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History and Design of Friar Park Studios, Henley-on-Thames (F.P.S.H.O.T.)

Updated: Mar 18

**Before I say anything else, I want to say this: F.P.S.H.O.T is located at a private residence. Please respect their privacy. Don't attempt to go there.**



Friar Park Studios, Henley-on-Thames (F.P.S.H.O.T.) was George Harrison's private recording studio from about 1972 and remained so through the rest of his life. In this age of an almost overwhelming amount information about The Beatles members and their lives, finding much information on the history of F.P.S.H.O.T. is surprisingly hard. In the several biographies on George that I consulted, most only make passing reference to F.P.S.H.O.T., if at all. That said, I think it safe to assume though that George wanted to be able to record without time limits and without having to make the hour-long drive to Apple or EMI (Abbey Road).

What I have found is that planning and construction of the studio began some time in 1971 under the supervision of recording studio designer Eddie Veale. According to Veale in this interview, he had first met George in 1969 at EMI (Abbey Road) Studios: "I’d met George Harrison previously [before designing F.P.S.H.O.T.] after his Moog synthesizer that he was using to record 'Here Comes the Sun' at Abbey Road developed a fault, and being the Moog guy at the time, I went along to sort it out for him."

Veale would stay in The Beatles' orbit throughout 1969-1970 by doing some speaker design and installation at The Beatles' Apple Studios at 3 Savile Row in preparation for it becoming a commercial recording studio, as well as designing John Lennon's Ascot Sound Studios. In May 1971 George spent a week at John Lennon's new home studio working on John's album Imagine. In addition to designing that studio, Veale remained at the studio during the sessions as a technical support. In this interview, Veale says that George approached him about half way through the sessions to ask if he would design and build a studio at his home.

George in the control room of FPSHOT prior to it's completion - Photo: unknown

Veale remembers, "When he [George] bought Friar Park, he asked me to help build him a studio there, during which time I worked for all the major studios. My time spent working with George was a great opportunity for me to develop new ideas" (source). George's brief to Veale was that the studios were to be technically excellent and that it's aesthetic was to fit in with feel of the rest of the house. According to Veale in a Mix Magazine article from 2011, “George had very clear ideas about what he wanted for his studio. It was part of his home, so it was to be ‘homey,’ and in context to the property. The décor had to fit in with and complement the style of the building, and achieve a high technical/acoustical standard."

Below are screenshots from the Living In The Material World documentary of the frame for the console being installed in the control room. According to author Jörg Pieper in his book The Solo Beatles Film & TV Chronicle 1971-1980 (pp. 100), this video was filmed in October of 1972.

Its hard to precisely track down when the first recording sessions took place at FPSHOT. Several sources including Klaus Voorman say that some (or most) sessions for Living In The Material World took place at FPSHOT even though the liner notes list Apple as being the sole studio.

I think its likely that sessions, which began in October 1972, first took place at Apple Studios and that perhaps later in 1972 or early 1973 the sessions were moved to FPSHOT when it was completed. Based on the state of the studio in the above screen shots, it seems highly unlikely to me that any actual recording would have been able to take place at FPSHOT as early as October 1972. George was said to have been enthused by the idea of Apple becoming a viable commercial studio which may explain why its the only studio listed in the liner notes for Living In The Material World.

Though F.P.S.H.O.T. still exists, this website will only be covering the time that George used the studio, roughly 1971 to 2001.



According to a November 1987 Musician Magazine article on George the location selected in the house was a ballroom. I've also read that the location was a former guest suite, but I haven't been able to confirm or deny either.

Below I've made a very rough floor plan of how I believe F.P.S.H.O.T. was laid out. Please note that I made this based on photos and it is not to scale and almost surely not completely accurate.

Control Room

When FPSHOT first opened in 1972, there was a short double-wide rack to the right of the console that held all of the studio's outboard. The rear wall of the control room was occupied by four Studer A-80 tape machines in various configurations. At some point in the early '80s, the rack was removed and replaced with a tall rack along the back wall which replaced the 16-track Studer A-80. Other than that change, the configuration of the control room stayed pretty consistent.

Left photo from the 1970s, middle from the 1980, and right from the 1990s:

Live Room

The layout of the live room stayed pretty much the same, though various instruments were moved in and out as the sessions dictated. It seems that the piano was moved to the guitar room some time in the '80s and remains there to the present day. There is a small step up to a platform at the end with the bay windows. At the other end, the "soda" and "candy" stained-glass doors lead into the "iso" room. I believe that the below photos are both from the early 1980s.

"Iso" Room

As noted above, the "soda" and "candy" doors lead into the "iso" room from the live room. At some point in the '80s or '90s, these stained-glass doors were replaced with more solid wood doors with circular windows, probably to aid in better isolation.

Below left and center are video stills of the iso room from the 1970s. Below right is a modern era photo of Dhani in the live room. Behind him we can see the solid doors that replaced the original stained-glass doors.

Guitar Room

I believe that the guitar room is somewhere near the studio but not directly connected to the control or live rooms. It seems that George spent a fair amount of time in this room playing guitar and jamming with friends. There are a few photos of the guitar room with a microphones visible, so I believe its possible some recording was done in the room as well. We can see in photos that the Steinway piano was moved into this room some time in the '80s. Photos also show the Rhodes and Timpani in this room at various times.

Update: a Facebook commenter who has been to Friar Park was very upset with me for calling the room in the below left photo the "guitar room". This is merely a room of no consequence with guitars in it. Even though I pointed out here on the blog that it was likely a different room, please forgive me for my wanton disregard in using the name "guitar room" in association with the room in below left photo. I apologize for anyone I misled and/or upset with this wildly inaccurate description.

Below left is George with his guitars at Friar Park in '79. Below right is George in the Guitar Room in '87.


​MAJOR SOURCES AND NOTES - The website of Veale Associates, the designer of Ascot Sound Studios. Many photos and the architectural drawings are from their website here.

"Classic Tracks: George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set on You”" by Blair Jackson. This Mix Magazine article has a ton of great info a bout F.P.S.H.O.T. It can be viewed here.

Beatles Gear - by Andy Babiuk - Far and away the most comprehensive book on the instruments and amplifiers used by The Beatles. Beatles Gear can be purchased here.

Recording The Beatles - by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew - This book is the bible when it comes to, well, recording The Beatles! It is a constant reference for me. Unfortunately it has been out of print for many years now.

Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium - by Chip Madinger and Mark Easter. An encyclopedia of dates and information regarding solo Beatles recording sessions through the year 2000. Very detailed. The book can be purchased as an E-Book here. - Website with tons of great info on George's Beatle era guitars - Website with pretty good info on lots of George's guitars from pre-Beatles years to his entire solo career. -The official website of George Harrison


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