George Martin, the man best known as “The Fifth Beatle”, who is responsible for some of The Beatles biggest hits, passed away at the age of 90 yesterday. The beloved music producer’s death was first revealed by The Beatles‘ drummer Ringo Starr‘s Twitter account, and later confirmed by several other outlets including CNN, who announced the producer died “peacefully in his home” in England. Here’s what the producer’s manager, Adam Sharp, had to say in a statement.
“In a career that spanned seven decades he was recognized globally as one of music’s most creative talents and a gentleman to the end. The family ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”
George Martin was born to a working-class family in 1926, and in his 20s, he began his career in music by producing a number of classical music productions, taking over EMI’s Parlophone music label at the age of 29. He first met The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein in 1962, and while he wasn’t thoroughly impressed with their music, he gave them a studio audition. He enjoyed their music except for the work of drummer Pete Best, which lead the group to replace him with Ringo Starr. Shortly thereafter, the group recorded their first single with Parlophone, “Love Me Do,” which was followed up by “Please Please Me,” which launched them to stardom in England.
George Martin went on to produce all of The Beatles‘ studio albums, which spanned 23 #1 hits in the U.S. and 30 in the U.K. He also produced the soundtracks for The Beatles movies Yellow Submarine, Help! and A Hard Days’ Night, and he went on to work with the group’s individual members following their breakup in 1970. The Beatles‘ Paul McCartney released a statement on his official website PaulMcCartney.com about George Martin‘s death, which you can read in full below.
“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 favorite 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…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!”
George Martin also produced hit songs from artists like Jeff Beck, Elton John, Ella Fitzgerald, Gerry and The Pacemakers, America, Jimmy Webb, Kenny Rogers, Cheap Trick, UFO and Celine Dion. He also composed a number of movie scores, including the James Bond adventure Live and Let Die. He also produced the soundtrack’s title track by Paul McCartney and Wings, which was a Best Original Song Oscar nominee. He was also a creative force behind Beatles Love, a widely popular Cirque du Soleil show staged by Julie Taymor, which has been a Las Vegas hit for more than a decade. Take a look at Ringo Starr‘s tweet below honoring the late great George Martin.
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