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Sir George Martin

Sir George Martin, 2007
Background information
Birth name George Henry Martin
Born 3 January 1926 (1926-01-03) (age 84)
Origin Highbury, London, England
Genres Rock, classical
Occupations Record producer, arranger, composer, musician
Instruments Oboe, piano, keyboards
Years active 1950–present
Labels EMI, Parlophone
Associated acts The Beatles, Wings, America, Cilla Black

Sir George Henry Martin CBE (3 January 1926) is an English record producer, arranger, composer and musician. He is sometimes referred to as "the Fifth Beatle"—a title that he owes to his work as producer of all but one of The Beatles' original records, as well as playing piano on some of The Beatles tracks—and is considered one of the greatest record producers of all time.

In 1965 he established the Associated Independent Recording (AIR) Studios. Although officially retired, he is still the chairman of the AIR board.[1]

In recognition of his services to the music industry and popular culture, he was made a Knight Bachelor in 1996. He is the father of producer Giles Martin, and actor Gregory Paul Martin.

Contents

Early years

When he was six, Martin's family acquired a piano that sparked his interest in music.[2] At eight years of age, Martin persuaded his parents that he should take piano lessons, but those ended after only eight lessons because of a disagreement between his mother and the teacher. After that, Martin explained that he had just picked it up by himself.[3]

As a child he attended several schools, including a "convent school in Holloway", St. Joseph's elementary school in Highgate, and St Ignatius' College in Stamford Hill, to which he won a scholarship.[4] When war broke out and St. Ignatius College students were evacuated to Welwyn Garden City, his family left London and he was enrolled at Bromley Grammar School.[4]

I remember well the very first time I heard a symphony orchestra. I was just in my teens when Sir Adrian Boult brought the BBC Symphony Orchestra to my school for a public concert. It was absolutely magical. Hearing such glorious sounds I found it difficult to connect them with ninety men and women blowing into brass and wooden instruments or scraping away at strings with horsehair bows.[5]

Despite Martin's continued interest in music, and "fantasies about being the next Rachmaninov", he did not initially choose music as a career.[6] He worked briefly as a quantity surveyor and then for the War Office as a Temporary Clerk (Grade Three) which meant filing paperwork and making tea.[7] In 1943, when he was seventeen, he joined the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy and became a pilot and a commissioned officer. The war ended before Martin was involved in any combat, and he left the service in 1947.[8] Encouraged by Sidney Harrison (a member of the Committee for the Promotion of New Music) Martin used his veteran's grant to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1947 to 1950, where he studied piano and oboe, and was interested in the music of Rachmaninov and Ravel, as well as Cole Porter and Johnny Dankworth. Martin's oboe teacher was Margaret Eliot (the mother of Jane Asher, who would later have a relationship with Paul McCartney).[9][10][11] On 3 January 1948—while still at the Academy—Martin married Sheena Chisholm, with whom he had two children: Alexis, and Gregory. He later married Judy Lockhart-Smith, 24 June 1966, and they also had two children: Lucy and Giles.[12]

Parlophone

The Beatles’ first Parlophone LP—produced by Martin.

Following his graduation, he worked for the BBC's classical music department, then joined EMI in 1950, as an assistant to Oscar Preuss, the head of EMI's Parlophone Records from 1950 to 1955. Although having been regarded by EMI as a vital German imprint in the past, it was then seen as a joke and only used for EMI's insignificant acts.[9][13] After taking over Parlophone when Preuss retired in 1955, Martin spent his first years with the record label recording classical and Baroque music, original cast recordings of hit plays, and regional music from around the British Isles.[14][15]

Martin also produced numerous comedy and novelty records. In the early 1950's, he worked with Peter Sellers, and thus came to know Spike Milligan, with whom he became a firm friend, and best man at Milligan's second marriage: "I loved the Goon Show, and issued an album of it on my label Parlophone, which is how I got to know Spike."[16] The album was Bridge On The River Wye. It was a spoof of the film The Bridge on the River Kwai, being based around the 1957 Goon Show An African Incident. It was intended to have the same name as the film, but shortly before its release, the film company threatened legal action if the name was used. Martin edited out the 'K' every time the word 'Kwai' was spoken, with Bridge on the River Wye being the result. The album included Milligan, Sellers, Jonathan Miller, and Peter Cook, playing various characters.[17] [18]

Other comedians Martin worked with included Joan Sims, Rolf Harris, Flanders and Swann and Shirley Abicair.[19] Martin worked with the Vipers Skiffle Group, with whom he had a number of hits. In early 1962, under the pseudonym "Ray Cathode", Martin released an early electronic dance single, "Time Beat"—recorded at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop—in much the same style as the Doctor Who theme tune. As Martin wanted to add rock and roll to Parlophone's repertoire, he struggled to find a "fireproof", hit-making pop artist or group.[20]

As a producer Martin recorded the two-man show featuring Michael Flanders and Donald Swann called At the Drop of a Hat, which sold steadily for twenty-five years, although Martin's breakthrough as a producer came with the Beyond the Fringe show, which starred Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller. Martin's work transformed the profile of Parlophone from a "sad little company" to a very profitable business.[21]

The Beatles

Martin previewing a song by Lennon and McCartney in 1963.

Martin was contacted by Sid Coleman of Ardmore & Beechwood, who told him about Brian Epstein, the manager of a rock band he had met. He thought Martin might be interested in the group, even though they had been turned down by Decca Records among other major British labels. Until that time Martin had had only minor success with pop music, such as "Who Could Be Bluer" by Jerry Lordan, and singles with Shane Fenton. After the telephone call by Coleman, Martin arranged a meeting on 13 February 1962 with Brian Epstein.[22] Martin listened to a tape recorded at Decca, and thought that Epstein's group was "rather unpromising", but liked the sound of Lennon and McCartney's vocals.[23]

After another meeting with Epstein on 9 May at the Abbey Road studios, Martin was impressed with Epstein's enthusiasm and agreed to sign the unknown Beatles to a recording contract without having met them or seen them play live.[24] The contract was not what it seemed, however, as Martin would not sign it himself until he had heard an audition, and later said that EMI had "nothing to lose," as it offered one penny for each record sold, which was split amongst the four members.[25] Martin suggested to EMI (after the release of "From Me to You") that the royalty rate should be doubled without asking for anything in return, which led to Martin being thought of as a "traitor in EMI".[26]

The Beatles auditioned for Martin on 6 June 1962, in studio three at the Abbey Road studios.[27] Ron Richards and his engineer Norman Smith recorded four songs, which Martin (who was not present during the recording) listened to at the end of the session. The verdict was not promising, however, as Richards complained about Pete Best's drumming, and Martin thought their original songs were simply not good enough.[24] Martin asked the individual Beatles if there was anything they personally did not like, to which George Harrison replied, "Well, there's your tie, for a start." That was the turning point, according to Smith, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney joined in with jokes and comic wordplay that made Martin think that he should sign them to a contract for their wit alone.[28]

The Beatles' first recording session with Martin was on 4 September, when they recorded "How Do You Do It", which Martin thought was a sure-fire hit even though Lennon and McCartney hated it.[29] Richards complained about new-member Ringo Starr's drumming on the next song, "Love Me Do", and so on 11 September, they re-recorded "Love Me Do" with Andy White. Starr was asked to play tambourine and maracas, and although he complied, he was definitely "not pleased".[30] "Love Me Do" peaked at number 17 in the British charts, so on 26 November 1962 Martin recorded "Please Please Me", which he only did after Lennon and McCartney had almost begged him to record another of their original songs. Martin's crucial contribution here was to tell them to speed up what was initially a slow ballad. After the recording Martin looked over the mixing desk and said, "Gentlemen, you have just made your first number one record".[31][32] Martin directed Epstein to find a good publisher—as Ardmore & Beechwood had done nothing to promote "Love Me Do"—telling Epstein about three publishers who, in Martin's opinion, would be fair and honest, which led them to Dick James.[33]

As arranger

Abbey Road Studios, where Martin recorded Parlophone's artists.

Martin's musical expertise helped fill the gaps between The Beatles' raw talent and the sound they wanted to achieve. Most of The Beatles' orchestral arrangements and instrumentation (as well as frequent keyboard parts on the early records) were written or performed by Martin in collaboration with the band.[34] It was Martin's idea to put a string quartet on "Yesterday," against McCartney's initial reluctance.[34][35] Martin played the song in the style of Bach to show McCartney the voicings that were available.[36] Another example is the song "Penny Lane", which featured a piccolo trumpet solo. McCartney hummed the melody he wanted, and Martin wrote it down in music notation for David Mason, the classically trained trumpeter.[37]

Martin's distinctive arranging work appears on multiple Beatles' recordings. For "Eleanor Rigby" he scored and conducted a strings-only accompaniment inspired by Bernard Herrmann. On a Canadian speaking tour in 2007, Martin said his "Eleanor Rigby" score was influenced by Herrmann's score for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Psycho.[38]

For "Strawberry Fields Forever", he and Geoff Emerick turned two very different takes into a single master through careful use of vari-speed and editing.[39] For "I Am the Walrus", he provided a quirky and original arrangement for brass, violins, cellos, and the Mike Sammes Singers vocal ensemble.[37][40][41] On "In My Life", he played a sped-up Baroque piano solo.[42] He worked with McCartney to implement the orchestral 'windup' in "A Day in the Life" and he and McCartney shared conducting duties the day it was recorded.[43]

He contributed less-noted but integral parts to other songs, including the piano in "Lovely Rita",[44] the circus instrumentation in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" (both Martin and Lennon played organ parts for this song), and the orchestration in "Good Night". [45][46][47]

The first song that Martin did not arrange was "She's Leaving Home", as he had a prior engagement to produce a Cilla Black session, so McCartney contacted arranger Mike Leander to do it. Martin was reportedly hurt by this, but still produced the recording and conducted the orchestra himself.[48] Martin was in demand as an independent arranger and producer by the time of The White Album, so The Beatles were left to produce various tracks by themselves.[49]

Martin arranged the score for The Beatles' film Yellow Submarine[50] and the James Bond film Live and Let Die, for which Paul McCartney wrote and sang the title song.[51]

As composer

George Martin has composed film scores since the early 1960s, as well as being a producer and arranger. He composed the score of much of the film Yellow Submarine and parts of Live and Let Die. Martin composed Adagietto for Harmonica & Strings for Tommy Reilly, Theme One for BBC Radio 1, and Magic Carpet for The Dakotas.

The Beatles Anthology

Martin oversaw post-production on The Beatles Anthology (which was originally entitled "The Long and Winding Road") in 1994 and 1995, working again with recording engineer Geoff Emerick.[52] Martin decided to use an old 8-track analogue desk to mix the songs for the project—which EMI found out an engineer still had—instead of a modern digital desk. He explained this by saying that the old desk created a completely different sound, which a new desk could not recreate.[52] He also said the whole project was a strange experience for him (with which McCartney agreed) as they had to listen to themselves chatting in the studio, 25–30 years previously.[52]

Martin stepped down when it came to producing the two new singles reuniting McCartney, Harrison and Starr, who wanted to overdub two old Lennon demos. Martin had suffered a hearing loss, and left the work to writer/producer Jeff Lynne of ELO fame.[53][54]

Cirque du Soleil and Love

In 2006, Martin and his son, Giles Martin, remixed 80 minutes of Beatle music for the Las Vegas stage performance Love, a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and The Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd.[55] A soundtrack album from the show was released in 2006.[56]

Other artists

Martin has produced recordings for many other artists, including contemporaries of The Beatles, such as Matt Monro, Cilla Black, and Gerry & The Pacemakers, as well as the band America,[57] guitarist Jeff Beck, sixties duo Edwards Hand, Ultravox, country-singer Kenny Rogers, Cheap Trick and Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan.[58][59]

Martin also worked with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Gary Glitter. He worked with Glitter before he was famous, and recorded several songs with him in the 1960s under the name of "Paul Raven". He also produced the 1974 album The Man In The Bowler Hat for the eccentric British folk-rock group Stackridge.[60]

Martin worked with Paul Winter on his (1972) Icarus album, which was recorded in a rented house by the sea in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Winter said that Martin taught him "how to use the studio as a tool", and allowed him to record the album in a relaxed atmosphere, which was different from the pressurised control in a professional studio.[61]

In 2010, Martin was the executive producer of the hard rock debut of Arms of the Sun, an all-star project featuring Rex Brown (Pantera, Down), John Luke Hebert (King Diamond), Lance Harvill, and Ben Bunker.[62]

Associated Independent Recording (AIR)

Within the recording industry, Martin is noted for going independent at a time when many producers were still salaried staff—which he was until The Beatles' success gave him the leverage to start, in 1965, Associated Independent Recording, and hire out his own services to artists who requested him. This arrangement not only demonstrated how important Martin's talents were considered to be by his artists, but it allowed him a share in record royalties on his hits.[63] Today, Martin's Associated Independent Recording (AIR) remains one of the world's pre-eminent recording studios.[64] Martin later opened a studio in Montserrat, in 1979. [12] This studio was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo ten years later. [65]

Music from James Bond series

Martin has also directly and indirectly contributed to the main themes of three films in the James Bond series. Although Martin did not produce the theme for the second Bond film, From Russia with Love, he was responsible for the signing of Matt Monro to EMI just months prior to his recording of the song of the same title.[66]

Martin also produced two of the most well-known James Bond themes. The first was "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey in 1964. Despite producing the film's theme that became a hit single, Martin did not take part in the movie's score or the 'James Bond Theme' by Monty Norman or John Barry.[67]

In 1972, Martin also arranged and produced the music for the entire film of Live and Let Die. Apart from scoring a successful chart entry for the title song itself (by McCartney), Martin also composed one of the most colourful and funky Bond scores that served as a precursor to the music of 1970s blaxploitation films.[68]

Books and audio retrospective

In 1979, he published a memoir, All You Need is Ears (co-written with Jeremy Hornsby), that described his work with The Beatles and other artists (including Peter Sellers, Sophia Loren, Shirley Bassey, Flanders and Swann, Matt Monro, and Dudley Moore), and gave an informal introduction to the art and science of sound recording. In 1993 Martin published With a Little Help from My Friends: The Making of Sgt Pepper (published in UK as Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt Pepper, co-authored with William Pearson),[69][70] which also included interview quotations from a 1992 South Bank Show episode discussing the album. Martin also edited a 1983 book called Making Music: The Guide to Writing, Performing and Recording.

In 2001, Martin released Produced by George Martin: 50 Years In Recording, a 6-CD retrospective of his entire studio career, and in 2002, Martin launched Playback, his limited-edition illustrated autobiography, published by Genesis Publications.[71]

Awards and recognition

Selected non-Beatles hit records produced or co-produced by George Martin

Records produced by Martin have achieved 30 #1 singles and 16 #1 albums in the UK—plus 23 #1 singles and 19 #1 albums in North America.[80]

Discography

Selected discography (as producer)

Notes and References

  1. ^ Sir George Martin's AIR Studios sold by Chrysalis Group and pioneer to Strongroom Recording Studios owner Richard Boote airstudios.com. Retrieved: 3 May 2008
  2. ^ Martin (1989) p13
  3. ^ Martin (1994) p14
  4. ^ a b Martin (1994) p15
  5. ^ A lifelong love affair with the orchestra bbc.co.uk. Retrieved: 21 September 2007
  6. ^ Martin (1994) p17
  7. ^ Martin (1994) p18
  8. ^ Martin (1994) pp25–28
  9. ^ a b Spitz (2005) p296
  10. ^ Spitz (2005) p438
  11. ^ Martin (1994) pp18–25
  12. ^ a b George Martin’s Biography musicianguide.com. Retrieved: 23 September 2007
  13. ^ Martin (1994) pp28–29
  14. ^ Martin (1994) p63
  15. ^ Martin (1994) pp84–85
  16. ^ Ventham (2002) p62
  17. ^ Lewis(1995) pp205–206
  18. ^ Description of Bridge on The River Wye—scroll down page
  19. ^ George Martin (1994). All You Need Is Ears. pp. 85–103. 
  20. ^ Miles (1997) p330–331
  21. ^ Spitz (2005) p297
  22. ^ Spitz (2005) pp297–298
  23. ^ Spitz (2005) p301
  24. ^ a b Miles (1997) p90
  25. ^ Spitz (2005) p312
  26. ^ Spitz (2005) p414
  27. ^ Martin (1994) pp120–123
  28. ^ Spitz (2005) pp318–319
  29. ^ Lewisohn (1990) p7
  30. ^ Spitz (2005) p353
  31. ^ Spitz (2005) p360
  32. ^ "Congratulations, gentlemen, you've just made your first number one." bbc.co.uk. Retrieved: 21 September 2007.
  33. ^ Spitz (2005) p364
  34. ^ a b Miles (1997) p205
  35. ^ “What about a classical string quartet?” bbc.co.uk. Retrieved: 21 September 2007
  36. ^ Miles (1997) p206
  37. ^ a b Lewisohn (1990) p93
  38. ^ MacDonald (1994) p163
  39. ^ Lewisohn (1990) pp90–91
  40. ^ Miles (1997) p357
  41. ^ MacDonald (1994) p216
  42. ^ Lewisohn (1990) p65
  43. ^ Miles (1997) p326–328
  44. ^ MacDonald (1994) pp189–190
  45. ^ Lewisohn (1990) p99
  46. ^ Miles (1997) p318
  47. ^ Lewisohn (1990) p144
  48. ^ Miles (1997) p317
  49. ^ Miles (1997) p491
  50. ^ Martin (1994) pp226–230
  51. ^ Martin (1994) pp231–232
  52. ^ a b c ”The Beatles Anthology” DVD 2003 (Special Features—Compiling The Anthology Albums—0:00:10) George Martin talking about The Anthology project.
  53. ^ Martin's hearing loss 4hearingloss.com. Retrieved: 23 September 2007
  54. ^ “handed over further duties to ELO supremo Jeff Lynne” icons.org.uk. Retrieved: 23 September 2007
  55. ^ Love unveils new angle on Beatles bbc.co.uk. Retrieved: 21 September 2007
  56. ^ Legendary producer returns to Abbey Road bbc.co.uk. Retrieved: 21 September 2007
  57. ^ Martin (1994) pp246–247
  58. ^ "Eternal Melody release information". cdjapan.co.jp. http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=UPCH-1139.  Retrieved: 21 September 2007
  59. ^ "Article on Hideto Matsumoto's death". nytimes.com. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D00EFD7103DF93BA25755C0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all.  Retrieved: 21 September 2007
  60. ^ Stackridge web page stackridge.net Retrieved on 19 September 2007
  61. ^ Paul Winter comments about Martin and recording northwestern.edu Retrieved 8 November 2007
  62. ^ George Martin Project Set to Debut on ExtremeMusic.com Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  63. ^ Martin (1994) pp179–185
  64. ^ Air studios web page airstudios.com Retrieved on 19 September 2007
  65. ^ Rock and roll hall of fame:George Martin rockhall.com
  66. ^ Andrews Sisters, Ann Shelton, Matt Monro—bottom of page www.eastlondonhistory.com. Accessed 29 December 2007
  67. ^ Tracklisting for George Martin compilation on his official site www.georgemartin.co.uk. Accessed 29 December 2007
  68. ^ MFiles.co.uk Official Site www.mfiles.co.uk. Accessed 29 December 2007
  69. ^ George Martin (1994)
  70. ^ Summer Of Love genesis-publications.com. Retrieved: 23 September 2007
  71. ^ Playback—An Illustrated Memoir genesis-publications.com. Retrieved: 23 September 2007
  72. ^ a b c d e f "GRAMMY.com". http://www.grammy.com. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  73. ^ Brit Awards bbc.co.uk. Retrieved: 21 September 2007
  74. ^ "The BRIT Awards 1984". http://brits.co.uk/winners/1984/. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  75. ^ "Commencement Address". http://www.berklee.edu/commencement/past/gmartin.html. Retrieved 1989-04-13. 
  76. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". http://www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=149. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  77. ^ "College of Arms". http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/Martin.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  78. ^ "Leeds Metropolitan University Winter Graduation 2006". http://www.leedsmet.ac.uk/graduation/winter06/hon_martin.html. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  79. ^ "Irish Independent". http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/the-lsquofifth-beatlersquo-to-get-joyce-honour-1481861.html. 
  80. ^ George Martin’s success wma.com/sir. Retrieved: 19 September 2007

Bibliography

  • Lewisohn, Mark (1990). The Beatles: Recording Sessions. Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition. ISBN 978-0517581827. 
  • MacDonald, Ian (1994). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-2780-7. 
  • Martin, George; Hornsby, Jeremy (1994). All You Need Is Ears. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-11482-6. 
  • Martin, George; Pearson, William (1994). With a Little Help from My Friends: The Making of Sgt. Pepper. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-54783-2. 
  • Lewis, Roger (1995). The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. London: Arrow. ISBN 0-09-974700-6. 
  • Miles, Barry (1997). Many Years from Now. Vintage-Random House. ISBN 0-7493-8658-4. 
  • Ventham, Maxine (2002). Spike Milligan: His Part In Our Lives. London: Robson. ISBN 1-86105-530-7. 
  • Spitz, Bob (2005). The Beatles: The Biography. Little, Brown and Company (New York). ISBN 1-84513-160-6. 
  • The Beatles (2003). The Beatles Anthology (DVD). Apple records. ASIN: B00008GKEG (Bar Code: 24349 29699). 

External links

Preceded by
John Barry
1962–1971
James Bond film score composer
1973
Succeeded by
John Barry
1974

Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

George Martin (G. Martin)
(1827-1886)








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