George Martin

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George Martin, 2006

Sir George Henry Martin , CBE (born  January 3, 1926 in Holloway , now: London Borough of Islington , England , †  March 8, 2016 in Swindon , Wiltshire ), was one of the most important British music producers . He significantly influenced the career of the Beatles and created trend-setting recordings for them and other bands. That is why he is one of the people who have been awarded the status of “ fifth Beatle ” by the media .


In 1942 he formed a school dance band he named George Martin & The Four Tune Tellers . Between 1943 and 1947 he was an aircraft observer with the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy , then from September 1947 he studied composition and classical music orchestration for three years at the famous Guildhall School of Music and Drama . First he went to the BBC music archive in early 1950 , in October 1950 Martin came to the record company EMI and was hired there as the assistant to the label boss Oscar Preuss at the record label Parlophone .

First tasks

Parlophone was actually a classic label and was considered insignificant alongside its sister labels HMV , Columbia and Regal Zonophone, but under Martin it initially developed into an important jazz and comedy label. Martin's first independent production was with Humphrey Lytteltons jazz band, which recorded the title Trouble in Mind / Panama Rag (Parlophone # R3346) on October 25, 1950 . This was followed by Get Out of Here And Go On Home on November 22, 1950 , and on January 24, 1951, Trog's Blues and Wolverine Blues were recorded. La Muse Legere / Barwick Green (# R3418) was created for Sidney Torch & Orchestra in August 1951 . Then in 1951 Martin produced classical recordings for the London Baroque Ensemble (conductor: Karl Haas) with Mozart compositions, released on an LP in October 1952. This followed in August 1952 for Eve Boswell Sugar Bush / I'm Yours (# R3561 ), in December 1952 the single I Went to Your Wedding / I Will Never Change was released by Dick James . James would later become one of the most influential and successful British music publishers and entrepreneurs who managed the Beatles' compositions and discovered Elton John . George Martin's first production to hit the UK charts was Pickin 'A Chicken, again by Eve Boswell, made in October 1955 and awarded ninth place in the UK charts.

Peter Ustinov - Mock Mozart

Comedy recordings developed as a further important branch of the Parlophone catalog, which were largely produced by Martin. The first notable title was the satire record Phoney Folk Lore / Mock Mozart by Peter Ustinov , made in December 1952. In addition, there was film comedian Peter Sellers , who on November 10, 1953 brought out the single Jakka And The Flying Saucers under the direction of Martin . Spike Milligan's first single You Gotta Go Oww! was created on November 19, 1956. These were not measurable hit parades, only the humor record Goodness, Gracious Me with Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren , published in November 1960, brought it to fourth place.

More jazz bands

Johnny Dankworth - Experiments With Mice

Martin also produced the jazz band Johnny Dankworth Seven, whose first parlophone single, Honeysuckle Rose, was written on February 10, 1953. This and other jazz bands such as Freddy Randalls Band (starting from April 1951), Jack Parnells Band (from July 1951), Sidney Torch & His Orchestra (from August 1951) or Joe Daniels & His Jazz Group (from December 1952) followed productions for other jazz bands. As a result, the repertoire of the Parlophone label gradually transformed into a jazz label, while the importance of classical music steadily declined. George Martin has now produced all of the label's jazz bands without exception. It took a large number of productions until the title Experiments With Mice for Johnny Dankworth was created on May 10, 1956 , which was rewarded with a first hit parade - seventh place. In the meantime, when his predecessor Oscar Preuss retired in April 1955, Martin was appointed head of Parlophone Records , making him the youngest label boss in the EMI group.

By the time Lyttelton's Saturday Jump was recorded on December 9, 1958, the British record companies had already begun their search for British rock 'n' roll artists. Because between July 1957 and November 1958 the American hits dominated the British charts so strongly that a British hit could take over the top position in the charts for just two weeks. The in-house, unspoken competition was won by producer colleague Norrie Paramor , because with Cliff Richard and his companion band Shadows extraordinary hit suppliers had been discovered for the sister label Columbia . It was also Paramor who, with Eddie Calvert's Oh, Mein Papa, brought the EMI group its first top hit and million seller in 1954 . George Martin's first top hit was You're Driving Me Crazy , published on May 30, 1961 by the Temperance Seven in vaudeville style, which EMI initially met with great skepticism. Martin's producer colleague Walter J. Ridley was also ahead of the curve at sister label HMV when he recorded the first single for Johnny Kidd & the Pirates on April 18, 1959, Please Don't Touch . Martin signed Matt Monro , the British answer to Frank Sinatra , in March 1960 .

In July 1961, George Martin wrote an article about the duties of a music producer and label boss for the EMI in-house newspaper under the title "Well, it's really a pretty weird job". "I have to find the right artist, get him the right song material, arrange the right musical accompaniment, take him to the recording studio and produce a hit".

The Beatles are discovered

On February 13 and May 9, 1962, George Martin received Brian Epstein , the manager of the Beatles, who had previously been rejected by Decca , Pye , Philips , Oriole and even EMI (subsidiary labels Columbia and HMV ). Martin listened to the rejected Decca recordings: “[…] pretty lousy, badly balanced, no good songs by a very unpolished group. [...] But something sounded interesting, "Martin let out. On June 4, 1962, Martin sent a record deal, which he himself signed on June 6, 1962.

The Beatles - Love Me Do
EMI Recording Studios, 1969

On June 6, 1962, the most dramatic event in George Martin's career and the turning point in previous pop music took place. In the Abbey Road Studios , the Beatles first appeared on screen tests, four mushroom-headed young men from Liverpool, was not immediately convinced of their musical and vocal abilities Martin. Only her humor and her personality seemed to impress him. The then drummer of the group Pete Best he found too weak, and he informed Brian Epstein about not wanting to use Best in studio recordings. "Pete Best was not the accentuated and sustained drummer that this style of music required". On September 4, 1962, the Beatles met again for the recording session for their first single Love Me Do in Abbey Road. Ringo Starr had now replaced Pete Best on drums . Not satisfied with the result of the recordings, Martin scheduled another meeting for September 11, 1962. In Martin's absence, his representative Ron Richards alternatively used studio drummer Andy White for this session . When the single Love Me Do / PS I Love You hit the market on October 5, 1962, it jumped to 17th place on the British charts. The rumors never stopped that Beatles manager Brian Epstein had ordered 10,000 copies as the owner of his record shop to improve chart placement.

The Beatles' career, unique in pop music history, now began and made its producer George Martin almost as famous as one of the few producers. While the Beatles' first albums were relatively unspectacular - at least in terms of the studio technology and instrumentation used - George Martin fundamentally revolutionized the recording technology and sound design on albums such as Rubber Soul , Revolver , Sgt.Pepper 's Lonely Hearts Club Band or Abbey Road . He advanced from a mere producer to an arranger and a source of ideas. The late change to the four-track technique - for Abbey Road standards - was due to him, as was the string accompaniment on Yesterday . The first LP Please Please Me was preceded by a productive studio work, because on February 11, 1963 a total of ten titles were created between 10:30 am and 11 pm. Here Martin used overdubbing for the first time on A Taste of Honey by recording Paul McCartney's voice twice and copying it over each other. But Martin was also instrumental: he played the piano with Misery and the celesta with Baby, It's You .

Martin's sound design and artistic interventions have significantly shaped the recordings that followed. For When I Get Home (recorded on June 3, 1964; Album A Hard Day's Night ) overdubbing McCartney gave voice especially at the high passages more expressive, innovative overdubbing guitar riffs was in rock music I Feel Fine (October 18, 1964 ) in connection with feedback . George Martin increasingly used his previous knowledge of classical music as an arranger in the Beatles productions. The Beatles' sound became more and more complex and arrangements evolved experimentally. The previous musical highlight was the production of Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever . While in Penny Lane (December 29, 1966) a Bb piccolo trumpet (played by Dave Mason) and a trumpet solo by Philip Jones, whose model can be found in Bach , there is Strawberry Fields Forever (November 24 1966) from the mixing of two takes at different speeds, on which timpani, bongos, alto trumpet, flutes and cellos can be heard. The beginnings of a twelve-tone row go back to Martin's idea ; however, a perfect application is neither audible in the song, nor is it demonstrated by the piano score.

With the LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band , apostrophized as the first concept album , the temporary artistic climax was achieved. It also went beyond the time and financial framework of the production standards that had been customary until then. In the period between December 6, 1966 and April 2, 1967, thirteen pieces were made, for which a production time of over 700 hours (mostly at night) was required four to six times a week on 129 recording days. The production costs of 165,000 euros (25,000 pounds ) today  were extremely high for the conditions at the time, and the use of 40 orchestral musicians and wind sections had to be financed from this. A Day in the Life (January 19, 1967) presented eight-track technology for the first time in Great Britain using two synchronously switched four-track tape machines. The LP ends as unusual as its entire content: a 15 kHz high- frequency tone can be heard in the run-out groove  , which should irritate dogs. The endless groove , which is repeated on manual turntables until they are switched off, contains laughing noises.

The starting point for Martin's extensive production work was the basic idea of ​​new songs on the acoustic guitar for the Beatles. Then Martin helped with the design of the introduction, the placement of the instrument solo and decided on the end and the total playing time of the piece. Until their dissolution in 1970, George Martin produced every album and all but one recording of the Beatles' singles, whereby he contributed significantly to their success. (The album Let It Be , ultimately produced by Phil Spector , was only released after the breakup.)

Martin produces other beat groups

In the wake of the Beatles, bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer , Gerry & the Pacemakers , Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas or the pop singer Cilla Black received a record deal and were also produced by Martin. Other similarities with the Beatles were the affiliation to the "Mersey-Sound" and the manager Brian Epstein. In 1963 alone, George Martin's productions, which advanced to first rank, remained there for a total of 37 weeks. With the first single How Do You Do It ?, recorded on January 22nd, 1963 Gerry & The Pacemakers made their first top listing before the Beatles. Composer Mitch Murray was hired to write another song. The result was I Like It , which replaced the Beatles title From Me to You from the top of the charts, so that between April 11, 1963 and July 11, 1963, number one on the British charts was occupied with productions by George Martin. Gerry & The Pacemakers achieved the third top rating with the classic You'll Never Walk Alone , recorded on July 2, 1963 , which the football fans of Liverpool FC chose to be the club song on Anfield Road there.

When, on March 21, 1963, Billy J. Kramer & Dakotas had Martin produce the Beatles composition Do You Want to Know a Secret, Martin was convinced of the compositional skills of his most important group. The group, also from Liverpool, instantly came second in the British charts. The Beatles composition Bad to Me , produced on June 27, 1963, was able to reach first place in the hit parade and million-seller status with the Dakotas. The same pattern of success was used with the Fourmost. They played the Lennon / McCartney composition Hello Little Girl on July 3, 1963 under the supervision of George Martin and brought it to ninth place. The best placement with sixth place for them was A Little Loving, produced on March 23, 1964 (not written by the Beatles). Martin also knew how to stage the powerful-voiced Cilla Black . Their second single Anyone Who Had a Heart , a year earlier already a million-seller with Dionne Warwick in the USA , was created on January 15, 1964, reached first place in the British charts and also made it to million-seller status. She succeeded with the title You're My World, recorded on April 3, 1964 , which goes back to an Italian original from 1963.

At that time Martin contributed to the EMI group assuming a leading role as the home of the “Mersey sound” worldwide. With its records, EMI reached the US market so well that the term “ British Invasion ” was coined here. Either the artists of a single EMI subsidiary label took turns at the top of the charts, or that happened mutually through the sister labels.

Own recording studios are created

The now renowned producer George Martin received a fixed salary as an employee, but no royalties on record sales. Dissatisfied that he was not adequately involved in the growing success of his productions, he quit Parlophone in mid-1964 and left the record company in August 1965 to set up AIR (Associated Independent Recording) in London, initially an independent production company, with a loan of £ 5,000  without their own recording studio. This followed in October 1970, and the first recordings were made there on October 9, 1970 for Cilla Black's LP You're My World . This was followed by the album A Lot of Bottle by the Climax Blues Band , which was produced by Chris Thomas, who switched to AIR in March 1968.

With George Martin left other important creative people from EMI: his longtime assistant Ron Richards, Columbia's producer John Burgess and Peter Sullivan, who was assistant producer Wally Ridley for a long time at HMV. In addition to the producers, many of the performers went to be produced by AIR, but kept their record deals with the EMI labels. In addition to the Beatles, this included Manfred Mann , the Hollies , P. J. Proby and Cilla Black. Therefore, EMI felt compelled to sign a contract with AIR. After that, AIR received seven percent of the retail price from EMI for a record it produced. In the case of artists under contract with EMI, AIR also received a production royalty of two percent of the retail price. That was not the case for the Beatles: Here EMI was only willing to pay half a percent of the retail price for British sales, in the USA only five percent of the costs of the press factories. Despite its continued success, AIR did not become wealthy as a result.

In 1979, Martin opened a branch of AIR Studios on the Caribbean island of Montserrat . The first in the studios was the Climax Blues Band with the LP Flying the Flag (released December 1980). Martin traveled to some productions specially, such as the Little River Band's Time Exposure album (August 1981). The Police recorded the million-seller Every Breath You Take and other titles for the LP Synchronicity between December 1982 and February 1983. Between November 1984 and March a. a. for Dire Straits the album Brothers in Arms , the Rolling Stones recorded their album Steel Wheels between March 29 and June 29, 1989. A few months later, the studio was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo on September 17, 1989 . The total destruction of the studio and a large part of the island resulted in the eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano on June 25, 1997.

In December 1992, a new studio complex with excellent acoustics was opened in the converted Victorian church Lyndhurst Hall (built in 1880) in the London borough of Hampstead . The first recording session was the film score Son of the Pink Panther, recorded by Henry Mancini in January 1993 . In March 1993 Chrysalis Records and the Japanese electronics group Pioneer took over the shares in AIR in a joint venture . In 22 years, AIR has produced 22 British number one hits.

Later productions

George Martin coped with the breakup of the Beatles seamlessly. After 3 January 1970, the last recording session for I Me Mine had taken place, he was already producing from 14 January 1970 Ex-Beatle Ringo Starr 's solo album Sentimental Journey , April 14, 1970, he was with the jazz musician Stan Getz in Studio and produced the LP Marrakesh Express for him . On October 19, 1972, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and his Wings got the producers for Live and Let Die , the theme song for the James Bond film of the same name , for which Martin composed, arranged and produced the music for the entire film. On April 17, 1974 he produced the LP Holiday for the Trio America , in January 1975 they secured his services for their LP Hearts , a total of seven albums were created under his direction for America. In March 1974 he produced the LP Apocalypse for the Mahavishnu Orchestra , Jimmy Webb brought him for the LP El Mirage in September 1976. In October 1974 guitarist Jeff Beck used Martin's expertise for the first of his instrumental LPs Blow by Blow (two albums ), UFO picked him up for the LP No Place to Run (December 1979).

George Martin, 2007

Neil Sedaka commissioned Martin for the LP A Song (1980), for Ultravox he produced the LP Quartet (AIR Montserrat; released October 1982). It was Cheap Trick's turn in February 1980 with the album All Shook Up . On February 27, 1981 he produced the anti- racist duet title Ebony and Ivory for Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder , which could not appear until March 1982 after legal disagreements between the two artists' record companies. Follow-up orders for Martin were the McCartney LPs Tug of War (released in April 1982) and Pipes of Peace (October 1983). Also the duet between Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson , Say Say Say (October 3, 1983) was produced by Martin between May and September 1981 in Abbey Road. Country singer Kenny Rogers had Martin produce the LP The Heart of the Matter , released in December 1985 .

In 1997 Martin produced his thirtieth top hit with Candle in the Wind , Elton John's homage to the recently deceased Lady Diana . With almost 37 million copies sold worldwide, the single is one of the most successful record productions of all time. A few weeks later, on September 15, 1997, he organized a major benefit gala with Music for Montserrat for the location of his studio that had been destroyed by a volcanic eruption. George Martin can be seen as the presenter in the DVD recording of the concert. On March 23, 1998, Martin's last work was published with the CD In My Life , for which he invited renowned interpreters to the AIR Lyndhurst studios to perform Beatles compositions. Performers include Celine Dion , Sean Connery , Jeff Beck , Jim Carrey and Robin Williams . On July 17, 2001, the six-part compilation CD Produced by George Martin with the most important titles produced by him within 48 years was released. On November 17, 2006, the album Love , produced by him and his son Giles, was released , presenting Beatles pieces in a new sound.

Statistics and awards

Martin is registered as a producer of 4836 titles, the total number should be well over 5000. In total, he was responsible for producing 30 number one hits. Together with Paul McCartney and others, he founded the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in January 1996 , to which he was also associated as patron . It includes a recording studio named after George Martin.

He received the first of a total of three Grammy Awards in 1967. Ten years later, the BRIT Award for the best British producer of the past 25 years followed, in 1984 for outstanding contributions to music.

In 1988 he became Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). On June 15, 1996, he was of Elizabeth II. In the knighthood raised and let the College of Arms register a coat of arms. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999, and into the UK Music Hall of Fame on November 14, 2006.


  • A Hard Day's Night: Instrumental Versions of the Motion Picture Score (1964)
  • Off the Beatle Track (1964)
  • George Martin Scores Instrumental Versions of the Hits (1965)
  • Help! (1965)
  • George Martin Instrumentally Salutes The Beatle Girls (1966)
  • The Family Way (1967)
  • London By George (1968)
  • Yellow Submarine (Page 1: The Beatles , Page 2: The George Martin Orchestra, 1969)
  • Live and Let Die (soundtrack for the film of the same name , 1973)
  • Beatles to Bond and Bach (1978)
  • In My Life (1998, UK Gold Record)
  • Produced by George Martin (2001)
  • Completely Cilla: 1963–1973 (all 139 recordings by Cilla Black that were produced by George Martin, 2012)

Film music (selection)

  • 1964: Yeah Yeah Yeah (A Hard Day's Night)
  • 1972: See Malta and Die (Pulp)
  • 1973: James Bond 007 - Live and Let Die
  • 1973: The Optimists (The Optimists of nine Elms)
  • 1981: The whole freeway is upside down (Honky Tonk Freeway)


  • George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: All You Need is Ears . New York 1994
  • Summer of Love - How Sgt. Pepper came about . Henschel Verlag, Berlin 1997, German edition
  • Playback. An illustrated memoir. Genesis Publications, Guildford 2002, ISBN 0904351823 .
  • George Martin: It started in Abbey Road - The Beatles' ingenious producer tells us . Hannibal Verlag, Höfen 2013, ISBN 978-3-85445-410-6 .

Web links

Commons : George Martin  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: It started on Abbey Road . 2013, p. 20
  2. ^ Peter Martland: Since Records Began - EMI: The First 100 Years . 1997, p. 216
  3. George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: All You Need Is Eears . 1979, p. 56
  4. Tim Rice , Joe Rice, Paul Gambaccini : The Guinness Book of Number One Hits . 1982, p. 11
  5. George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: All You Need Is Eears . 1979, p. 100
  6. "You Know, It's Really A Quite Funny Job"
  7. ^ Brian Southall, Peter Vince, Allan Rouse: Abbey Road: The Story of the World's Most Famous Recording Studios . 1997, p. 64
  8. ^ Brian Southall, Peter Vince, Allan Rouse: Abbey Road: The Story of the World's Most Famous Recording Studios . 1997, p. 65
  9. ^ Mark Lewisohn: The Beatles Recording Sessions. Hamlyn, London 1988, p. 16.
  10. Philipp Norman: Shout! 2003, p. 170.
  11. Debbie Geller: The Brian Epstein Story . 2000, p. 47
  12. ^ Mark Lewisohn: The Beatles Recording Sessions. Hamlyn, London 1988, p. 22.
  13. on October 17, 1963 when recording I Want to Hold Your Hand
  14. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
  15. ^ Tibor Kneif: Sachlexikon Rockmusik . 1978, p. 137.
  16. A total of 11.7 million copies were sold - the effort was worth it.
  17. George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: It started on Abbey Road . 2013, p. 179 ff.
  18. George Martin, Jeremy Hornsby: It started on Abbey Road . 2013, p. 261
  19. ^ Gordon Thompson: Please Please Me, Sixties British Pop - Inside Out . 2008, p. 60
  20. ^ Billboard Magazine , March 6, 1993, p. 42
  21. George Martin, Producer, Composer, Author, Knight . In: Billboard-Magazin , April 11, 1998, p. 45 ff.
  22. ^ The Arms, Crest and Badge of Sir George Martin. Retrieved April 13, 2019 .