He’s often called the ‘Fifth Beatle.’ And with good reason, having produced 205 songs of the popular band from Liverpool, as the head of the Parlophone record label. Ironically, though Sir George Martin passed away on Tuesday at the age of 90, most hard core fans of The Beatles in Chennai had never heard his name.
Even musicians who were raised listening to The Beatles and have covered their music at some point or other appeared a tad perplexed. “I have no idea who that is,” admitted Sajith Satya, a bass guitarist who has worked with the likes of Anirudh Ravichander, while crooner Sharanya Gopinath of Chrome.O.Soul who had even come across the news online, asked quizzically, “Yeah, he was an engineer of a member of their crew right?”
Martin was a member of their crew alright. But certainly not the silent kind who stayed behind the scenes. With six grammys and a career spanning seven decades and having worked with other musical icons from Elton John to Celine Dion, not to mention two James Bond themes, it’s hard to believe that this grand old man of the music industry had his beginnings as a carpenter’s son in Holloway, North London.
Even radio veteran Geoffery Thomas who has done numerous shows on The Beatles, complete with song trivia and detailed research on their story, was not aware of this mammoth force behind the fame of the Fab Four. “I’ve never once come across that name in all my years on the air, but I’m definitely going to be doing some reading up now,” he said.
With RIP tributes coming in from everyone from Beatles drummer Ringo Starr to British Prime Minister David Cameron, perhaps this one by singer Josh Groban sums up his life best, “What an ear, what a life, what a legacy.” While we have never seen his face in a music video, which is why we know so little of the legend, really it was his fabulous ear for detail that gave so many songs their Ticket to Ride.
Discovering The Fab Four
The Beatles had been turned down by several record labels including Decca when Martin invited them for an audience at Abbey Road in June 1962.
In November 1962, the band recorded Please Please Me, with Martin suggesting they speed the song up. As they finished, Martin told them from the control room: “Gentleman you have just made your first No 1 record” – which soon enough, turned out to be true
On many occasions, Lennon and McCartney would entrust him with arranging their songs - the string quartet on Yesterday was his idea.