Sir George Martin, the legendary rock’n’roll producer who signed the Beatles, passed away Tuesday at the age of 90.
CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reports.
Legendary Beatles producer George Martin has died at the age of 90Sir George Martin, the legendary rock'n'roll producer who signed the Beatles, passed away Tuesday at the age of 90.
Knighted in 1996 by Queen Elizabeth II, Martin shaped the texture and sound of pop music as much as any producer or musician in the 20th century.
After he first met The Beatles in late 1962, Martin recognized a genius and an affability in their personalities and musicianship quickly. Their relationship lasted from their first single and hit, “Love Me Do,” through to their dissolution in 1970.
Martin had no specific acumen for pop music at that time, having mostly recorded orchestras, jazz, and comedy records. His greatest success before the Beatles came with putting the comic talents of Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore on record. He was head of artists and repertoire at Parlophone Records, an off-shoot subsidiary of EMI, the massive British recording company.
Left to his own devices and hungry for new talent, Martin was ready when his most-famous act arrived. The Beatles were ready to record after lighting up concert halls across England and Germany; their manager, Brian Epstein, needed a smart man to harness their live energy on record and illustrate how to put three strong musicians and three strong vocalists together.
God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed xxx ?✌️??☮
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) March 9, 2016
His first stroke of genius was to demand The Beatles replace their drummer, Pete Best, due to his indelicate backbeat. The Beatles then hired their friend and fellow-circuit musician Ringo Starr. Once three strong musicians, they became the most-famous quartet in pop music history.
Martin trained as a classical pianist from boyhood. He later trained as a pilot in the Royal Navy, missing action in World War II by a single year.
Outside of Epstein and The Beatles themselves, Martin was the first to recognize the band’s potential, though he wasn’t overblown.
Martin was underwhelmed by their musicianship at first. What drew him in were the harmonies of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. The band held their first recording session for Martin at 3 Abbey Road. Only seven years later, The Beatles would name an album after that street and make it the most famous recording studio of all time.
His approach was genial rather than the rigid style of most producers of that era. He was as gifted at the control panel as he was in his approach to talent; The band warmed to him quickly.
Martin pushed the band into complex arrangements that stood starkly opposite the trend of the time. It was the constant pushing of superior material and arrangements that allowed the band to evolve song after song, album after album, defining all pop music throughout the lifespan of the band. From his first album, 1963’s “Please Please Me” to his last, “Abbey Road” in 1969, The Beatles were simultaneously the biggest-selling and most-respected act in all of music.
By the time “Abbey Road” was made, the band was mostly through with each other, and the tapes for their last record were shelved. Equally-renowned producer Phil Spector took the tapes at the request of Lennon and produced “Let It Be,” which would become their last document of new material.
After The Beatles and after his legacy was well-enshrined, Martin produced numerous soundtracks for films, orchestras, and other pop and rock acts such as Jeff Beck, America, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Celine Dion, as well as many of the former Beatles’ solo efforts.
His final production was Elton John’s single “Candle in the Wind” in 1997, recorded as a tribute to the Princess Diana who died in August of that year. It quickly became the greatest-selling pop song of all time.
For his work in music, he earned countless Grammy awards, a 1999 enshrinement in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, and an Academy Award. The Beatles have sold over a billion records since 1962 and continue to appear on sales charts.
Sir George Martin was a musical genius who engineered the soundtrack for the lives of millions of fans. His impact on music is incalculable and remains as important and vital as it did when he first met John, Paul, George, and Ringo.