The fact that this man happened to be paired (by fate) with those lads from Liverpool is one of those moments in history that changed the world – neither could have accomplished it without the other. And to think that it came this close to not happening: After their EMI audition, Martin was generous enough to ask the very young Beatles what THEY had thought of their performance (I think it was Love Me Do) – anything about the experience they liked or didn’t like? A very young George Harrison cheekily replied, “Well, I don’t like your tie.” Silence. Then…laughter. Martin thought it was hilarious! Thank goodness he had a sense of humor (and maybe Harrison was perceptive enough the guess that he did, even having just met Martin). Our lives would all be quite different today if Martin had failed to appreciate Harrison’s little joke.
Who are they going to get to write A Dream of Spring?
I had to look that up. The R.R. guy! (George R. R. Martin, the SF – or is it fantasy?---- writer). Yeah, to avoid confusion, I mentioned the Beatles in my initial post.
I just reported this thread to ask that (Beatles’ Producer) be added to the title.
Just heard this on NPR - “Beatles Manager George Martin has died” - they then discussed his work on producing the albums, so they recovered.
What a brilliant ingredient to have in the mix. His ear, his arranging, his willingness to let this experiment play out - just amazing. The middle-period work, with the use of the studio as a tool, and the increased bass in the mix, etc, still set the standard for what current music sounds like.
Thank you, sir.
Thanks for all the music, Sir George.
The most famous opening “guitar” “chord” in music…“We knew it would open both the film and the soundtrack LP, so we wanted a particularly strong and effective beginning,” Martin said. “The strident guitar chord was the perfect launch.”
It is, in fact, something akin to a G seventh suspended fourth (That, or a G7sus4/A, are considered the best way to reproduce the chord on a single guitar).
The mystery is caused by the fact that Martin is playing a piano chord atop Harrison’s Fadd9 (or “F with a G on top,” as he said in early 2001) played on his 12-string Rickenbacker, Lennon’s Fadd9 played on his Gibson J-160E and McCartney’s single note (D) played on his Hofner 500/1 bass.
And from NPR a few years back…Using Fourier analysis, Dalhousie University’s Jason Brown deconstructed the opening chord with the help of basic audio-editing software. Brown found that it isn’t purely guitar and bass, as previously assumed; he theorizes that Beatles producer George Martin played a five-note chord on the piano as well.
I knew this day would come, but it still saddens me. George Martin was exceptionally well paired with The Beatles. Thank you Sir George for a decade of music that will last forever.
But don’t forget that at the time he was auditioning the Beatles, Martin was producing comedy records for acts like Flanders and Swann. He knew funny and wanted an act with a sense of humor.
His work with the Beatles allowed them to become great.
He was a remarkable musical genius. He brought us the raw Beatles, the early stuff, when all he was dealing with was great, simple songs and an unusually good band. When the band’s creativity went in new directions, he enabled everything they wanted to do and added his own creativity. Toward the end, when things were falling apart, he managed to get a couple of great albums from a band that was no longer really a band.
We are so fortunate that George Martin and the Beatles worked together. He was just a staff producer when they met. I often think of how different things might have been if some other staff producer had been in his place. He called his autobiography “All You Need Is Ears.” He had so much more that ears.
Most of the posts here will be about his work with The Beatles (and rightfully so) but before the Thread gets to be so long that individual posts are lost in the noise, I wanted to say that George Martin produced and arranged my favorite recording of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” (YouTube Link).
(please note: I am posting from work and am unable to confirm that the YouTube link is of good quality. If someone else can confirm, I will appreciate it!)
It’s from a 1994 Gershwin Tribute Album that George Martin produced. The entire album is quite good. The album was a vehicle for harmonica player Larry Adler who gives an amazing performance on “Rhapsody”.
Taking on a band that every other producer had turned down, and seeing the potential they had, took insight and some guts. One of those happenstance events that changed the course of music. Good job, George.
Thank you, Sir George.
When Martin move to Parlophone Records in the late 50s, the label was considered an afterthought by the parent company, EMI. Martin kept it afloat with comedy acts like Dudley Moore, Flanders and Swann, the Goon Show, and Beyond the Fringe (many of these were almost as influential in comedy as the Beatles were in music).
He wanted to break into rock and roll and the Beatles was the first rock act he signed. It was a risk: EMI kept him on a tight leash and if they hadn’t hit it, they were willing to ignore rock and roll (at the very least). He knew the Beatles had potential, but he wanted to know that they had personalities that made them marketable. The “I don’t like your tie” comment – which shocked other Parlophone executives in the room, with some of them believing the Beatles had sealed their doom – showed Martin that the Beatles would appeal outside of the music.
Plus his knowledge and technical skill served the Beatles well. They knew they could come to him and he’d be able to make it work, or tell them it was unworkable.
Does any band really depend on its producer?!
I think he was also ethical enough to turn down a share in the Beatles…costing him millions but I imagine he was prosperous enough not to need it.
I think George Martin (and comments like Crotalus’s in Post #8 of this thread) answer this question.
The short answer is that for Martin, it is a resounding yes. Producers can function as anything from a person overseeing a simple recording of music, to someone deeply involved in crafting and executing the vision for the music with the band. He was very much the latter.
Martin taught them craft - how to do intro’s and exits (something they did better than anyone); how to look at the studio as another tool/instrument to use; some of the musical theory that undergirded their natural musical instincts. He got them to think about using other instruments, like horns and strings, and was therefore essential in expanding their musical thinking, which they took to psychedelia and beyond.
He was the Fifth Beatle in many important ways.
Yes. Serious answer. I’ve read lots of books by and about rockers who spend numerous pages discussing why some of their work with particular producers at a particular period sounds so much better.
Martin was not somebody who sat in another room and twiddled controls. They had an engineer for that. He was an active participant in the process of transitioning their songs from a few chords to layered complete works that they felt could not be reproduced anywhere outside the studio. He was the Fifth Beatle. He took them from good to great to world-changing. And we can hear today what happened after they left him.
Some producers are huge. There are numerous bands nobody would probably have ever heard of if they hadn’t been produced by Phil Spector, for example. These days, getting T Bone Burnett as your producer practically guarantees your record will be a hit (and will also sound as great as possible). George Martin was absolutely in that same league.
He was on staff salary for the early stuff. It started to get ridiculous, and EMI didn’t offer to bend or budge. So he created a company and split with EMI as an employee, and the Beatles hired him as an outside contractor. They knew he was all important.