A Tribute to Sir George Martin

George MartinNo one has any better claim to the title of Fifth Beatle than Sir George Martin.

Without him, there would have been no Fab Four, at least as we know it.

So here is a collection of information about him, including a look at some of his recording projects outside the Beatles (because everyone knows what those are, right?).

Sir George, thank you!

George Martin and Abbey Road

George Martin first joined the Abbey Road studios in 1950. He had hopes of being a classical pianist, but abandoned those plans soon after to try and help build up the Parlophone label. It was shortly after joining the label that he met the woman soon to be his wife, the former Judith Lockhart-Smith, who was working as a secretary there.

Despite the label's original emphasis on classical music, Martin cultivated work with comedians, first Peter Ustinov, and later, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. He branched off into jazz bands. One of the singers he recorded during this period was probably his earliest link to the Fab Four. He was young Dick James, who recorded the theme from "Robin Hood", which became a British hit in 1956. James later headed the publishing company that would handle the Beatles' early hits.

In 1960, a record by Martin discovery the Temperance Seven, "You're Driving Me Crazy," became the first record Martin produced to hit number one in Britain. The Seven gave him a second top 10 record the same year.

Other artists Martin worked with in these early years: Beyond the Fringe (Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett), Matt Monro, Judy Garland, Tommy Steele and Stan Getz.

It was in 1962 that Martin first met the Beatles. After nearly every major record company in Britain had turned them down, Martin auditioned the Beatles' demo record and signed the group to the label.

His role changed over the years. In the early days, he was in charge, though the Beatles were headstrong even then. Witness their insistence that "Please Please Me" be released over "How Do You Do It," an argument they won.

Later, after the group retired from concert performances, he helped craft some of their ideas into reality. When John produced two finished versions of "Strawberry Fields Forever" at different tempos, it was George Martin who helped combine the two into its released version.

After Martin's success with the Beatles, Brian Epstein brought him other groups Epstein managed for Martin to work with. They included Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.

In August, 1965, Martin broke from EMI and started his own recording company, AIR (Associated Independent Recording) Studios. Many of the artists who'd worked for him at EMI stayed with him through the move to AIR.

In late 1966, EMI told Martin and the Beatles they needed a new single for Christmas. Martin offered two tracks, "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever," being readied for their next album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." To his (and everyone else's) amazement, the record was stalled in the No. 2 position by, of all things, Englebert Humperdinck's "Release Me." Martin later termed they're having to play this unsuccessful trump card a mistake.

In recent years, Martin has supervised the transfer of "The Beatles: 1962-66" and "The Beatles: 1967-70" to CD and produced the three double CDs associated with the "Anthology series." (He has said the "Anthology" will be his last Beatles work.) He has produced many recording artists, founded his own studios and is still producing, arranging, and conducting in the U.K., Europe and all over the world.

Just call him Sir George Martin...Beatles producer knighted: (6/15/96) Beatles producer George Martin has been knighted. He was one of 1,041 notables from the entertainment, sporting, cultural and political fields named on Queen Elizabeth's birthday honours list. The list was drawn up by Prime Minister John Major's office on behalf of the queen. In an interview on Sky TV, Martin said: "My first reaction when I heard about it was one of astonishment. I had no idea...." Martin added that he was, of course, very pleased saying that he was "knocked out. The 70-year-old Sir George, as he now becomes, produced the Beatles' records from the first hit, "Love Me Do," in 1962, to the "Beatles Anthology," over the past few months. None of the three surviving Beatles has received a knighthood, though Paul McCartney had been mentioned as a possible candidate. The queen honored the quartet in 1965 as MBEs, or Members of the Order of British Empire.

-- Steve Marinucci

(Brian Southall's book, "Abbey Road," and George Martin's "All You Need Is Ears" were used as sources for some of the information above. Thanks also to Allan Kozinn for his comments.)

Some of the artists Martin has produced:

Albums by George Martin:

Books by George Martin:

Sir George Martin Named as 1999 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee; - Legendary Producer Selected in Non-Performer Category -

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., Nov. 16 -- Legendary record producer Sir George Martin has been named one of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's 1999 inductees, it was announced on Tuesday, November 10. The induction ceremony will take place at New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 15, 1999. Martin, who signed the Beatles to the Parlephone label in 1962 and produced all but one of the group's timeless albums, will join the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in its non-performer category.

The announcement comes on the heels of MCA Records' October 20 North American release of 'In My Life,' Martin's final studio project, which marks the close of his 48-year producing career. Joined by a who's-who of stars from song and screen, including Celine Dion, Jim Carrey, Jeff Beck, Robin Williams and Bobby McFerrin, Phil Collins, Sean Connery, Vanessa Mae, Goldie Hawn, and Billy Connolly, Martin produced, orchestrated and performed classic Beatles songs for the album. The CD, released internationally in March by The Echo Label, has been certified gold in the UK and Australia. Martin, upon learning of his selection for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, said, 'I am very honored to be placed in a galaxy alongside many of my own heroes.'

George Martin began his musical odyssey as a classical music producer while engaged at the Parlephone label in the early 1950's, taking the helm of the label in 1955. Martin then made a name for himself producing comedy and jazz artists, including comedians Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore, and jazz greats Cleo Laine and Stan Getz. Martin met the Beatles in 1962 and became their A&R man and producer, signing them to Parlophone.

Following the Beatles' break-up in 1970, Martin continued his unparalleled career as producer, working with such artists as America, Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Elton John. Martin's most recent work with Elton John was producing and writing the score for 'Candle In The Wind '97,' John's tribute to Princess Diana.

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