Beatles Producer George Martin Dies

Sir George Martin, producer and “fifth member” of The Beatles, has died at the age of 90.


Late Tuesday night, Ringo Starr tweeted news of Martin’s death.

Martin can be credited with much of the success of the Beatles throughout their career. While leading EMI’s Parlophone Records, he was looking for a rock act to sign and diversify the company’s offerings, which had previously consisted primarily of jazz and comedy. He signed the band when no other record company would and, even after finding them lacking in promise at first, he gave them a deal. He had suggested replacing Pete Best on drums, chose not to promote any of them as the frontman and allowed them to record their own songs.

As a very active producer, Martin played a major role in formulating the Beatles’ sound. While recording their first U.S. single “Please Please Me,” he suggested they up the tempo. He added the string arrangements to “Yesterday,” which went on to become the most-covered song of all time. He was responsible for the orchestration in “A Day in the Life.” He personally played the piano part in “In My Life” and composed the harpsichord solo. He conducted the string arrangement in “Eleanor Rigby,” and he added the backwards tapes to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the psychedelic element.

Martin was nominated for three Academy Awards for the musical arrangement in A Hard Day’s Night. He is responsible for a staggering 23 No. 1 hits in the U.S. and 30 in the U.K.

In addition to the Beatles, Martin produced records for Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Mahavishnu Orchestra, America, Jeff Beck, Cheap Trick, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Kenny Rogers, Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Webb, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Meat Loaf, Carly Simon, Celine Dion, Kate Bush and many others.

George Martin was born in London on Jan. 3, 1926. As a child, he took a few piano lessons but is mostly self-taught. After leaving the Royal Navy in 1947, he attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London on a government grant, where he learned composition, orchestration and how to play the oboe. He first started working for Parlophone as a producer of classical music. In 1955, he became the head of A&R and gained success producing comedy records. He left EMI in 1965 but continued to produce on a freelance basis, including the production of the Beatles’ Abbey Road. He later worked on a couple of Paul McCartney’s solo albums in the 1980s.

McCartney posted a tribute to Martin on his Facebook page.

Martin is survived by his four children, Giles, Alexis, Gregory and Lucy.

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