AIR, or Associated Independent Recording, was founded in London in 2965 by Sir George Martin, a producer best known for his extensive work with the Beatles.
Location & Geography
Montserrat Island is a British Overseas Territory and is a part of Leeward Islands which is a chain of islands known as the Lower Antilles. The total land area is about 100 square kilometers. The property which housed AIR studios was also known as Olveston House.
AIR was founded in London in 1965 by Sir George Martin of The Beatles fame, alongside John Burgess. The Montserrat studio was AIR’s second recording studio after its first location in London. It was opened in 1979 and offered extensive facilities amongst the striking beauty of Montserrat. Leading artists of the time travelled and used the facilities to record their top hits in the 1980s. Sir George Martin is quoted as often stating his fond memories of Montserrat, saying he fell in love with the island and just knew in his heart that he would build and provide the ultimate studio experience. Sadly, his dream was to last only a decade before Hurricane Hugo hit the island in 1989.
Ravaging Natural Disasters
A total of 76 albums had been completed at the studios when the Hurricane Hugo hit the shores of Montserrat in 1989. This disaster devastated the island and destroyed most the property of AIR Studios. The disaster led to the studio shutting down and the fate of the studio and any hopes of revival were completely put to bed after the 1995 Soufrière Hills Volcano eruption. The eruption rendered almost two thirds of the island inhabitable while condemning the major city and towns to several feet of debris.
The establishment of the studios led to a revival of the island’s fortunes as leading recording artists came to stay and record their albums and mingled with the local population. For some artists it provided inspiration to produce their best numbers. Some major names to grace the studio at the prime of their career are Dire Straits, Sir Elton John, Eric Clapton, Sir Paul McCartney, the Police, Stevie Wonder, and more.