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Sir George Martin in Las Vegas in 2006
|Birth name||George Henry Martin|
|Born||3 January 1926|
|Origin||Highbury, London, England|
|Died||8 March 2016 (aged 90)|
|Occupation(s)||Record producer, arranger, composer|
|Instruments||Oboe, piano, keyboards|
|Associated acts||The Beatles, Wings, EL&P, America, Cilla Black|
Sir George Henry Martin (3 January 1926 – 8 March 2016) was a British record producer, composer and musical arranger. His most famous work was his recordings with The Beatles. These were made at Abbey Road Studios during the 1960s.
Early life and career
Martin grew up playing piano with only a few music lessons. He began to compose music in his teens. Martin played with his own band called the Four Tune-Tellers. He dreamed of one day making soundtrack music for movies.
After serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II, Martin went to music school. After he graduated, he worked for the BBC in London. He began working for EMI in 1950. Martin became an assistant at Parlophone Records, a small record label. Parlophone mostly recorded classical music and original cast recordings of popular stage shows and plays.
Martin later became the chief of Parlophone Records. He was also its staff producer. Martin was in charge of recording sessions and chose songs for Parlophone artists to record. He made comedy records (often working with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan) along with his usual jobs, to help promote the label. When rock and roll became popular in the mid-1950s, Martin began looking for rock groups or artists to join Parlophone. He recorded several such artists, but none of their records became big hits.
In 1962, Beatles manager Brian Epstein brought Martin a demo (demonstration record) of his band. Epstein had been trying for months to get the band a recording contract. Martin liked what he heard. He saw that the young band were willing to try different things, and gave them an audition (a studio tryout). All the Beatles passed their audition, except for their drummer, Pete Best. Martin was not happy with the skills Best showed. He wanted to replace Best on their recordings. When the band found out, they fired Best, replacing him with Ringo Starr. Starr had played with them before when Best could not be with them to play. Martin used a studio drummer on their first single, "Love Me Do". He did this because there was no time to audition Starr before the record had to be made, but he never did so again.
With Starr as their drummer, and Martin as their producer (who sometimes joined them in playing, to give the records a bigger sound), the Beatles became the most popular act in the history of show business. While Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote most of the band's songs, they were musically untrained, as Martin had been earlier. Martin helped develop their musical ideas. He helped the band learn to talk to other musicians about the sounds they wanted to make, and added a classical touch to many of their songs. His work with them made Martin famous. He was able to leave EMI to become a "producer for hire". He started his own company, called Associated Independent Recording (AIR), with some other producers.
When the Beatles began to break up in 1969, Martin felt the tension between the band's members. He was sometimes criticized for not being able to "fix things", or solve their problems. He began turning down sessions with the band. He let the recording engineer or the members themselves do his job. Martin returned to help make their last album (titled Abbey Road after the location of the studio), after all the Beatles promised to work with him "like the old days", and let Martin take charge of the sessions once more.
After The Beatles
Paul McCartney, the most "conventional" (normal) Beatle, worked with Martin several times after the Beatles ended in 1970. John Lennon counted on Martin to turn his sometimes "way-out" ideas into finished records, but he did not always like the way Martin worked, and mostly produced his own solo recordings. George Harrison, the youngest Beatle, found many of his songs and ideas rejected by Martin. Martin later said "I was always rather beastly to George," in trying to make more hit records. Harrison also produced (or co-produced) most of his own solo work. He even built his own recording studio after years of making records at Abbey Road. Martin praised Ringo Starr's "super-steady beat", and the sound his drums gave the Beatles records, but each later worked with other people.
Even years after they broke up, Martin still worked with and for the Beatles and the music they had made together. He remixed many of their recordings for re-issues and compilation records. He made several records of his own with classical and orchestral versions of Beatles tunes, and was the music producer for Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a fantasy movie based on their songs, which starred the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton.
Besides the Beatles, Martin worked with other recording artists, including Shirley Bassey, Bernard Cribbins, America, Kenny Rogers, the trio EL&P, Dudley Moore, and Little River Band. He wrote a book, All You Need is Ears, that told his life story and explained how many of his most famous recordings were made. During the 1990s, Martin was made a knight by the British government, for his work and his role in popular music.
- Andy Greene (9 March 2016). "Beatles Producer George Martin Dead at 90". Rolling Stone.com. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/beatles-producer-george-martin-dead-at-90-20160309. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "George Martin Dead: Beatles' Producer and Arranger Was 90". Hollywood Reporter.com. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/obit-george-martin-dead-at-90-727807. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "Ringo Starr". Twitter.com. 8 March 2016. https://twitter.com/ringostarrmusic/status/707420462620381184. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- George Martin – Management biography
- George Martin on IMDb
- College of Arms. The Arms of Sir George Martin, Kt., C.B.E.
- JazzWax.com: Four-part interview by Marc Myers for the Wall Street Journal
- "Produced by George Martin" DVD review
- Interview at Hit Channel
- George Martin interview on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs, August 6, 1982