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Abbey Road Studio Opens Its Doors to Fans

LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - Abbey Road studio, where the Beatles recorded almost all their music, attracts tens of thousands of fans each year.

They come from across the world to worship at the place where it all began. They photograph the famous pedestrian crossing outside, and most of them write their name on the walls. But they couldn't go in.

Until now.

For 16 days through April 3, Abbey Road is opening its doors to the public for the first time since it opened in 1931. To celebrate 25 years of movie scoring, begun when John Williams led the London Symphony Orchestra through his soundtrack to "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the studio is holding its own film festival.

Only movies whose music was recorded at Abbey Road are featured, starting with the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" and finishing with "A Yellow Submarine."

The immense Studio One, which can accommodate a full 120-piece orchestra, has been converted into a 350-seat cinema, and the smaller Studio Two contains an evocative exhibition of photographs of stars who recorded there, from Bing Crosby (news) to Fred Astaire (news) to Bette Davis (news).

David Holley, managing director of the EMI Studios Group, which owns Abbey Road, says that letting the public in was overdue.

"We think 100,000 people annually write their names on the walls outside. We clean them off every few weeks. It's a tradition we like, however," Holley says. "It started in 1980 when John Lennon (news) died. Many people congregated outside and an engineer played 'Imagine' out the window."

Many try to enter the studios, and Holley says the receptionist has found a thousand ways to say no. "But we thought, with the 25th anniversary of our first film-score recording, that we would celebrate by letting people see where all that great music was made," he says.

Empty of instruments and equipment, Studio Two is just four walls and parquet flooring, but that doesn't stop big-time Hollywood producers from getting down on all fours to kiss the floor, according to Holley.

Director Anthony Minghella is not immune. He and his musical collaborator Gabriel Yared held a master class in film scoring on Friday to kick off the festival. They each have an Oscar for "The English Patient," one of the films being screened.

They also wrote and recorded a song for "Cold Mountain" in the studio. "James Taylor (news) recorded it, but at the last minute we decided it didn't work for the film, and we cut it," Minghella says. "At least we know we had our Abbey Road experience."

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