Mill Hill Music Complex first opened to customers in 1979. Since then it has grown to be one of London’s premier facilities for musicians. Up to 1,000 musicians a week pass through the 17 studios at the complex. Ever wondered what the story was? Well this is the story so far….
The studio started in what was then the derelict caretakers cottage at Bunns Lane Works, primarily as a base for Mill Hill Punk band, The False Dots. Our first paying customers were British Rockabilly Icons, the Polecats and our second was Alan Warner, legendary guitarist from The Foundations. We opened our doors on St Valentines day 1979. At the time the equipment was a hotch potch of begged and borrowed gear. Around this time STN studios also opened up in what is now studio 2.
In 1984, STN Studios moved on and Mill Hill Music Complex moved into studio 2. At the time, we had the imaginative name of Unit 25 studio, the studio was the centre for the Mill Hill underground music scene. All manner of well known musicians would drop by, including Mark Laff, drummer of Generation X, and Huw Lloyd Langton of Hawkwind. Dozens of local bands would use the studio as a base. By the end of the decade, the studio was constantly booked and needed more space.
Ambitious plans were drawn up to build a brand new studio, purpose built for recording and rehearsal. In March 1991, Studio 2 opened its doors. By now the studio had built up a great selection of equipment, including Ludwig Drum Kits, Trace Elliott bass amplification and Peavey Guitar amps. In 1994, studio founder Roger Tichborne bought out his former Partners Dermot Fanning, Paul Hircombe and Mark Usher and invited a new Partner to join. Together with Ernie Ferebee, the studio went from two rooms to twelve. In 1997, a shop was added. After much discussion, the shop was named “Mill Hill Music Mart Ltd”. The studios also started operating as a professional recording studio. Early customers included iconic label Factory Records. At this time our chief engineer Fil Ross joined. The studio had built up an impressive array of clients. The Foundations had become regular customers, along with The Damned, all manner of well known drummers such as Frank Tonto also used the studios for private practice. Around this time we also saw David Soul frequenting the studio.
Tragedy struck. Ernie Ferebee developed pancreatic cancer and passed away in February 2001. Current Studio manager Darren O’Reilly joined the organisation to help out whilst Ernie was ill and has stayed ever since. The ever increasing list of customers grew throughout the decade with Brit Awards winners Amy Winehouse and Kate Nash becoming regulars. The South (formed after the demise of the Beautiful South) also started rehearsing regularly. Universal Records used the studio to help launch the career of Sonna Rele. More recently Modestep have been regular customers at the studio, rehearsing for their recent world tour and even filming videos. Another customer who recently recorded a video were the Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra, formed by Madness Sax player Lee Thompson. Other recent clients of note include 1970’s chart topper Chris Spedding and Deep Purple keyboard player Don Airey. In 2008 we saw Chicane rehearsing for their Top of the Pops show with Tom Jones in the Studio.
The Teenies (2010-now)
In 2012, the studios saw the fruition of a major redevelopment. Six new studios were added, as well as a modern toilet block and 50’s diner styled reception area. This has drawn admiring comments from many customers including Captain Sensible of the Damned on his Twitter feed. We’ve seen some great bands come through recently and make their name. London Grammar and Modestep are just two of the recent breaking bands to grace the studios. The run of great artists old and new has continued. We’ve seen established bands such as The Damned, The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra, The Polecats and The Foundations using the studios. We’ve also seen some great new bands come through, notably London Grammar and Modestep. We also had a lot of fun when Kingsland made the finals of X Factor and were rehearsing at the Studios. Of course we continue to see great up and coming bands passing through the studios, such as Black Doldrums and Hamptons, both of whom, we have high hopes for.
The studios have also become a stop off point for bands arriving for UK tours from the USA, including Eddie Floyd, The Black Kids and The Dickies.
Friends of Mill Hill Music Complex
The studio has been used by many well known artists for pre productions as well as recordings. Much of the pre production for Morrissey’s album “You are the Quarry” was done at Mill Hill Music Complex. Peter Gabriel’s world music label also used the studio to record demos. John Lawton of Uriah Heep recorded a solo album (Sting in the Tale) as did Huw Lloyd Langton of Hawkwind (Chain Reaction).
In 2011, we also saw the Sound Skool Youth music project launched at the site. This was supported by Mill Hill Music Complex. Well known DJ Mighty Moe gave up his time to become a tutor on the project, which helped over 50 young people develop their musical talents.
The studio sees an average of 2000 musicians (as well as photographers, video makers dancers and fitness customers pass through our doors). These are of all levels and all genres of music. Everyone is welcome. We have community groups, such as Community Focus, Your Choice Barnet Deaf Drumming Collective and charities such as Art It Up and The Challenge as well as the biggest international stars.
At Mill Hill Music Complex, whoever you are and whatever music you want to make, you are in good company.
That’s for you to write. They say every great song starts as an idea, unless you get out there and play it, that’s all it will ever be, so what are you waiting for !
- Have a look at some of our Lessons and Tuition
- Check out our live recording studio
- Checkout all our rehearsal studios
- Contact Us