A Melancholy Happy Trails to Sir George Martin, who died yesterday at the age of 90. It was Martin, a record producer in London specializing in both classical music and comedy recordings at EMI Parlophone Records, who in 1962 to take a chance and signed a Liverpool rock and roll band, a band that had been turned down by two other record labels, to a recording contract. That band was, of course, The Beatles, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Martin served as producer on all but one of The Beatles albums, and continued to serve on other Beatles-related projects (the "Anthology" TV documentaries and album, the Cirque du Soleil show "Love" in Las Vegas, for example) for the rest of his life. In a statement released today to note Martin's passing, Paul McCartney stated that "if anyone deserves the title of 'fifth Beatle', it's George Martin."
This paragraph from Britain's The Guardian newspaper closed its obituary to Martin this way:
And sometimes it seemed like George Martin really didn’t want to escape the Beatles’ shadow. Certainly he seemed to come to terms with the Beatles’ legacy far quicker than the Beatles themselves did, to realise that what had happened in the studios at Abbey Road between 1962 and 1969 was a once-in-a-lifetime deal, something that was never going to be repeated, or eclipsed or even equaled by anything that happened subsequently. While Paul McCartney was refusing to perform Beatles songs live, and John Lennon was lashing out in interviews, constantly trying to deflate the band’s myth, Martin was pragmatically noting that neither of them were going to make solo records as good as the records they’d made together. He worked intermittently with McCartney – most famously arranging the high-drama orchestral break of 1973’s Live and Let Die – produced the soundtrack to the disastrous 1978 film adaptation of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and British classical composer John Rutter’s 1979 Beatles Concerto. He oversaw the post-production of the music on the mid-90s Beatles’ Anthology compilations, but curiously pleaded failing hearing when it came to producing two “new” Beatles using old Lennon demos. He remained unfailingly modest about his role in the band’s success: “I can’t imagine anyone who’s been luckier than I have,” he said towards the end of his life, perhaps safe in the knowledge that he wasn’t the only one blessed by immense good fortune the day the Beatles walked into his studio.
RIP George Martin.