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Master and commander: interview with Abbey Road Studios’ Peter Mew

After 48 years of working at Abbey Road Studios, Peter Mew has retired, taking with him a priceless collection of memories, and the nameplate from his mastering room.

He was employee 001 when he joined the studio in 1965. Nearly half a century later, Abbey Road Studios senior mastering engineer Peter Mew – who also spent a good 20 years as a recording engineer – is ready to retire, even if the studios still wants him there at least one day a week for the next year.

A man who wore many hats, he’s also written the studio’s database software from scratch, and needs to update it as much as possible before he’s gone for good.

At his retirement party, Mew gave a speech during which he said “My wife thinks all I do all day is listen to music and drink coffee, and I’ve got away with that for 48 years!” We’re sure there was much more to it than that, but Mew’s not giving many secrets away… To so many people Abbey Road is the Holy Grail, but to you it’s been your work place. Absolutely, and that’s difficult to get your head around, the fact that people would give their right arms to come here, and I just walk in – and have done for years and years. It’s one of the few places were you might say “Oh bloody McCartney, he’s put his car in my space!” and anybody else would just gasp: [mimics deep reverence] “Paul McCartney!” and that just the way it is [laughs]. When you think about your career here, what stands out? I started here after three years as a studio engineer. So I’ve done that, I’ve done this (mastering) and I’ve done pretty much everything. Over those 40-odd years, you see everything, you’ve done everything and you pretty much work with everybody, so nothing really stands out as a highlight. There are things I would like to have done: work with Frank Sinatra, for example, one of the greats. I never really worked with The Beatles but pretty much anybody else who has been through Abbey Road’s doors I’ve worked with, and they just become a string of nice people you talk to. They sit in that chair and tell me stories, and it’s fantastic. Read the full feature within the free iPad Edition of PSNEurope or via the online Digital Edition.