I read the news today, oh boy. Sir George Martin, The Beatles' record producer, passed away at age 90. I wondered, would the Beatles have accomplished so much without him? Sir Paul McCartney paid tribute to Martin, calling him a "true gentleman and like a second father to me." Martin gave them their big break in 1962 when he signed the Beatles to Parlophone/EMI, and he went on to produce the band's 13 albums between March, 1963 and May, 1970.
Martin was a classically trained musician, but was enthralled by the Beatles' creativity. He was much more than a mere overseer, Martin was an active participant with the Beatles. He wrote the string arrangements accompanying Paul McCartney on "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby." Martin composed and orchestrated parts of "A Hard Day's Night," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Yellow Submarine" albums. Martin and the Beatles together were creating new ways of recording music.
I saw Martin at a book signing event at Barnes & Noble five years ago. He was a soft spoken man. I remember the way he delighted the crowd with tales of Beatles sessions. But more than anything else I was taken by his little tidbit about what happened when the Beatles got the munchies in the middle of the night -- they would sometimes eat other studio employees' cookies and write them notes apologizing for the misdeed! Martin struck me as a man who lived exactly the life he wanted and was thankful for it.
Martin worked with Pete Townshend on the musical stage production of "The Who's Tommy," which opened on Broadway in 1993. He also worked with Elton John and produced hit records for Jeff Beck, Sting, Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, America and Paul McCartney.
Martin produced two of the best James Bond themes. The first was "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey in 1964. The second in 1973 was "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney and Wings.
George Martin broke the mold. He set a high standard for rock record producers and there will never be another like him. Goodbye Sir George.