Beatles producer George Martin dies

George Martin and Beatles
George MartinGeorge Martin, the producer credited with turning the Beatles into the world’s biggest and most respected rock band, has died. He was 90.

His death leaves alive only two of the five creative forces behind the Beatles’ remarkable string of singles and albums: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Martin frequently was cited as the “fifth Beatle,” an honor he said he didn’t deserve.

Starr tweeted the news of Martin’s death late March 8: “God bless George Martin. … George will be missed.”

In addition to the Beatles, Martin worked with many successful British acts, including Jeff Beck, Elton John, Cilia Black, Wings, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. He reteamed with McCartney on three of his solo albums.

Martin was credited with 23 No. 1 singles in the U.S. and at least 30 in Britain. His reworking of John’s “Candle in the Wind” upon the death of Princess Diana became a worldwide phenomenon and one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Martin’s film scores included “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Live and Let Die,” “The Family Way,” “Pulp,” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey.” With Shirley Bassey he recorded the 007 classic “Goldfinger.”

With his producer son Giles, Martin reimagined the Beatles’ music as mashups for the smash Las Vegas show “Love” (Cirque du Soleil, 2006). He also selected the songs for the Beatles “Anthology” albums of the mid-1990s.

Martin, a classical pianist, worked on almost all of the Beatles’ records, up to “Let it Be.” Also an arranger, he saw his musical contributions to the group’s records grow as they became more sophisticated. He brought a string quartet to “Yesterday”; the symphonic clash to “A Day in the Life”; and a piccolo to “Penny Lane.”

He encouraged the band to work with tape loops and backwards recordings, tricks he’d picked up earlier in his career working with some of Britain’s cutting-edge comedians. The bits of studio wizardry figured in the Beatles’ most psychedelic works.

Martin was the young head of the Parlophone (an EMI label) when Beatles manager Brian Epstein pitched the band in 1962. Though not totally impressed (some reports say he rejected the band at first), Martin wanted to “see what they could do” — especially with a new drummer in place of Pete Best. At a September session, they recorded the originals “P.S. I Love You” and “Love Me Do.”

After limited success with those songs, “Please Please Me” followed. Martin told the lads to speed up the Roy Orbison-inspired number, sung by John Lennon. “You’ve got your first No. 1,” Martin said after the session. The single topped the charts and set the stage for the Beatles’ rise to the top of the music world.

Martin broke with EMI in the mid-1960s, but the Beatles wanted the tall urbane producer to remain with them as an independent.

With McCartney’s “Yesterday,” Martin became more of a collaborator and innovator than editor. “That was when … I started to leave my hallmark on the music, when a style started to emerge which was partly of my making,” Martin wrote in his 1979 autobiography.

Martin was knighted in 1996. He won four Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Upon hearing of the death, British Prime Minister David Cameron called Martin “a giant of music.”

Survivors include Martin’s second wife, Judy, and four children.


  1. Mike Gerrity says:

    Thank-you for making the world a better place in which to listen.

  2. Steve Andrews says:

    One of the best! A fantastic musician and musical genius

  3. Stephen J Huerta says:

    Thank you George Martin, for everything. May you rest in peace now.

  4. William Johnson says:

    Not too many people know George Martin’s true genius in the studio when he used limited recording equipment such as four track machines to produce multitrack sounds. Read his book about the Sgt. Pepper album. Awesome!!!

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