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Abbey Road Studios declared national landmark

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman take part in a recording at Abbey Road in September.
Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman take part in a recording at Abbey Road in September.
  • Abbey Road Studios given Grade II listed building status for "outstanding cultural interest"
  • The studios' owner, music label EMI says it's holding talks to revitalize them
  • Speculation was rife that the studios made famous by Beatles would be sold
  • Much of Britain's best known music of 20 century has been recorded there

London, England (CNN) -- The iconic Abbey Road Studios made famous by the Beatles are being declared a national historic landmark, British Culture Minister Margaret Hodge announced Tuesday.

"My favorite song of all time, 'If I fell' by the Beatles, was recorded there in 1964, and to have played a part in preserving this world-famous venue is as exciting for me as hearing that song for the first time. Well, almost!" Hodge said in a statement.

"Whether your tastes are for classical, hard rock or pop music, one of your favourites is more than likely to have recorded at Abbey Road," she added.

The studios became an international cultural touchstone when the Beatles were photographed crossing the road there for the cover of their album "Abbey Road."

But it's not only where the Beatles recorded "All You Need is Love" and numerous other songs, but where much of Britain's best known music of the 20th century was laid down.

Video: Abbey Road for sale?

Rock stars Pink Floyd and Cliff Richard, composer Sir Edward Elgar, and the movie soundtracks for "Star Wars" and the "Harry Potter" films were recorded there.

Hodge declared the site in west London a Grade II listed building based on its "outstanding cultural interest." The classification means that "although changes to the interior are not prohibited, care must be taken to ensure that any alterations with respect to its character and interest are fully considered," the ministry said.

There was intense speculation last week that the studios were for sale, but the owner shot down the notion on Sunday.

The music label that owns them is seeking a partner to help pay for upgrades, according to Terra Firma, which controls record label EMI, the owner of the recording studios.

"EMI confirms that it is holding preliminary discussions for the revitalization of Abbey Road with interested and appropriate third parties," Terra Firma said Sunday.

But that does not mean the studios are for sale, it added.

"In mid-2009, we did receive an offer to buy Abbey Road for in excess of £30 million (currently about $46 million), but this was rejected since we believe that Abbey Road should remain in EMI's ownership," the music company said in a statement.

The company said Sunday it supported the listing of the building as a historic landmark, before the culture ministry's announcement.

Terra Firma bought EMI in 2007.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer of "Phantom of the Opera" and "Cats" and one of Britain's richest men, is "very interested" in buying the studios, a representative said Friday.

"He first recorded there in 1967 with Tim Rice. Andrew has since recorded most of his musicals there," said the representative, Jenni Pain.

"He thinks it is vital that the studios are saved for the future of the music industry in the UK. Abbey Road has such great facilities, with three major recording studios, and Andrew has probably brought more musicians to record there than anyone else, because it has the capacity to record large orchestral productions."

CNN's Per Nyberg and Morgan Neill contributed to this report.