy road. In addition, fans write messages on the outside wall by the Abbey Road Studios car park. The staff don’t mind, they simply whitewash it every so often for a fresh palette. There’s even a live camera pointed at the crossing 24/7 that you can view at anytime!
Of course, every single time I visit London, I HAVE to make the trip to Abbey Road and get a shot crossing the street. My most recent photo is the one at the top of this article. My friend Ben Post happened to be in London at the same time I was so, being a Beatles maniac like I am, he was all too happy to meet me there for a photo or two. I took the first tube early Sunday out of Canary Wharf, and we had the place to ourselves! Early Sunday morning is the BEST time to go!
I posted that shot on Facebook, and then I asked our MGK listening family to send me THEIR pictures at the world most famous zebra crossing. Turns out, lots of our listeners have been there! Check out these photos from all different angles, plus some of the cool stories behind these shots! Photos used by permission.