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Beatles record producer George Martin has died at the age of 90. (And I didn’t even know he was sick!) Below is a link to the obituary in The Guardian; we’ll add other notable ones as they appear–please suggest additions in the comments.
The New York Times.
And yet another link to the Beatles story is lost — remorselessly, inevitably experience is becoming history.
So sad to see George go. It’s awful watching my heroes pass into legend. Very happy to see that he died peacefully at home, too. I wish 90 everyone could have 90 years and a peaceful death.
Continuing the subject of the Beatles And Class… All these years I thought George Martin was an upperclass gentleman. But I just saw an interview where he said he consciously changed his style of speaking away from cockney towards a more posh style. He modeled his voice on the BBC announcers he heard in his youth.
Martin’s father was a carpenter (?) I think, and he grew up in a house with no indoor plumbing. He could have fooled me. He certainly reinvented himself.
Sad to see the people directly involved with the Beatles passing away. As you say, experience is gradually becoming history.
He was a class act. Here’s a nice tribute from SPIN magazine.
Here is Paul’s statement. Very touching
I’m so sad to hear the news of the passing of dear George Martin. I have so many wonderful memories of this great man that will be with me forever. He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of The Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family. If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George. From the day that he gave The Beatles our first recording contract, to the last time I saw him, he was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.
It’s hard to choose favourite memories of my time with George, there are so many but one that comes to mind was the time I brought the song ‘Yesterday’ to a recording session and the guys in the band suggested that I sang it solo and accompany myself on guitar. After I had done this George Martin said to me, “Paul I have an idea of putting a string quartet on the record”. I said, “Oh no George, we are a rock and roll band and I don’t think it’s a good idea”. With the gentle bedside manner of a great producer he said to me, “Let us try it and if it doesn’t work we won’t use it and we’ll go with your solo version”. I agreed to this and went round to his house the next day to work on the arrangement.
He took my chords that I showed him and spread the notes out across the piano, putting the cello in the low octave and the first violin in a high octave and gave me my first lesson in how strings were voiced for a quartet. When we recorded the string quartet at Abbey Road, it was so thrilling to know his idea was so correct that I went round telling people about it for weeks. His idea obviously worked because the song subsequently became one of the most recorded songs ever with versions by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and thousands more.
This is just one of the many memories I have of George who went on to help me with arrangements on ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Live and Let Die’ and many other songs of mine.
I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such a keen sense of humour, who had the ability to poke fun at himself. Even when he was Knighted by the Queen there was never the slightest trace of snobbery about him.
My family and I, to whom he was a dear friend, will miss him greatly and send our love to his wife Judy and their kids Giles and Lucy, and the grandkids.
The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music.
God bless you George and all who sail in you!
Obviously the Beatles were fortunate to have George Martin in the studio. Imagine how the hacks at Pye Records would have made them sound. Or Joe Meek. Or some real show biz producer who had no idea “what the kids liked” but took inspiration from the string-drenched Bobby Vee and Frankie Avalon U.S. product, and then soaked them in early-60s reverb.
One of the last records Eddie Cochran made was a cover of “Hallelujah I Love Her So” and it’s a great performance. But then when Eddie heard the finished record he was dismayed the producer overdubbed Hollywood-style strings for a more commercial sound. No one expected Eddie to have any say on how his record was arranged.
I’ve always admired George Martin for respecting the integrity of what the Beatles were doing. That music wasn’t his generation. He was a classical & jazz guy (a man of his time) but he displayed remarkable taste and sensitivity. He didn’t try to mold the Beatles into something they weren’t. Instead, he brought out the best in them.
Does anyone remember his book “All You Need Is Ears”?
I read “Summer of Love” and “All You Need is Ears” and enjoyed both immensely. It’s amusing how many times Martin mentions in “All You Need is Ears” that he loathes Punk music; it certainly dates the book. He also repeatedly defends the creation of music for commercial purposes (which could be seen as a riposte to John’s dismissal of such music in “Lennon Remembers”).
This is really sad. The Beatles’ luck in finding Martin—at the last minute, when they were one rejection away from striking out at apparently every record label in Britain—cannot be overstated. George Martin was a rare soul who had an open mind to both music and attitudes not his own, a willingness to ask, “why not?”, the ability to translate impulses of two untrained geniuses into music that continues to surprise, and humility in a world of very, very big egos. Listen to George’s arrangement for Strawberry Fields Forever, for my money one of, if not the, crowning achievements in his collaboration with the band. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAeyV_MRxtA
” . . . remorselessly, inevitably, experience is becoming history.” Well said, Mike. This news makes me feel terribly sad. But Sir George — who richly deserved that title — lived a life to be proud of, and a life that made us all inestimably richer. What a legacy to leave.
Rest in peace, Sir George. Thank you for your outstanding contributions to and participation in historic, groundbreaking music which has given me moments of connection and happiness.
Excellent obituary from Vulture:
Link to George Martin tribute:
Someone digitally combined George Martin’s And I Love Her HDN movie soundtrack instrumental with Paul’s Beatle version vocal. I think it’s lovely.
I remember back in 1964, we had the HDN soundtrack. Beatle songs on one side and Martin’s instrumentals on the other. I loved the melodies so much that I listened to Martin’s tracks as much as I played the Beatles.
Same with the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. I loved Martin’s orchestrations. I played that side of the record as much as the other.