Beatles producer George Martin dies

Sir George Martin, producer of The Beatles, has died at the age of 90.

Sir George died on the night of 8 March 2016. His death was announced by Ringo Starr on Twitter:

CA Management, who represented Martin, also released a statement:

We can confirm that Sir George Martin passed away peacefully at home yesterday evening, Tuesday March 8th. The family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and messages of support.

Sir George started producing records for EMI’s Parlophone label in 1950. He was noted for his comedy recordings with the likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Beyond the Fringe and got his first Number 1 with The Temperance Seven in 1961. He signed The Beatles in 1962 and, with the band, helped revolutionise the art of popular music recording.

In a career that spanned seven decades he was recognised 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.

Paul McCartney posted a longer tribute on his own website:

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.

God bless you George and all who sail in you!


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George Martin joined EMI in 1950 as an assistant to Parlophone head Oscar Preuss. After taking over the label upon Preuss’s retirement in 1955, Martin specialised in classical, Baroque, regional music, comedy and original cast recordings.

In early 1962 Martin released a single, Time Beat, recorded at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It was an early electronic dance tune, not dissimilar to some of the works of Joe Meek, and gave an early indication of his experimental nature.

Later that year he signed The Beatles to Parlophone. The group had previously been turned down by several record labels. At the time the producer and label were best known for comedy records by the likes of Peter Sellers, Bernard Cribbins and Peter Cook.

The Beatles’ partnership with George Martin was hugely successful. Martin steered the group to worldwide success, with an astounding run of hit records, and produced almost all their albums and singles. Along with Beatles manager Brian Epstein, if anyone could legitimately make a claim to be the ‘fifth Beatle’, it was Martin.

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After his success with The Beatles, George Martin became one of the world’s most in-demand record producers. Other artists which benefited from his magic touch were Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers. In 1963 alone his productions spent 32 weeks at number one in the UK.

After The Beatles’ split in 1970 Martin produced a range of other artists including Elton John, Jeff Beck, Cheap Trick, Celine Dion and Neil Sedaka. He also produced two Bond themes: Live And Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings, and Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey.

George Martin’s career spanned seven decades. He won six Grammy Awards, two Ivor Novello Awards, and was Oscar-nominated for his score for the film A Hard Day’s Night.

Candle In The Wind 1997, Elton John’s tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, was produced by Martin. It sold 37 million copies, becoming the best-selling single of all time.

George Martin remains the world’s most successful record producer, with 30 number one singles in the US and UK. He also wrote three books, and was knighted by the Queen in 1996.

George Martin is survived by his wife Judy and his four children.

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Last updated: 2 June 2020
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