Normans little shop had quickly evolved into a music enterprise, so it was time to move out and set up somewhere that could accommodate a bigger studio. A dingy disused engraving works tucked away in a back alley in Soho was chosen as it allowed a completely fresh start, allowing the Sheffield brothers to build something from scratch. The 5,000 square foot studio opened up in 1968 and quickly became a successful studio, one that many sought after for bringing their music and creativity to life.
Norman Sheffield’s Vision
Part of the attraction of Trident Studios to many musicians was this ethos of Normans, that the recording studio should be somewhere artists were encouraged to be creative. Artists were starting to tire of the regimented vibes, operations and engineers in white lab coats at other studios across London (we’re looking at you Abbey Road!) and needed somewhere that REALLY allowed them to let their creative juices flow. The Beatles jumped on this opportunity and recorded ‘Hey Jude’ there, thanks to Tridents recording equipment at the time being more advanced than the four track recorder at Abbey Road. The Beatles went on to record many tracks from the White Album here too.
Looking at the list of artists who recorded there, you can see why the studio was famed for its creative background. David Bowie, Elton John, Free, Thin Lizzy and Queen just to name a few have all recorded albums and singles there. Queen in particular had a strong relationship with Sheffield as he managed the band in their early days, with their first four albums being recorded at the studio. Trillion Video, a TV production arm of the business was created as Norman quickly saw that the music video was going to be the next big thing, with Bohemian Rhapsody being one of their most well-known videos.
Key Equipment and Innovations
A feature synonymous with the studio is the ‘Trident Piano’, a handmade Bechstein grand piano over 100 years old often described as “the best rock and roll piano ever”. It was rented to the studio for over 20 years by the London music shop Samuels and was eventually bought by them in 1986. It was notoriously difficult to play because of its stiff hammers, meaning that they player had to really hit the keys to get something out of it. Despite this notoriety, the bright and crystal clear sound it delivered attracted loads of musicians and the piano now has a huge list of songs and albums including David Bowie's albums, 'Space Oddity' 'Hunky Dory' 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'Aladdin Sane', Queen's albums 'Queen' 'Queen II' 'Sheer Heart Attack' and Elton John's 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' 'Blue Moves' ' and 'A Single Man' albums. In May 2011 the piano went up for auction with a guide price of £300,000 - £400,000. Neither the purchaser or figure it sold for have ever been publicly revealed…