Facts about George Martin

George Martin died at 90 years old
Born: January 6, 1926
Died: March 8, 2016
Birthplace: London, England
Best known as: The music producer who helped turn the Beatles into the world's biggest band

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George Martin Biography

Sir George Martin CBE was the composer and producer who signed The Beatles to a record deal with EMI and then proceeded to arrange, produce and assist dozens of hit songs as they became the most famous rock band in the world.

George Martin was born in 1926, enlisted in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm during World War II in 1943, and after the war studied at the Guildhall School of Music. He joined EMI in 1950 and worked his way up to a job as head EMI’s Parlophone label, recording everything from jazz to comedy records. In April of 1962 he met Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who played him a demo tape of the group. Martin signed the band and then began work with them on their first album, Please Please Me.

The combination of the classically-trained Martin and the energetic lads from Liverpool turned out to be a good one, and he worked on every Beatles album up through Abbey Road. Martin produced recording sessions, arranged orchestrations, and even played piano on tunes like “In My Life.”  (It was Martin, for instance, who suggested the use of a string quartet on the tune “Yesterday.”) “Put simply, my job was to make sure recordings were artistically exceptional and commercially appealing,” he told the The Wall Street Journal in 2012.

After the Beatles broke up in 1969, Martin went on to produce seven albums with the band America, and worked with 1970s bands ranging from Cheap Trick and Jeff Beck to Kenny Rogers and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. In 1965 he left EMI to create his own company, Associated Independent Recording (or AIR), and AIR eventually grew to include highly successful studios in London and in the Caribbean island of Montserrat.

He also created his own music publishing company, George Martin Music, in 1969. George Martin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, and was knighted as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1988. Though in later years he worked with artists like Elton John and Celine Dion, he continued to be closely associated with The Beatles. He and his son Giles arranged and remixed the band’s music for the Cirque du Soleil production Love, which opened in Las Vegas in 2006; the album won two Grammy Awards for each of the men. He also wrote three books: the early-years memoir All You Need is Ears (1979), The how-to guide Making Music (1983) and a memoir of the making of the Beatles’ famous Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, titled Summer of Love (1994).

Extra credit

His 1948 marriage to Sheena Chisholm ended in divorce; they had two children, Alexis and Gregory. His second marriage to Judy Lockhart-Smith (1966) also produced two children, Lucy (b. 1968) and Giles (b. 1969). Giles Martin is also a producer, arranger and composer… According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, “With the exception of Phil Spector’s post-production on Let It Be, every Beatles recording — from the first single (“Love Me Do”) to the last album (Abbey Road) — was produced by Martin”… He sold AIR Studios to businessman Richard Boote in 2006… George Martin was no relation to George R.R. Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones book series.


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