"George Martin, the "Fifth Beatle" and British treasure who signed the Fab Four to a label contract when no one else would, produced virtually all their songs and introduced lavish arrangements into "Yesterday" and "A Day in the Life," has died. He was 90.
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr shared the news on Twitter, writing "Peace and love... George will be missed." A Universal Music Group spokesperson confirmed Martin's death, though details are not yet clear.
The producer, executive, arranger, musician and British knight was behind a whopping 23 No. 1 singles in the U.S. and 30 in the U.K.
As head of EMI’s Parlophone Records, which then concentrated on jazz and comedy, Martin was on the lookout for a rock act when he met Beatles manager Brian Epstein in February 1962. Every other British label had passed on signing the foursome — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best...."
Many people will choose to remember The Fifth Beatle today by listening to Strawberry Fields Forever and Yesterday--songs where his genius touch as an arranger can be most clearly felt. Me, I chose to listen to In My Life just after I read the news. His sped-up piano solo really makes the song.
I’m so sad to hear the news of the passing of dear George Martin. I have so many wonderful memories of this great man that will be with me forever. He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of The Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family. 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 favourite 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.
I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such a keen sense of humour, who had the ability to poke fun at himself. Even when he was Knighted by the Queen there was never the slightest trace of snobbery about him.
My family and I, to whom he was a dear friend, will miss him greatly and send our love to his wife Judy and their kids Giles and Lucy, and the grandkids.
The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music.
Try doing comparisons with George Martin from before 2005 to after 2005. I believe he was replaced somewhere around then.
Here is in 2004 at the Silver Clef awards:
And here he is in 2006 at the premiere of LOVE:
Speaking of LOVE, replacing him in 2005 would have complicated production of that album, don't you think? Since I believe there exists photographs and footage of he and his son working on the album, and there an interviews from time period where Giles talks about the great time he had bonding with his father over the Beatles music, it seems to me very unlikely that he was replaced in 2005.
The only think I can recall to suggest that George Martin knew something and could have been seen by TPTB as a threat was that article that quoted him as saying that there was a "code" hidden on LOVE (which Iamaphoney would claim to have solved and won his yellow 'LOVE' car as a prize). But that was reported on only one website, and an 80-year old half-deaf man hiding secret messages and then blabbing about it to a random site on the internet sounds just as crazy in retrospect.