Deconstructing: Abbey Road Cover Photography Session

8th August 2019
This Summer, we will be celebrating 50 years of Abbey Road the legendary Beatles' record that inspired our studios' name change and went on to become one of the most iconic and recognisable album covers in the world. On 8 August 2019, as we celebrate 50 years since the iconic photo was taken, we take a deeper look into the story of how it came to be.
 

A brief history:

All four Beatles gathered at EMI Studios on the morning of Friday 8 August 1969 for one of the most famous photo shoots of their career. Photographer Iain Macmillan took the iconic image that adorned their last-recorded album, Abbey Road. Iain Macmillan was a freelance photographer and a friend to John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

A policeman held up the traffic as Macmillan, from a stepladder positioned in the middle of the road, took six shots as the group walked across the zebra crossing just outside the studio. Pictured below is an empty crossing on the morning of taking the iconic photograph.
 
 

The original idea:

The original working title for Abbey Road was Everest, and the legendary cover was never in the plan at all. Engineer Geoff Emerick was smoking Everest cigarettes in the studio, and the band eventually took a liking to the stark image of their silhouettes against a white mountain. Everest became the working title of their then-unnamed eleventh album.

However, the Everest plan didn't last. Once the group decided that Nepal was out of the question, Paul McCartney then came up with the idea to take a photograph outside of EMI Studios on a break from recording. Pictured below is an original sketch from Paul depicting his ideas for what he wanted the album cover to resemble, to which Iain Macmillan added a more detailed illustration in the top right.
 
 
Shortly after the shoot, McCartney studied the transparencies and chose the only one where all four Beatles were walking in time. It also satisfied The Beatles' desire for the world to see them walking away from the studios they had spent so much of the last seven years inside.