News broke today that legendary producer Sir George Martin has passed away aged 90. Martin was best known for being the long-time producer of the Beatles, a contribution that earned him the title ‘The Fifth Beatle’. As the well-wishes and memorials begin to pour in, we’re looking back at 7 times George Martin proved why he is one of the greats.
Following his passing, we look back on the 7 times that Sir George Martin proved he was one of the greatest figures in the recording industry.
A comedy producer
While he was still the wunderkind boss at Parlophone Records, George Martin made a name for himself recording comedy acts. Parlophone were unable to compete with the bigger labels, which led to Sir George carving out a niche in jazz recordings and comedy. Spike Milligan, the Goon Show comedy troupe and satirists Flanders & Swann were amongst the many comedians he worked with. It was his work with comedy records that deeply impressed the Beatles when they first met, initiating a warm rapport and setting in stone a fruitful working relationship.
The Fifth Beatle
Martin’s extensive work with the Fab Four rightfully earned him this title despite what John Lennon has said in post-Beatle life. That includes producing all of their work aside from Let It Be, writing the instrumental score for the Yellow Submarine film and arranging almost all of the string and horn arrangements featured in their music.
Inventing the 8-track
Back in the old days recording music was capturing the essence of a live performance and committing that to tape. As the Beatles developed the album beyond that into high art with Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Martin had to keep up with the band’s massive vision. To capture all those complex sounds, he essentially linked two 4-track recorders together to create the first 8-track. Thomas Edison, eat your heart out.
A gun producer
Outside of his work with the Beatles Martin worked with many other artists over a careers that spanned 50 years. That includes, and isn’t limited to Jeff Beck, Dire Straits, Cheap Trick, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Celine Dion and Elton John, which includes his mega hit Candle in the Wind 1997.
Associated Independent Recording (AIR)
Following the success he found with the Beatles, Martin opened his own recording studio in 1965, a time when most producers were salaried staff. Using his position Martin was able to leverage AIR’s standing, and today remains a pinnacle in the recording business.
The name’s Martin, George Martin
Amongst his various work composing for film, Martin also worked on the music for several James Bond films. He produced two theme songs; Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey in 1964 and Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings in 1973.
A knight in shining armour
Wouldn’t you know it, Martin’s contributions to the music industry and popular culture earned him a knighthood in 1996.
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