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the official distractions website

Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strawberry Studios Forever

The original Distractions' home town of Stockport gave birth to one of the most important recording studios in British music history.  The Strawberry Studios website is dedicated to the studio's founders, the people behind the music and the groups who recorded there.

Why had those early Factory releases had that magical Hannett sound? The young genius had been able to plug in his digital thingy into the outboard racks of a major world-class thirty-six track studio that was in Stockport - Stockport ladies and gentleman, Stockport, because 10cc were a Manchester band and they had taken the proceeds of the delicious I'm Not In Love and had reinvested in their home.  Reinvested.  Built a fuck-off studio.  Respect."
Tony Wilson

Originally a tiny twenty-foot-square studio above a record shop in Stockport town centre called Inter-City Studios, Strawberry Studios' history began in 1967.  Peter Tattersall, who had roadied with Billy J Kramer and Dakota, purchased the studio's equipment and partnered with Eric Stewart of the local group, The Mindbenders.  Stewart's favourite song at the time was The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever, hence the name change by October 1967.  Due to being considered a fire risk to a neighbouring historic building, Tattersall and Stewart were forced to move the studios and so, having found a suitable shell of a building in Waterloo Road, rebuilt Strawberry Studios.

Strawberry Studios, refurbishment, 1968. (c) http://www.strawberrynorth.co.uk/history.htm.

Early hits recorded at Strawberry included a Stewart, Godley & Creme single Hotlegs which reached No.2 in the UK charts, not to mention famous football songs from Manchester City, Leeds and Everton.  Neil Sedaka cut two comeback albums at Strawberry before Stewart, Gouldman, Godley and Creme themselves recorded under the name 10 cc and were rewarded with a No.2 hit, Donna.  The rest, as they say, is history for 10 cc, who went on to record number one albums and top 10 singles, all at Strawberry, while investing income back into the studios to attract the likes of Paul McCartney and Bay City Rollers.

Strawberry Studios, 1974. (c) Peter Wadsworth at Manchester District Music Archive.

From 1976 Strawberry expanded down south (Strawberry South in Dorking) and over the road (Strawberry 2) freeing up some studio time for local groups and producers.  Martin Hannett would produce Factory Records acts Joy Division, Durutti Column, Stockholm Monsters, The Names, Minny Pops as well as The Stone Roses, and used the Studio facilities to mix songs by Factory's OMD, A Certain Ratio and the Happy Mondays. Other legendary groups who recorded at Strawberry included The Ramones, Buzzcocks, New Order, James and The Smiths.

Strawberry Studios, 1984. (c) Peter Wadsworth at Manchester Music District Archive.

The Distractions' first release for Island Records was recorded at Strawberry, 1979's update of It Doesn't Bother Me (it was track 1 on the debut EP) b/w One Way Love.  The single took two days to record at Strawberry and a further two days to mix at Olympic in Barnes, London - compared to the preceding single, FAC 12, Time Goes By So Slow, which was recorded in a few hours overnight.

Strawberry Studios, Blue Plaque, 1968. (c) http://www.strawberrynorth.co.uk/.

The late '70s, early '80s were Strawberry's heyday and by the mid-'80s the studios were sold to a rival concern, Yellow 2.  As the record industry withdrew to London, Strawberry had become a video production facility by the 1990s.  By 1993, the studio closed for good, ending the association of Strawberry and Stockport for good - gone but not forgotten.

Strawberry Studios, Waterloo Road, Stockport. (c) wikipedia.

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