Wednesday, 9 March 2016

RIP, Sir George Martin



Record producer Sir George Martin, known as the "Fifth Beatle", has died aged 90, Ringo Starr says on Twitter. In a career spanning five decades, Sir George signed the Beatles and produced more than 700 records - with huge chart success. He also worked with artists including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Shirley Bassey and Cilla Black. Beatles drummer Starr tweeted: "Thank you for all your love and kindness George peace and love." More tributes will no doubt be posted over at TheBeatles.com.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting George Martin in his office at Air Studios in London, back in the summer of 1982. He was a very nice gentleman who took the time to greet two Norwegian Beatles fans who just turned up unexpectedly and answer their questions. Rest in peace, Sir George.

Paul McCartney has released this statement:
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!

Paul


2 comments:

DirectorDonP said...

Vale George. Producer of some of the greatest popular music of all time - and the REAL fifth Beatle. A sad day. Was lucky enough to shake his hand and have two Beatle related items signed by him at the Melbourne Arts Centre when he conducted for the highly acclaimed production All You Need Is Beatles (1998). Apart from the obvious talent, what great integrity he brought to the Beatle brand...Now there are only two left that can say that they were a part of virtually every Beatle recording session (sort of!) No doubt about it - he was the right man for the job :)

James Peet said...

Aside from his almost faultless steering the course of the Beatles and their recorded output, and the many other people who he produced, Sir George did an awful lot for Monserrat, both prior to and after the awful disaster that befell it.

I always liked his wit, there was a sincerity in his love of the Beatles as real people and he had a twinkle in his eye which was very endearing.

Farewell, Sir George Martin, thank you for the music and the memories.

Condolences to his wife and family.