South East Wales

Rockfield Studios: Making music and history in Monmouth

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Media captionHobo were in the studio when Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody

It is one of the most famous recording studios in the world - where Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody and Oasis recorded What's the Story Morning Glory.

And now the owner of Rockfield Studios near Monmouth has said he would eventually like to see it become a heritage site.

Kingsley Ward has given a rare interview to BBC Wales as an exhibition about the studios opens in Monmouth Museum.

Rockfield was the brainchild of Mr Ward and his brother Charles, two farmers turned pop impresarios.

Forty years on and Mr Ward remembers how it all began.

"It started in 1960 and 1961 when my brother Charles and myself, we had a band called the Charles Kingsley Combo and we borrowed a tape recorder and a microphone and made a little demo," he said.

"We went up to London, played it to [record producer] George Martin and that was our first insight into the record business."

Within a few years the brothers had "improved equipment" and were making "quite good demos".

Image caption Kingsley Ward: 'In the presence of people who at that moment in time do great things'

Among the artists who have recorded at Rockfield are Paul Weller, Annie Lennox, Robert Plant, the Stone Roses and Oasis.

Now its history has been captured in an exhibition at the museum, curated by local students with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"We didn't realise we were making history by becoming the world's first residential recording studios," he said.

"Sometimes things happen in your life and you look back, that's what happened to us. We were making history but we didn't really know it."

Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody at Rockfield Studios in 1975
Image caption Hobo signed to Rockfield in the 1970s

Among the bands to have recorded there are Hobo, who were in the studio when Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody.

"When we first met them [Queen], we didn't have a lot of money really," the band said.

"They were far more successful than us, but then when they came to do the Bohemian Rhapsody you could see the difference.

"They were very wealthy guys, but they were very nice, very approachable.

"We used to play Frisbee with them in the courtyard, and they used to have a cook and used to get all the best food and we'd get the scraps because we were always there. We'd think, 'Queen's having dinners, what's left?'"

Robert Plant and Paolo Nutini are just some of the names who have recorded there in the last few weeks.

"The privilege of being involved in a company like Rockfield is that certain times of your life you're in the presence of people who at that moment in time do great things," Mr Ward said.

"It's very nice to be there, part of it, just as an onlooker."

And with its rich history, he has long-term hopes for the place.

"I would think Rockfield could be around for many, many years to come, even to the stage where it might be classed as a heritage site," he added.

Image caption A signed note from Clash front man Joe Strummer to Rockfield Studios

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