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Thank you for the music: recording studio to shut its doors

The studio that recorded ABBA, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones is closing down

Karl Ritter | April 8, 2004

STOCKHOLM — The sounds of ABBA, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones have bounced off its padded walls.

Now, Sweden's most famous recording facility, Polar Studios, must shut down because the owners can't pay the rent.

"It's a mistake being made right now," said Lennart Oestlund, part-owner and one of the studio's original sound engineers. "I see it as a museum of Swedish music history, especially ABBA."

The Swedish pop quartet's record label started the studio in 1978 and the group recorded its last three albums there. However, the first big album recorded at Polar Studios was Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door, in 1978.

Hundreds of bands and solo artists followed, including Backstreet Boys, Genesis, the Beastie Boys, the Cardigans and Roxette - making Polar Studios a hot spot on the international music scene.

Swedish music fans compare it to Abbey Road Studios in London, of Beatles' fame, or Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, where Elvis Presley launched a thousand hipshakers.

Oestlund said he and studio co-owners Tomas and Marie Ledin are paying 1.4 million kronor (US$184,000) a year in rent to the housing cooperative that owns the building on Kungsholmen, one of the many islands that make up Stockholm.

"It's almost double the market rent," he said, adding that attempts to bring payments down had failed. "Two-thirds of our revenue goes to rent."

The head of the housing cooperative, Goeran Nyberg, did not answer phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Oestlund said the five-room studio would close in May and probably be turned into office space. He hasn't given up on music, though, and hopes to set up a new studio somewhere else.

"I'll keep a mixer board and some microphones and try to start a new operation on a smaller scale," he said. –Sapa-AP

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