If Liverpool loses Parr Street Studios it loses the right to be called City of Music

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Red Rum Club outside Parr Street Studios

Liverpool’s iconic Parr Street Studios may be demolished if a planning application is approved, Getintothis’ Peter Guy says the impact on the city could be irreparable. 

What constitutes a City of Music?

Musicians, music venues, music studios, music rehearsal rooms, music promoters and music fans.

Liverpool ticks all the above and so much more. It always has – and probably always will.

This is despite every obstacle repeatedly put in front of those that attempt to make it function on a daily basis.

It is the people that make all of the above happen – but how long before those people tire and say ‘enough is enough‘.

News today that a planning application has been submitted to demolish Parr Street Studios, music venue Studio 2 and music bar The Attic is the latest hammer blow to Liverpool’s status as a City of Music.

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If they are demolished they’d be added to a shocking list of music venues which have been lost in the last decade.

These include The Kazimier, MelloMello, Wolstenholme Creative Space, The View Two Gallery, Nation – the home of Cream and the city’s biggest student night Medication – and smaller DIY spaces the WellMagnet and Buyers Club.

Putting today’s news into sharper context, put simply, Parr Street Studios is Liverpool’s music studio.

Al Groves at the Motor Museum

Of course, there are several other recording studios across the region – the picturesque Motor Museum, known for being the birthplace of OasisSupersonic and recording The Arctic Monkeys, one of several which Merseyside can be proud of.

However, none are slap back in the middle of the city centre and have the pedigree or heritage of Parr Street Studios.

The mere mention of the words ‘Parr Street’ conjure up images of The Bunnymen, Coldplay and their contemporaries in front of a giant mixing desk.

Of a bedraggled Ian McCulloch fixing his hair before entering the vocal booth. Or Will Sergeant tuning his guitar in the wooden panelled walls of studio one.

There’s fabled stories of late night sessions with megastars Drake, Rihanna and Justin Bieber dropping in while playing the city – simply because they wanted a taste of the Parr Street Studios experience.

When 6 Music celebrated Independent Venue Week, they chose the adjacent Studio 2 for gigging king and indie DJ supermo Steve Lamacq to host his show there.

On the same day, the UK’s biggest breaking band Idles played a tea time matinee gig for lucky competition winners. The place exploded into life – it was just 4pm.

Chris Taylor (seated), producer at Parr Street with The Coral’s James Skelly (far left) and Neville Skelly

Every day a raft of producers descend on Parr Street Studios behind its innocuous front desk to record some of the biggest and brightest new hopes in world music.

Upstairs a makeshift hotel provides a stop over for some of the world’s best known rock and roll stars – all the while the city barely even knows they’re in town.

Blossoms, Catfish & the Bottlemen, Cabbage and Clean Cut Kid all cut their teeth at Parr Street while the raft of artists down the years to produce records in the studio is something else.

Beautiful SouthBill Ryder-Jones, Buzzcocks, The Boo Radleys, Cast, The Charlatans, Elbow, Embrace, Everything Everything, The Farm, Feeder, Gomez, Happy Mondays, The Wedding Present, I am Kloot, James, The Lightning Seeds, Napalm Death, New Model Army, New Order, The Verve, OMD, Pete Wylie, Pulp and Super Furry Animals are just a selection of Parr Street Studios alumni.

And then there’s legends: Grace Jones, Bjork, Spice Girls and Stone Roses. And Donny Osmond.

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There’s barely a new band in the city which hasn’t road tested material at Parr Street while the city’s most respected independent label, Skeleton Key Records produces nearly all its roster there with The Coral‘s James Skelly overseeing recordings.

Music venues in the city are in the most fragile of states – Phase One and The Kazimier Garden may not survive following the current coronavirus pandemic with crowdfunders already ongoing.

New plans submitted for Liverpool’s Parr Street

Sound on Duke Street and 24 Kitchen Street are also facing uncertain futures.

Last year, Liverpool lost the iconic Crash Rehearsal Rooms – another massive loss to a city already severely lacking affordable practice spaces for musicians.

However, the loss of the most famous recording studio in the North of England would be a devastating blow to Liverpool’s music infrastructure and storied contemporary history.

It is irreplaceable.

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Liverpool is made up of resilient, spirited, community orientated people – they’re qualities the city is known for across the world.

But how many times can we have our culture and music history wiped out before our city becomes redundant of the very features it proclaims to be?

One more time for the people in power: Liverpool’s music and culture is the reason why people visit the city.

If you keep dismantling it, no one will stay in your bloody apartments.

Without a city centre world class music studio – Liverpool cannot call itself a City of Music. It’s as simple as that.

Parr Street Studios planning notice

The Music Venue Trust has launched a new national campaign to try to avoid the widespread closure of music venues.

How can music fans get involved?

  1. Donate to a specific venue’s fundraising page by clicking this link www.saveourvenues.co.uk to see a list of local venues that urgently need help.
  2. Watch ‘at home’ shows by artists supporting the #saveourvenues campaign. Show details will be added to the events page at www.saveourvenues.co.uk
  3. Donate to the national #saveourvenues fund via the website www.saveourvenues.co.uk
  4. Help spread the word on social media using the hashtag #saveourvenues and the campaign link www.saveourvenues.co.uk.

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