Posted by Administrator on Mar. 9th, 2016
Sir George Martin, the famed Beatles producer who signed the group to a label contract when no one else would and produced virtually all of their songs and introduced many of their arrangements, passed away at the age of 90 on Mar. 9. Known as the "Fifth Beatle," Sir George was the head of EMI's Parlophone Records in the UK which, in its early years, concentrated on jazz and comedy. Sir George was on the lookout for a rock act when he met Beatles manager Brian Epstein in Feb. 1962. At the time, the Beatles were comprised of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and drummer Pete Best, and every other British label had passed on signing the band. After hearing the band's demo made for Decca Records a month earlier, Sir George thought it was "rather unpromising," but detected something special in the harmonies of Lennon and McCartney, and scheduled the group for a recording session at EMI's Abbey Road studios in June. Liking what he heard, he signed them up, but suggested they replace Pete Best in the studio with another drummer, and Ringo Starr came on board. He allowed them to record their own material, including "Love Me Do," which became their first single and peaked at No. 17 on the British charts. For the band's first U.S. single, "Please Please Me," released in Nov. 1962, he convinced the boys to speed up the tempo. It proved to be a smash hit. "Gentlemen, you have just made your first No. 1 record," he memorably told them from the control room. Sir George also served as the Beatles' arranger, and suggested strings be added to "Yesterday," which would become one of the most covered songs of all time, and conducted the string section for "Eleanor Rigby." He played piano on "In My Life" and composed its harpsichord section; was responsible for the breathtaking orchestral windup in "A Day in the Life"; and used backward tapes to help shape the psychedelic elements of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, piecing together shreds of tape at random after throwing them in the air for the the swirly organ on "Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite." In his 1979 autobiography All You Need Is Ears, Sir George recalled how his recording sessions with the Beatles was a "team effort." "Without my instruments and scoring, very many of the records would not have sounded as they do. Whether they would have been any better, I cannot say. They might have been. That is not modesty on my part; it is an attempt to give a factual picture of the relationship." Sir George received an Academy Award nomination for best music, scoring of music, adaptation or treatment for the Beatles' 1964 classic film A Hard Day's Night; arranged the score for their 1968 animated movie Yellow Submarine; and scored, with Paul and Linda McCartney, the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die. In addition to producing other artists including America, Jeff Beck, Cheap Trick, Ella Fitzgerald, Neil Sedaka, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Meat Loaf, Carly Simon, Celine Dion and many others (in total, he was behind a whopping 23 No. 1 singles in the U.S. and 30 in the U.K.), Sir George also worked on such film as Crooks Anonymous (1962), The Family Way (1966) and Pulp (1972). In 2006, Sir George remixed, along with his son Giles Martin, the music for "Love," the Cirque du Soleil production that celebrated Beatles music in conjunction with Apple Corps. It included a new orchestral song, written by Martin, for a solo version of Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." His work with the solo LP's of Paul McCartney included producing his albums Tug of War (1982), Pipes of Peace (1983). He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996 (a year before Paul McCartney received the honor) and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Born on Jan. 3, 1926, in Highbury, London, Sir George received a few piano lessons as a child but mostly learned to play by himself and had "fantasies about being the next Rachmaninoff." He entered the Royal Navy and after leaving the service in 1947, he received a government grant to study music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, a London college, where he learned composition, orchestration and how to play the oboe. He became head of A&R at Parlophone in 1955, working with such major British stars as Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. In 1962, under the pseudonym Ray Cathode, Sir George put out an electronic dance single, "Time Beat," recorded at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which fueled his desire to find a rock 'n' roll group with whom to work. He left EMI in 1965 but continued to work in a freelance capacity, producing the Beatles' final album release, Abbey Road. Along with his longtime engineer Geoff Emerick, Sir George oversaw postproduction on an eight-track analog-mixing desk for platinum-selling Beatles compilations like Live at the BBC and Anthology, which featured unreleased songs "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love." In 1949, Sir George married Sheena Chisholm, and after they divorced, wed Judy Lockhart-Smith, a Parlophone secretary, in 1966. In addition to Judy Martin and his son Giles, survivors include his other children Alexis, Gregory and Lucy. "The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music," Paul McCartney posted on his blog after hearing the news of Sir George's passing, also calling him a "true gentleman" and saying he "was like a second father to me." "God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed xxx," Ringo Starr tweeted on Mar. 9. - Billboard, 3/9/16.