Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sir George Martin, 1926-2016

My friend Peter Carlin on George Martin:

The world turns but it's still sad to hear of the death of Beatles' producer George Martin.

You cannot overstate his importance in the Beatles' career; they could never have achieved what they did, certainly not in the eerily perfect way they did it, without him.

Start with what he didn't do. He didn't pull out John or Paul to be the star (Paul McCartney and the Beatles, that was producer 101 in those days, make one a star, make the rest expendable). He didn't make them release "How Do You Do It" as their second single. He was right about the song's hit potential -- Gerry and the Pacemakers took it to #1 -- but the Beatles were righter about "Please Please Me," which became an even bigger hit. He didn't strong-arm John and Paul to write hits. He never resisted their need to evolve. The gap between "Love Me Do" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" was four years.

What he did do: whatever they could dream he would find a way to make it real. No synthesizers, no digital nothing, just analog tape and four tracks and galaxies of imagination. A chicken that turns into a guitar? No problem. An exploding hurdy-gurdy? Easily done. Backwards recording? the sound of a million monks chanting from a mountaintop? Oh we finished that before lunch.

Not bad for an oboist.


Anonymous said...

Sir George was the sixties Sam Phillips.

Capt. Al

A walk in the woods said...

Oh no! This is the first I've heard. George could be perceived by some as the stiff upper lip to the Beatles' tousle-haired madness, but like you said, they were a partnership. I love the examples you gave of the give and take and trust.

I am sorry to hear of his passing. The Beatles world just got a little smaller.

William Repsher said...

The things that stood out about The Beatles for me, as a kid and even now, was their production values, and how much farther ahead of everyone else they seemed. Maybe not so much on the first few albums, but I guess the first sign that a lot more was going on came with "Yesterday" ... and then Rubber Soul and Revolver, where they entered new realms. I remember my older brother buying the Red and Blue greatest hits albums when they came out and immediately being drawn to the Blue/older tracks album because the production was virtually no different from most of what I was hearing on the radio in the mid-70's.

That was all George Martin. The Beatles had a real producer who knew how to shape those arrangements and sounds. Most of the other British bands didn't come anywhere near. I can still hear how The Who and The Kinks lagged a bit behind as the 60's went on simply because their records didn't have the same punch The Beatles had. The Stones came closest, but they were clearly one step behind (until "Jumping Jack Flash"/Beggars Banquet, where they started innovating a new sound). Martin set the pace for a generation with his production values -- he may not have written or performed the songs, but he was crucial in everything The Beatles did.

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

We mourn the passing of a cultural giant. It's been said before, but bears repeating...The Beatles were a stunning,amazing confluence of people and events. Had they not found each other, each would still have doubtlessly been very, very successful. But together, they took their art to a different level. Thank you, George.


buzzbabyjesus said...

He signed the Beatles after they'd been turned down by everyone else. If he hadn't we might have never heard them at all.

peabody nobis said...

Thank You, Mr. Martin. The world owes you a great debt.

dogbreath said...

Sad news indeed but what a legacy he leaves behind - The Beatles at the top of the list of so many other artists. Not too long ago I saw a fine documentary on the man; perhaps it'll be repeated now as it's worth seeing again. Our local radio station played the whole of "Sgt Pepper" last night which was a nice little tribute. RIP Sir George.


Guess what five songs I'm listening to right now.

stivseed said...

"The gap between "Love Me Do" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" was four years. " Still digesting that one. We`ll never see the likes of he, or them, again.

Chris Collins said...

Incredibly well said