The Beatles producer and arranger, Sir George Martin, known as the “Fifth Beatle,” has passed away at the age of 90. Details of Martin’s death are unclear, but Universal Music has confirmed his death. Martin changed music forever when he signed The Beatles to EMI’s Parlophone Records in the early 60’s when no other label would sign them.
The news was first reported when drummer Ringo Starr tweeted “God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed xxx” late Tuesday (Mar 8th) night.
Sir Paul McCartney shared a touching tribute to honor his friend.
“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,” he writes on Facebook.
“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!”
Mike Portnow, President and CEO of The Recording Academy shares his condolences for one of music’s most treasured people.
“We are very saddened to learn about the passing of six-time GRAMMY Award winner and Trustees Award recipient Sir George Martin. As many fans of the Beatles know, George’s work as producer, engineer, arranger, conductor, and musician was instrumental to the massive success of the group, and he was fondly referred to as ‘the fifth Beatle,'” Portnow states. “Having worked on hundreds of recordings, he was one of the most innovative producers of all time and his impact on music is unparalleled. Our creative community has lost a gifted artist, and our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, and the many musicians with whom he collaborated.”
We send our deepest condolences. Rest in peace, George!
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.