1926 – George Martin, who produced most of the Beatles’ most memorable

The Beatles with George Martin

1926 – George Martin, who produced most of the Beatles’ most memorable recordings, is born in London.

Sir George Henry Martin CBE (3 January 1926) is a British record producer, arranger and composer. He is sometimes referred to as “the Fifth Beatle”—a title that he owes to his work as producer or co-producer of all of The Beatles’ original records as well as playing piano on some of The Beatles tracks—and is considered one of the greatest record producers of all time.

In 1969 he established the Associated Independent Recording (AIR) Studios. Although officially retired, he is still the chairman of the AIR board.

In recognition of his services to the music industry and popular culture, he was made a Knight Bachelor in 1996. He is the father of producer Giles Martin, and actor Gregory Paul Martin.

Early years

When he was six, Martin’s family acquired a piano that sparked his interest in music.

As a child he attended several schools, including a “convent school in Holloway”, St. Joseph’s elementary school in Highgate, and St. Ignatius College in Stamford Hill, to which he won a scholarship.
“     I remember well the very first time I heard a symphony orchestra. I was just in my teens when Sir Adrian Boult brought the BBC Symphony Orchestra to my school for a public concert. It was absolutely magical. Hearing such glorious sounds I found it difficult to connect them with ninety men and women blowing into brass and wooden instruments or scraping away at strings with horsehair bows.     ”

Despite Martin’s continued interest in music, and “fantasies about being the next Rachmaninov”, he did not initially choose music as a career.

The Beatles’ first Parlophone LP – produced by Martin.

Following his graduation, he worked for the BBC’s classical music department, then joined EMI in 1950, as an assistant to Oscar Preuss, the head of EMI’s Parlophone Records from 1950-55. Although having been regarded by EMI as a vital German imprint in the past, it was then seen as a joke and only used for EMI’s insignificant acts.

As a producer Martin recorded the two-man show featuring Michael Flanders and Donald Swann called At the Drop of a Hat, which sold steadily for twenty-five years, although Martin’s breakthrough as a producer came with the Beyond the Fringe show, which starred Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller. Martin’s work transformed the profile of Parlophone from a “sad little company” to a very profitable business.

The Beatles
Martin previewing a song by Lennon and McCartney in 1963.

Martin was contacted by Sid Coleman who told him about Brian Epstein, the manager of a pop group he had met. He thought Martin might be interested in the group, even though they had been turned down by Decca Records among other major British labels. Until that time Martin had had only minor success with pop music, such as “Who Could Be Bluer” by Jerry Lordan, and singles with Shane Fenton. After the telephone call by Coleman, Martin arranged a meeting on 13 February 1962 with Brian Epstein.

After another meeting with Epstein on 9 May at the Abbey Road studios, Martin was impressed with Epstein’s enthusiasm and agreed to sign the unknown Beatles to a recording contract without having met them or seen them play live.

The Beatles auditioned for Martin on 6 June 1962, in studio three at the Abbey Road studios.

The Beatles’ first recording session with Martin was on 4 September, when they recorded “How Do You Do It”, which Martin thought was a sure-fire hit even though Lennon and McCartney hated it.

As arranger
Abbey Road Studios, where Martin recorded Parlophone’s artists.

Martin’s musical expertise helped fill the gaps between The Beatles’ raw talent and the sound they wanted to achieve. Most of The Beatles’ orchestral arrangements and instrumentation (as well as frequent keyboard parts on the early records) were written or performed by Martin in collaboration with the band.

Martin’s distinctive arranging work appears on multiple Beatles’ recordings. For “Eleanor Rigby” he scored and conducted a strings-only accompaniment inspired by Bernard Herrmann. On a Canadian speaking tour in 2007, Martin said his “Eleanor Rigby” score was influenced by Herrmann’s score for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Psycho.

For “Strawberry Fields Forever”, he and Geoff Emerick turned two very different takes into a single master through careful use of vari-speed and editing.

He contributed less-noted but integral parts to other songs, including the piano in “Lovely Rita”,

The first song that Martin did not arrange was “She’s Leaving Home”, as he had a prior engagement to produce a Cilla Black session, so McCartney contacted arranger Mike Leander to do it. Martin was reportedly hurt by this, but still produced the recording and conducted the orchestra himself.

Martin arranged the score for The Beatles’ film Yellow Submarine

The Beatles Anthology

Martin oversaw post-production on The Beatles Anthology (which was originally entitled “The Long and Winding Road”) in 1994 and 1995, working again with recording engineer Geoff Emerick.

Martin stepped down when it came to producing the two new singles reuniting McCartney, Harrison and Starr, who wanted to overdub two old Lennon demos. Martin had suffered a hearing loss, and left the work to writer/producer Jeff Lynne of ELO fame.

Cirque du Soleil and Love

In 2006, Martin and his son, Giles Martin, remixed 80 minutes of Beatle music for the Las Vegas stage performance Love, a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd.

Other artists

Martin has produced recordings for many other artists, including contemporaries of The Beatles, such as Matt Monro, Cilla Black, and Gerry and the Pacemakers, as well as the band America,

Martin also worked with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Gary Glitter. He worked with Glitter before he was famous, and recorded several songs with him in the 1960s under the name of “Paul Raven”. He also produced the 1974 album The Man In The Bowler Hat for the eccentric British folk-rock group Stackridge.

Martin worked with Paul Winter on his (1972) Icarus album, which was recorded in a rented house by the sea in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Winter said that Martin taught him “how to use the studio as a tool”, and allowed him to record the album in a relaxed atmosphere, which was different from the pressurised control in a professional studio.

Associated Independent Recording (AIR)

Within the recording industry, Martin is noted for going independent at a time when many producers were still salaried staff—which he was until The Beatles’ success gave him the leverage to start, in 1969, Associated Independent Recording, and hire out his own services to artists who requested him. This arrangement not only demonstrated how important Martin’s talents were considered to be by his artists, but it allowed him a share in record royalties on his hits.

Music from James Bond series

Martin has also directly and indirectly contributed to the main themes of three films in the James Bond series. Although Martin did not produce the theme for the second Bond film, From Russia With Love, he was responsible for the signing of Matt Monro to EMI just months prior to his recording of the song of the same title.

Martin also produced two of the most well-known James Bond themes. The first was “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey in 1964. Despite producing the film’s theme that became a hit single, Martin did not take part in the movie’s score or the ‘James Bond Theme’ by Monty Norman or John Barry.

In 1972, Martin finally had a crack at composing, arranging and producing the music for the entire film of Live And Let Die. Apart from scoring a successful chart entry for the title song itself (by McCartney), Martin also composed one of the most colourful and funky Bond scores that served as a precursor to the music of 1970s blaxploitation films.

Books and audio retrospective

In 1979, he published a memoir, All You Need is Ears (co-written with Jeremy Hornsby), that described his work with The Beatles and other artists (including Peter Sellers, Sophia Loren, Shirley Bassey, Flanders and Swann, Matt Monro, and Dudley Moore), and gave an informal introduction to the art and science of sound recording. In 1993 Martin published With a Little Help from My Friends: The Making of Sgt Pepper (published in UK as Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt Pepper, co-authored with William Pearson), which also included interview quotations from a 1992 South Bank Show episode discussing the album. Martin also edited a 1983 book called Making Music: The Guide to Writing, Performing and Recording.

In 2001, Martin released Produced by George Martin: 50 Years In Recording, a 6-CD retrospective of his entire studio career, and in 2002, Martin launched Playback, his limited-edition illustrated autobiography, published by Genesis Publications.

Awards and recognition

* Academy Award 1964 – Nomination Scoring of Music (for A Hard Day’s Night (film)) “awardsdatabase.com”.
* Grammy Award 1967 – Best Contemporary Album (as producer of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
* Grammy Award 1967 – Album Of The Year (as producer of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
* Grammy Award 1973 – Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) (as arranger of ‘Live and Let Die’)
* BRIT Awards 1977 – Best British Producer (of the past 25 years)
* BRIT Awards 1984 – Outstanding Contribution To Music
* Grammy Award 1993 – Best Musical Show Album (as producer of ‘The Who’s Tommy’)
* Martin was named the British Phonographic Industry’s “Man of the Year” for 1998.
* He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 15 March 1999 and into the UK Music Hall of Fame on 14 November 2006.
* Martin has also been honoured with a Gold Medal for Services to the Arts from the CISAC (the World Federation of Authors and Composers) and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Film at Belgium’s Flanders Film Festival.
* In November 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by Leeds Metropolitan University
* He was granted his own Coat of Arms in March 2004 by the College of Arms. His shield features three beetles.
* In September 2008, he was awarded the James Joyce Award by the Literary and Historical Society of UCD.

Selected Hit records produced or co-produced by George Martin

Records produced by Martin have achieved 30 #1 singles and 16 #1 albums in the UK – plus 23 #1 singles and 19 #1 albums in North America.

Main article: The Beatles discography
Main article: Paul McCartney discography

* “My Kind of Girl,” Matt Monro (7/31/61, #18)
* “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back,” Charlie Drake (3/17/62, #21)
* “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,” Rolf Harris (7/13/63, #3)
* “Little Children,” Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (6/13/64, #7)
* “Bad to Me,” Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (6/27/64, #9)
* “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” Gerry and the Pacemakers (7/04/64, #4)
* “You’re My World,” Cilla Black (8/01/64, #26)
* “How Do You Do It?,” Gerry and The Pacemakers (9/05/64, #9)
* “I Like It,” Gerry and The Pacemakers (11/07/64, #17)
* “Walk Away,” Matt Monro (1/09/65, #23)
* “I’ll Be There,” Gerry and The Pacemakers (1/30/65, #14)
* “Ferry Across the Mersey,” Gerry and the Pacemakers (3/20/65, #6)
* “Goldfinger,” Shirley Bassey (3/27/65, #8)
* “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Gerry and the Pacemakers (7/03/65, #48)
* “Trains and Boats and Planes,” Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (7/31/65, #47)
* “Alfie,” Cilla Black (9/10/66, #95)
* “Girl on a Swing,” Gerry and The Pacemakers (10/22/66, #28)
* “Tin Man,” America (11/09/74, #4)
* “Lonely People,” America (3/08/75, #5)
* “Sister Golden Hair,” America (6/14/75, #1)
* “Got to Get You into My Life,” Earth, Wind and Fire (9/16/78, #9)
* “Oh! Darling,” Robin Gibb (10/07/78, #15)
* “Say, Say, Say,” Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson (12/10/83, #1)
* “No More Lonely Nights,” Paul McCartney (12/8/84, #6)
* “Candle in the Wind” 1997, Elton John (10/11/97, #1)


* Off the Beatle Track (1964)
* Help! (1965)
* George Martin Instrumentally Salutes The Beatle Girls (1966)
* Yellow Submarine (side one: The Beatles, side two: The George Martin Orchestra) (1969)
* Live and Let Die (producer for Paul McCartney’s song and composer of musical score) (1973)
* In My Life (1998)
* Produced by George Martin (2001)
* The Family Way (2003)

Selected discography (as producer)

Main article: The Beatles discography
Main article: Paul McCartney discography

* Flanders and Swann — At the Drop of a Hat (1960)
* Flanders and Swann — At the Drop of Another Hat (1964)
* Gerry and the Pacemakers — Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965)
* Edwards Hand — Edwards Hand (1969)
* Ringo Starr — Sentimental Journey (1970)
* Paul Winter Consort — Icarus (1972)
* Stackridge — The Man In The Bowler Hat (released as Pinafore Days in the U.S. and Canada) (1974)
* Mahavishnu Orchestra — Apocalypse (1974)
* America — Holiday (1974)
* Jeff Beck — Blow by Blow (1975)
* America — Hearts (1975)
* America — Hideaway (1976)
* Jeff Beck — Wired (1976)
* Jimmy Webb — El Mirage (1977)
* America — Harbor (1977)
* Cheap Trick — All Shook Up (1980)
* UFO — No Place to Run (1980)
* Little River Band — Time Exposure (1981)
* Ultravox — Quartet (1982)
* X Japan/Yoshiki — Eternal Melody (1993)
* Tommy (Original Cast Recording) (1993)
* Celine Dion — Let’s Talk About Love (1997)
* George Martin — In My Life (1998)
* The Beatles — Love (2006)


1. ^ Sir George Martin’s AIR Studios sold by Chrysalis Group and pioneer to Strongroom Recording Studios owner Richard Boote airstudios.com – Retrieved: 3 May 2008
2. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. p13
3. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. p14
4. ^ a b Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. p15
5. ^ A lifelong love affair with the orchestra bbc.co.uk – Retrieved: 21 September 2007
6. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. p17
7. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. p18
8. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp25-28
9. ^ a b Spitz 2005. p296
10. ^ Spitz 2005. p438
11. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp18-25
12. ^ a b George Martin’s Biography musicianguide.com – Retrieved: 23 September 2007
13. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp28-29
14. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. p63
15. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp84-85
16. ^ George Martin (1994). All You Need Is Ears. pp. 85–96, 97–103.
17. ^ Miles 1997 p330-331
18. ^ Spitz 2005. p297
19. ^ Spitz 2005. pp297-298
20. ^ Spitz 2005. p301
21. ^ a b Miles 1997 p90
22. ^ Spitz 2005. p312
23. ^ Spitz 2005. p414
24. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp120-123
25. ^ Spitz 2005. pp318-319
26. ^ Lewisohn 1990. p7
27. ^ Spitz 2005. p353
28. ^ Spitz 2005. p360
29. ^ “Congratulations, gentlemen, you’ve just made your first number one.” bbc.co.uk – Retrieved: 21 September 2007.
30. ^ Spitz 2005. p364
31. ^ a b Miles 1997 p205
32. ^ “What about a classical string quartet?” bbc.co.uk – Retrieved: 21 September 2007
33. ^ Miles 1997 p206
34. ^ a b Lewisohn 1990. p93
35. ^ MacDonald 1994. p163
36. ^ Lewisohn 1990. pp90-91
37. ^ Miles 1997 p357
38. ^ MacDonald 1994. p216
39. ^ Lewisohn 1990. p65
40. ^ Miles 1997 p326-328
41. ^ MacDonald 1994. pp189-190
42. ^ Lewisohn 1990. p99
43. ^ Miles 1997 p318
44. ^ Lewisohn 1990. p144
45. ^ Miles 1997 p317
46. ^ Miles 1997 p491
47. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp226-230
48. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp231-232
49. ^ a b c ”The Beatles Anthology” DVD 2003 (Special Features—Compiling The Anthology Albums— 0:00:10) George Martin talking about The Anthology project.
50. ^ Martin’s hearing loss 4hearingloss.com – Retrieved: 23 September 2007
51. ^ “handed over further duties to ELO supremo Jeff Lynne” icons.org.uk – Retrieved: 23 September 2007
52. ^ Love unveils new angle on Beatles bbc.co.uk – Retrieved: 21 September 2007
53. ^ Legendary producer returns to Abbey Road bbc.co.uk – Retrieved: 21 September 2007
54. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp246-247
55. ^ “Eternal Melody release information”. cdjapan.co.jp. – Retrieved: 21 September 2007
56. ^ “Article on Hideto Matsumoto’s death”. nytimes.com. – Retrieved: 21 September 2007
57. ^ Stackridge web page stackridge.net – Retrieved on 19 September 2007
58. ^ Paul Winter comments about Martin and recording northwestern.edu – Retrieved 8 November 2007
59. ^ Martin (All You Need Is Ears) 1994. pp179-185
60. ^ Air studios web page airstudios.com – Retrieved on 19 September 2007
61. ^ Rock and roll hall of fame:George Martin rockhall.com
62. ^ Andrews Sisters, Ann Shelton, Matt Monro – bottom of page www.eastlondonhistory.com – last accessed 29 December 2007
63. ^ Tracklisting for George Martin compilation on his official site www.georgemartin.co.uk – last accessed 29 December 2007
64. ^ MFiles.co.uk Official Site www.mfiles.co.uk – last accessed 29 December 2007
65. ^ George Martin (1994). With a Little Help from My Friends.
66. ^ Summer Of Love genesis-publications.com – Retrieved: 23 September 2007
67. ^ Playback – An Illustrated Memoir genesis-publications.com – Retrieved: 23 September 2007
68. ^ a b c d “GRAMMY.com”. Retrieved on 2007-02-18.
69. ^ Brit Awards bbc.co.uk – Retrieved: 21 September 2007
70. ^ “The BRIT Awards 1984”. Retrieved on 2007-02-18.
71. ^ “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum”. Retrieved on 2007-02-18.
72. ^ “Leeds Metropolitan University Winter Graduation 2006”. Retrieved on 2007-02-18.
73. ^ “College of Arms”. Retrieved on 2007-03-16.
74. ^ “Irish Independent”.
75. ^ George Martin’s success wma.com/sir – Retrieved: 19 September 2007

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply