Pete Townshend has contributed a generous donation to help kickstart the Live Room, a live music space and recording studio that is based in Birkenhead, England in the Wirral area near Liverpool.
The goal of the Live Room studio is to “engage isolated and lonely musos who might not have gigged for a while”, and to provide a lifeline for musicians who are dealing with issues of addiction and poverty.
The project is run by Iain Ogilvie, who wanted to create a place for musicians to get together and find companionship and congregation around music. The area is full of retired musicians that were active in the 60’s, when the Merseybeat sound was all the rage and Liverpool was a hot bed of talent. Iain became friends with many of these musicians through his work at the Keyboard Repair Centre in the Wirral, and recognized a need to help out the music community there.
After working on a couple vintage Yamaha synths that Pete Townshend had brought in to the shop for repair, Iain reached out to see if he could help get this project off the ground. Pete loved the idea of the Live Room, and made donations via his Double O charity to help get the Live Room started and fund the purchase of a new Audient console for the recording studio.
The Live Room is located in the basement of a local church within the Liberty Centre in Birkenhead, which has donated the space for the project. It has a small stage for bands to perform, and studio gear to record music. The room is beautifully decorated and provides a warm welcoming place to hang out and create music. The walls are covered with fabulous artwork that was contributed by UK artist Bob Goldsborough, which includes a lovely portrait of Pete Townshend. A grant from the National Lottery helped them to purchase stage equipment and instruments, so the stage is very well equipped to host live events. Thanks to Pete’s donation, the recording studio is also equipped with top end gear.
The Live Room studio is now complete and the plan is to launch the opening sometime in early 2024. If you are a musician living in the Wirral, stop by and check it out!
For more information, please visit the Live Room Facebook page.
Many thanks to Iain Ogilvie for sending us the following photos and his background story of the Live Room, along with Pete Townshend’s statement about his contribution to the project!
Pete Townshend with John and Iain Ogilvie backstage at The Who show in St Helens, July 2023.
Here is Pete Townshend's statement about the Live Room:
Back in 1983 I helped Phil Hayes set up a community recording studio and hang-out place in Liverpool. That came to an end in December 2004, after many years serving musicians and being served by a few other stars like Paul Weller and Macca. That was The Picket in Hardman Street. Now legendary. (In 2006 The Picket reopened in new premises in Jordan Street.)
When LIVE ROOM contacted me, (or was it me who contacted their founder Iain Ogilvie - Yamaha service partner), I got an opportunity to help do the same again on The Wirral. Liverpool and its surround must be regarded as the birthplace of the first Britpop revolution with The Beatles, but it’s now almost forgotten how many other great artists and technicians came along in that first wave. I can name two; CAST and the LA’s. Linked and both truly great.
This LIVE ROOM operation is based in a church and has a studio, a live performance space and, like The Picket, space too for people in need of friendship and support to hang out.
I reached out to offer support financially and asked the British console builder Audient if they would do a deal on a new unit for the studio. They have always been ready to support me in my ventures whether personal or charitable and I love their equipment. One of my consoles was donated to a community studio in Cornwall called Livewire. I have also funded and equipped another open door studio in Mawgan in Cornwall called The Workshop at Trewince Studio. That too has an Audient console. I still use a 4816 in my small studio at home. So together Audient and I have built a community of communities, young and old musicians and performers and many just hoping to be around music, uplifting stories and advice about and help with survival.
The Audient ASP8024 at the Live Room.
The stage at the Live Room.
Here is Iain Ogilvie's background story of the Live Room:
Raised in AYR Scotland, my journey with The Who started as a teenager in the 1960’s. I identified strongly with the emerging, postmodern lifeology, birthed in the 60s, which was being driven mainly by the music industry and the arts. Many bands of the time were sticking a missile finger up at modernity and that past generation. The WHO’s My Generation was a classic ‘raspberry’ to society at the time.
My ‘Who Live at Leeds’ album launched in early summer 1970 would be almost worn flat as I listened to it repeatedly. In ‘Young Man Blues’ on that album, the line ‘young man ain’t got nuthin in the world these days’ – ending ‘he’s got sweet F-all’ resonated strongly and was one of the ingredients that helped me in my quest to be a rebel.
I had left school early, quit church (and Catholicism), found a job, met some new friends and went wild. That ended in October 1970 with a well-deserved two-year youth detention period. The following years were less chaotic; I was (still am) a bass player so I settled down somewhat, got married and committed myself to be a better person and to my music. I got some training as an electronics engineer and found a job as a technician fixing organs, amps and associated band gear. Still very much a WHO fan my life progressed through a difficult divorce and on into a new life in Liverpool where I worked with some very interesting musicians both as a musician and technician.
Fast forward... my business. The Keyboard Repair Centre (KRC) was doing OK. I was servicing the whole range of keyboards; 60s-70s vintage keyboards, 80s synths, 90s DXs and the like and current models. One day I got an email from Pete Townshend. He wanted me to repair a couple of vintage Yamaha keyboards which I did for a minimal charge (just a basic service actually). I believe he appreciated not being overcharged and he said ‘Thanks... I won’t forget that’.
My work at KRC put me in touch with several ex-Merseybeat-era musicians… many retired, or ill, or recovering… all doing nothing but all keen to get their gear working again. I thought that a project (The Live Room) would address these issues. So, some time later I applied for a £3000 grant from a local funder to launch The Live Room project... It was rejected. The funder pointed out that my application did not demonstrate the need well enough. So, I emailed Pete T and asked for an endorsement which I could use to reapply. He did better than that… He (via his Double O charity) gave me the £3000 to start it off, stating ‘This is right up my street … a studio in Wirral where nutters can go and get a cuddle and make a lot of noise – it’s the best place on earth!’
To date, Pete has provided extremely generous donations for the recording studio, and the project is complete. 2024 will launch the Live Room Studio as a commercial venture providing free recording for the retired or disadvantaged and very attractive commercial rates for up-and-coming bands.
Thanks also to the UK National Lottery, Audient (console manufacturer), Focusrite (interface manufacturer), and the trustees and members of Liberty Church (my church).
Artwork in the Live Room was donated by UK artist Bob Goldsborough.