Wednesday, March 9, 2016

George Martin 1926-2016

George Martin, who signed the Beatles to EMI's Parlophone division and then produced most of their records, has died at age 90 at his home in Coleshill, England.  Martin also arranged the string and brass instruments heard in many Beatles songs, and contributed some keyboard parts.

George Henry Martin was born in the Highbury section of London.  He attended several elementary schools during his childhood, and then St. Ignatius' College (a secondary school) as a teen.  When World War II broke out, the school's students were evacuated to Welwyn Garden City, 19 miles north of London.  He served in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy from 1943 to 1947, after which he attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying piano and oboe.  In 1950, he joined EMI, working for Parlophone's head Oscar Preuss and producing comedy and novelty records.  In 1962, after meeting with Beatles manager Brian Epstein and listening to a previously-recorded tape, Martin agreed to sign the group to Parlophone.

Besides the Beatles, Martin would eventually work with many other artists including Cilla Black, Gerry & The Pacemakers, America, Jeff Beck, Gary Brooker (of Procol Harum), Neil Sadaka, Kenny Rogers, Cheap Trick, Elton John, Celine Dion and Little River Band.  He composed, produced and arranged the background music in several movies, such as A Hard Day's Night, Yellow Submarine, and Live and Let Die, for which he also produced the recording of Paul McCartney's title song.

George Martin was married to the former Sheena Chisholm, with whom he had two children, Alexis and Gregory, and was later married to the former Judy Lockhart-Smith, with whom he had two more children, Lucie and Giles.  He is survived by Lockhart-Smith and his four children.

Read more at The Guardian, the Daily Mail, BBC News, The Telegraph and Ultimate Classic Rock.

On the Beatles song In My Life, George Martin played a piano solo with the tape running at half speed.  When the part was played back at normal speed, it was transposed an octave up, and in my opinion, made to sound somewhat like a harpsichord.  The video shows pictures of John Lennon.

In 1997, Martin produced Elton John's re-recording of Candle In The Wind, made in tribute to Princess Diana, who had been tragically killed in a car wreck.

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