The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present),
Lot 86TP Y
The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present),
Sold for £ 112,500 (US$ 141,321) inc. premium

Lot Details
Rock & Pop
The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present), The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present),
The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present),
the Island Records Helios section was used by a wealth of musicians including; Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and The Wailers, Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens, Eric Clapton, Sly Stone, Jimmy Cliff, Harry Nilsson, Jeff Beck, Humble Pie, Mott The Hoople, David Bowie, Free, The Rolling Stones, Mud, Steve Winwood, and the Alvin Lee section used by; George Harrison, Ron Wood, Steve Winwood, Tim Hinckley, Boz Burrel, Jim Capaldi, Mick Fleetwood and Joe Brown. The HeliosCentric console in its composition as it is now was used by; Paul Weller, Supergrass, Sia, Keane, Athlete, The Feeling, KT Tunstall, Turin Brakes, Squeeze, Paolo Nutini, Dido, Gary Barlow, David Gray, Royworld, Toploader, Marti Pellow and the Pet Shop Boys - among others.

The HeliosCentric console comprising; 38 channels of Helios Type '69 Mic / EQ / 24 buss routing / 4 echo sends / 2 fold-back sends / switchable separate pre and post EQ insert sends and returns, additional 6 mono line inputs; 24 channel monitoring with 6 group outs / 4 mono headphone Sends; 8 X onboard signal processors comprising 4 mono A&D 760 compressors, 4 mono Helios 5056 EQ's; bantam patchbay, 2 separate power supplies and rear console speaker rests. Housed in a wrap-around frame made from plywood and blockboard with mahogany veneer and green leatherette. Racking to the left wing for 6U of outboard equipment. The console disassembles into 3 sections. (Speakers in the illustrated image not included). Accompanied by letters concerning the provenance; one from the vendor (Heidi Miller), one from Producer / Engineer Phill Brown, one from Producer / Engineer Andy Green, and one from singer-songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley (from Keane). Together with two current technical appraisals by Helios Technical Expert Mick McKenna stating the console is in working order and PDF technical diagrams,

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    The HeliosCentric Helios console was created in 1996 by artists Elvis Costello and Chris Difford (Squeeze) after consultation from the founder of Helios Electronics Ltd, Richard (Dick) Swettenham.

    Swettenham, a former employee of Abbey Road Studios, left in 1957 to become Technical Director for Olympic Studios, Carlton Street, London. When Olympic was forced to move to the now legendary Barnes premises in 1964, Swettenham and chief engineer Keith Grant, collaborated to design a transistorised desk to rival the popular Abbey Road consoles of the day. The result was the Olympic console completed in 1965.

    An immediate success and used by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Cream, and Led Zeppelin, it caught the attention of Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. Keen to create a studio facility to develop his artists, Blackwell commissioned Swettenham to create two bespoke mixing consoles for Island's newly purchased Basing Street Premises. In 1969 Swettenham left Olympic Studios and set-up 'Helios Electronics', delivering the Island Studio 2 console to Basing Street in late 1969. Helios Consoles soon became the desk of choice for many of the successful artists of the day, other Helios clients included; Ramport Studios by The Who, Apple Studios by The Beatles, as well as Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and The Rolling Stones.

    The Basing Street Studio 2 Helios was a configuration of 20 input, 8 buss, 16 channel monitoring, each channel being fitted with Type '69 Mic / EQ modules. Arguably the best designed by Helios Electronics and renowned for its musicality and warmth. Housed in Studio 2 the console was used extensively between 1970-1974. As Engineer and Producer Glynn Johns notes, Basing Street Studios was one of the first studios in London to acquire a 16-track machine, and the Helios console proved to be a great combination. Additionally, Engineer and Producer Phill Brown who worked with the Helios console in an immense capacity, speaks of his interactions with it in his biography 'Are we Still Rolling?' After getting the job in July 1970 Brown worked on twelve albums and at least eight singles in his first year at Island Basing Street. One of his first projects was for David Bowie, tracking and mixing his single "Holy Holy". However, his next project was to be one of the most exhilarating, that being for Led Zeppelin's 'Album IV', when he worked mainly on "Four Sticks" and their world-renowned single "Stairway To Heaven" - often referred to as the greatest rock anthem of all time. Phill Brown has spoken of how he tried out flutes on the introduction with John Paul Jones, overdubbing guitar ideas with Jimmy Page, and endlessly trying out different styles, sounds and effects on the console.

    It is also important to note that Stephen Stills self titled first solo album which was recorded at Island Records Studio 2 and was released in November 1970 is "the only album to which both Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix supplied guitar work." Jimi Hendrix did this on the track "Old Times, Good Times" (March 15th 1970) and Eric Clapton on "Go Back Home". Not only this, but Cass Elliott (Mama Cass) Graham Nash, Booker T and Ringo Starr also feature on this album. As such, Stills dedicated the album to Jimi Hendrix who died two months prior to the album's release.

    By 1973 Bob Marley & The Wailers were in England with 10 tracks for their second album "Burnin" that needed overdubs and mixing. Following on from their first album 'Catch A Fire' which was recorded on this console at Island Studios, they set out to mix their second album at Island and consequently recorded and mixed the unforgettable "I Shot The Sheriff" and "Get Up, Stand Up" on the Helios. Phill Brown's tracklist for the console continues; Harry Nilsson – "Without You", Eric Clapton - "After Midnight", Jimmy Cliff - "Many Rivers to Cross", Jeff Beck - "Rough and Ready", The Band - "Stagefright", Third World War – "3rd World War", Cat Stevens – "Peace Train", Mott The Hoople – "Wildfire", Sly Stone – the beginnings of "There's A Riot Going On", Free – "All Right Now", The Rolling Stones – the orchestral session for "Angie", to name but a few.

    In 1974 the console was decommissioned and remained in storage until 1996.

    Alvin Lee shot to fame as the guitarist and vocalist for the band '10 Years After' following their performance at Woodstock Festival in 1969. In 1972 Alvin commissioned a bespoke Helios console to create his own Space Studios at his home Hook End Manor in Oxfordshire. Installed in 1973, the configuration was an 18 input / 8 buss / 16 channel monitoring console featuring Helios Type '69 Mic / EQ modules. Alvin recorded with many artists during this time, most notably the album 'On The Road To Freedom' which was a collaboration with 'The Thames Valley Gang' and comprised of artists; George Harrison, Ron Wood, Joe Brown, Steve Winwood, Tim Hinckley, Boz Burrel, Jim Capaldi and Mick Fleetwood. In 1979, Alvin sold Hook End Manor, but held onto his Helios console and transferred it to Wheeler End Studios where it was in use until the early 90's.

    The birth of the HeliosCentric console occurred when Chris Difford of 'Squeeze' teamed up with friend and collaborator Elvis Costello, acquired both the Island Basing Street 2 and Alvin Lee consoles from storage in 1996. Their intention was to set-up their own studio, HeliosCentric. Difford wanted to build a recording studio 'which would be for everyone to use – a chapel of music in the most idyllic spot', for which his partner at the time Heidi Miller became studio manager for. As Jeff Touzeau writes in his book 'Making Tracks: Unique recording Studio Environments', 'HeliosCentric was originally conceived as a studio that would serve the needs of 'Squeeze', Chris Difford being one of the group's principal writers. It was also going to be used as an in-house recording vehicle for Elvis Costello's Demon Records'. With this concept in mind, and after consulting original Helios creator Dick Swettenham, the consoles were carefully amalgamated. Work was completed in 1998, making this console arguably one the first, last and largest consoles Swettenham ever conceived. Touzeau continues 'Once it was built, HeliosCentric's reputation as a sonic hideaway quickly spread beyond the quaint farm in Rye in which it was situated.'

    The console has been in service since its re-birth and has a lengthy hit-list of great artists from the past 20 years including; Paul Weller - album titled 'Heliocentric', Supergrass who recorded their whole album 'Life On Other Planets' (and includes the track "Grace" which was written about the current vendor Heidi Miller and Chris Difford's eldest daughter), KT Tunstall for "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree", The Feeling for their singles "Sewn" and "Never Be Lonely", Athlete for their album 'Tourist', Paolo Nutini for "Rewind", Sia, Cage The Elephant, Olly Murs, Turin Brakes, Dido, Gary Barlow, Scouting For Girls (receiving several Brit Awards and nominations), Pet Shop Boys, Marti Pellow – among others. In addition to these, English rock band Keane recorded their masterpiece 'Hopes and Fears' entirely on this console for Island Records (with the help of producer Andy Green who recorded their first and second albums). This album includes the ballad "Somewhere Only We know" which became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, leading to Keane receiving two Brit Awards for Best Breakthrough Act, and Best Album in 2005, while also earning a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist - consequently, their album went on to become the second highest-selling record of the year in the UK in 2005.

    Many have said that the Helios console encompasses the classic British Rock and Roll sound that you cannot find on other consoles. Its immense hit-list of musicians over the decades is a testament to this sound and its musicality.

    It's surreal to think I spent so many hours with my feet up on such an incredible piece of music history. The sound of the Helios desk is a big part of the first two Keane albums. It has this beautiful blend of clarity and crunchiness that brings a huge injection of energy to songs like This Is The Last Time and Is It Any Wonder? It's an inspiration machine, because when you record something and it instantly sounds exciting, that in turn immediately sparks off more energy and more ideas. So it's the perfect desk for capturing the sound of a live band. It's a privilege to have recorded through it.

    Tim Rice-Oxley, from Keane.
    October 2018



    Literature:
    Brown, Phill, 'Are We Still Rolling', (Tape Op Books), pages 48-109.
    Difford, Chris, 'Some Fantastic Place', (Orion), page 197.
    Johns, Glyn, 'Sound Man', (Plume Books), page 71.
    Touzeau, Jeff, 'Making Tracks: Unique Recording Environments' (A.Schiffer), pages 97-107.
    Digby-Smith, Richard 'One, Two, Three, Four: The Life and Times of a Recording Engineer', to be published 28th May 2019.

    Technical disclaimer
    Electronic or mechanical parts may not operate or may not comply with current statutory requirements. You should not assume that electrical items designed to operate on main electricity will be suitable for connection to the main electricity supply and you should obtain a report from a qualified electrician on their status before doing so. If you yourself do not have the expertise regarding this lot, you should consult someone who does to advise you. We can also suggest experts relating to this specific console.

    Please note: This item is a large item and will be going to our offsite storage facility. The item will be disassembled immediately after the sale, ready for transfer.
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