Obituary: Sir George Martin (1926 – 2016)

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By Gary Cordwell

The announcement yesterday (9th March) of the passing of Sir George Martin saw us lose perhaps the single most crucial individual involved in the shaping and creation of the sound of modern popular music. The producer ceased to become an anonymous background presence, they stepped into the limelight and became an artist in their own right. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of his contribution to music.

A musician himself, Martin produced over 700 records but, obviously, is best known as the man who signed a rough-round-the -edges beat combo from Liverpool and, in the space of a few short years, moved light years beyond their initial moptop pop to create a totally new sound. And we mean new – a musical vocabulary and blueprint the likes of which the world had not heard before, a sound that had not previously existed – and how many people can boast that?

It’s a cliche but, like most cliche’s, it’s true – Martin was ‘The Fifth Beatle’. His instrument was the recording studio and he was a maestro. Would the Beatles have been anywhere near as mind-bending without his clear-headed musical knowledge? He translated and interpreted the rough ideas in the minds of four young, inexperienced Liverpudlians and brought them kicking and screaming into the world, creating soundscapes unequalled in state of the art 21st Century studio’s. A unique melding of pop, blues, rock ‘n roll, skiffle, music hall, classical, world music and…weird shit. He wrote the sublime string parts for ‘Eleanor Rigby’ as well as the background surrealism of ‘I Am The Walrus’. And we haven’t even got to the “Orchestral Orgasm” of ‘A Day In The Life’ yet! And all of it on four-track tape!

And it wasn’t just the Beatles who benefitted from his genius – he has worked with Jeff Beck and the Mahavishu Orchestra to name but two. Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’, recorded to commemorate the passing of Diana, Princess Of Wales, was also a Martin production and who can forget Bernard Cribbins classic ‘Right Said Fred’! A geniune sonic sculptor, an architect, a true pioneer and a lover of music, we won’t see his like again.

RIP Sir George Martin

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