George Martin

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  • Trivia

    • Sir George Henry Martin, Kt., C.B.E. was celebrated as the "indispensable" "Fifth Beatle" by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it inducted him on March 15, 1999. When the U.K. Music Hall of Fame welcomed him (November 14, 2006), he was cited for his outstanding contribution to British music and for being an integral part of British culture.

    • Various Awards and Accomplishments of Note:

      In his career, George Martin produced a record-breaking 30 #1 singles and 16 #1 albums in the U.K., as well as 22 #1 singles and 19 #1 albums in North America .

      He a Fellow of the British Royal Academy of Music and has been awarded two Ivor Novello Awards and seven Grammy Awards. He was given the James Joyce Award by the Literary and Historical Society of the University College Dublin (2008). He has also been honored with a Gold Medal for "Services to the Arts" from the World Federation of Authors and Composers, and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award for "Services to Film" at Belgium's Flanders Film Festival. He was named the British Phonographic Industry's Man of the Year (1998) after previously winning their award for "Outstanding Contribution" (1984).

      He has received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Leeds Metropolitan University (2006), an Honorary Degree of Master of Arts from Salford University, England (1992), and an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston (1988).

    • George Martin' s Grammy Awards:

      2007 - Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media, producer (with son Giles) for The Beatles album Love
      2007 - Best Surround Sound Album, producer (with Giles) for The Beatles album Love
      1996 - Trustees Special Merit Award for significant contribution, other than performance
      1993 - Best Musical Show Album (as producer of The Who's Tommy)
      1973 - Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) (as arranger of Live and Let Die)
      1967 - Album Of The Year (as producer of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)
      1967 - Best Contemporary Album (producer, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)

      NOTE : There is disagreement concerning Grammy totals as some don't consider "Lifetime Achievement" and "Trustees" awards to be true Grammy's because they are not "specific performance" awards. Although the Grammy site lists these awards, it's own press releases don't seem to count them as "Grammy's" : "The Grammy Foundation's annual signature gala Starry Night (July 12, 2008) will honor Recording Academy Trustees Award recipient, six-time Grammy winner and legendary producer, arranger, composer and author Sir George Martin".

    • George Martin has been responsible for the music in many films : A Hard Day's Night (Academy Award nomination), Yellow Submarine, John Schlesinger's Honky Tonk Freeway, The Family Way (with Paul McCartney), Pulp (with Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney), Optimist of Nine Elms (with Peter Sellers) and the Bond film Live and Let Die (for which he won a Grammy). Martin was also Musical Director and Composer for Sgt. Pepper (starring the The Bee Gees), Give My Regards to Broad Street (McCartney) and the award-winning cartoon Rupert and The Frog Song (McCartney). George also composed The David Frost Theme, By George, for television and Theme One, BBC Radio One's signature tune.

    • George Martin has written two books and edited a third:
      All You Need is Ears - detailing his early career in the music business
      Summer of Love (With A Little Help From My Friends) - recalls and explains, track by track, the recording of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
      Making Music - a series of essays by various artists on ideas, techniques and experiences of writing, performing and recording music (edited by George Martin)

    • Love, a masterful remix of the Beatles music manipulated electronically to form a dynamic 90 minute soundscape, was produced by George and his son, Giles, for the "circus ballet" troupe, Cirque du Soleil. After three long years of production work, the brainchild of George Harrison and Cirque de Soleil founder Guy Laliberte opened in June of 2006. "This music was designed for the LOVE show in Las Vegas, but in doing so we've created a new Beatles album," Martin said. "The Beatles always looked for other ways of expressing themselves and this is another step forward for them." Both the show and album have been huge critical and commercial successes - the album winning two Grammy awards for George and his son : Best Compilation Soundtrack Album and Best Surround Sound Album.

    • Although officially retired, much of George's time in late-2001 and early-2002 was spent arranging a musical celebration for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the international year-long celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the thrones of seven countries on February 6, 1952. Sir George was the musical director for the event and the globally telecast rock concert from the grounds of Buckingham Palace on June 3, 2002.
      As part of the June 3rd celebration, more than 200 towns and cities across the United Kingdom publicly played The Beatles song "All You Need Is Love" simultaneously. That evening, the Queen was serenaded by a who's who of British rock royalty - including Eric Clapton, C.B.E., Sir Cliff Richard, O.B.E. and Sir Paul McCartney, M.B.E., who closed the show. The DVD release of the event, Party at the Palace, raised millions for charity.

    • Sir George was granted his own coat of arms by the College of Arms in March of 2004. His shield features three beetles under a martin holding a recorder. Below his motto is a zebra carrying a Bishop's staff. His motto (AMORE SOLUM OPUS EST) can be loosely translated as "All You Need Is Love". Under the heading "The Arms of Sir George Martin, Kt., C.B.E.", his coat of arms can be seen in the George Martin's Coat Of Arms Blog on the front page of this guide.

    • In 1998, Sir George's last professional "project" was undertaken for friend and former colleague, John Lennon. Asked by EMI and Yoko Ono, George contributed to the John Lennon anthology album by composing an arrangement for John's unfinished song, "Grow Old With Me".

    • Sir George capped his storied career as a record producer with "Candle in the Wind (1997)", Elton John's remake of his earlier c, recorded for charity shortly after the death of Britain's Princess Diana. The single was not only Martin's 30th #1 hit in the U.K., it was the biggest-selling single in the history of popular music.

    • On June 15, 1996, George Martin was knighted [Knight Bachelor] by Queen Elizabeth, becoming Sir George Henry Martin CBE - the first member of his profession ever to be so honored by the English crown.

    • From 1994 to 1996, Martin returned at times to Abby Road studio, supervising the assemblage, remastering and post-production of The Beatles Live at the BBC and Anthology albums - 8 CD's of rarities previously available only via bootlegs. Reunited with recording engineer Geoff Emerick, Martin decided to use an old 8-track analogue tape deck to mix the songs rather than modern digital equipment, which he felt would alter the sound.
      When it came to producing the two new Beatles singles which were planned, however - reuniting Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon (via two old demo tapes) - the task was given to writer/producer Jeff Lynne (of ELO and The Traveling Wilburys fame). Referring to his hearing loss, Martin explained, "I don't produce anymore, because I'm too old." Both albums went multi-platinum on both sides of the pond. Martin also composed some "incidental music" for the film version, The Beatles Anthology, which was first shown on TV (1995) and then released on VHS, Laserdisc, and finally, DVD (2003).

    • Martin earned another platinum record in 1993 with the release of the cast album of the Broadway musical Tommy (winner of five Tony awards), for which he and composer Pete Townsend shared a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.

    • In 1992, Martin produced and presented a television documentary on the making of The Beatles's Sgt. Pepper album which won a Palme d'Or at The Cannes Film Festival and was selected as the British entry for the Italia Prize.

    • In 1988, George was appointed C.B.E. (Commander of the British Empire) for his services to the music industry - an award two notches above the lowly M.B.E.'s received by The Beatles (interestingly, the Gibb brothers of The Bee Gees were also awarded C.B.E.'s).

    • In the late-'80's, the reissue of the The Beatles's music on CD and the 20th anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Bandbrought Martin back into the public eye - as did a controversy over his decision to release only the mono versions of the group's first four albums because he believed the stereo versions to be inferior. He later conceded that he may have been wrong about A Hard Day's Night and Beatles For Sale.

    • Following the murder of John Lennon, Martin reunited with Paul McCartney for two closely-related albums - Tug of War (1982) and Pipes of Peace (1983) - each of which resulted in a #1 hit : "Ebony and Ivory" (with Stevie Wonder) and "Say, Say, Say" (with Michael Jackson).

    • In 1977, Martin received a prestigious Britannia Award for being the Best British Producer of the past 25 years. Seven years later, he was awarded a second BRIT for his Outstanding Contribution To Music.

    • During the 1970's, along with multiple individual projects, Martin produced two albums for Jeff Beck (Blow By Blow, Wired) and seven albums by the band America - the most successful of which was the first, Holiday.

    • The first Beatles song that Martin did not arrange was "She's Leaving Home" from Sgt. Peppers. As he had a prior engagement to produce a Cilla Black session, Paul McCartney contacted arranger Mike Leander to write the arrangement - reportedly hurting George, although he still produced the recording and conducted the orchestra. This trend continued as Martin was in great demand as an independent arranger/producer and The Beatles were less willing to be "led" as they had been in the past. By the time of The Beatles, they were left to produce an increasing number of tracks by themselves.

    • Martin, like most studio producers of the time, was grossly underpaid, earning about $7,000 a year with no producer's royalty - a standard industry practice - and no Christmas bonus. So, in 1965, he left EMI and, along with three colleagues, established an independent production company called AIR (Associated Independent Recording) - which became one of the most successful studios in the world. Today, although officially retired, George is still the chairman of the AIR board - and it remains one of the world's pre-eminent recording studios.

    • In 1964, George was nominated for an Academy Award (Scoring of Music - adaptation or treatment) for his work on The Beatles first film, A Hard Day's Night.

    • Over a ten-year span, Martin was involved with three of the iconic James Bond films. In 1963, he signed Matt Monro to an EMI contract only months before the singer recorded the theme for the second Bond film, From Russia With Love (1963). The next year, Martin himself produced the hit theme (sung by Shirley Bassey) for Goldfinger (1964).
      Later, in addition to composing most of it, he produced, arranged and conducted the entire score for Live and Let Die (1972) - winning a Grammy for his arrangement of the title song by Paul McCartney and Wings (Paul and Linda McCartney were nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar - the first Bond theme to ever be so honored - and, along with George, for a Best Original Score Album Oscar).

    • In 1963, arguably Martin's biggest year, records he produced were number one on the British pop charts for a record 37 weeks out of the year.

    • Besides working with The Beatles, Martin transformed Parlophone into a pop-hit machine, producing several other "British Invasion" musicians - including Gerry and the Pacemakers ("Ferry Cross the Mersey"), Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas ("Bad To Me") and Cilla Black ("You're My World").

    • Although his influence on The Beatles ran the gamut from changing personnel (Ringo) to playing on song after song as far in as "Pepper" - and to scoring, arranging and/or producing almost every track they ever recorded - perhaps George Martin's most profound impact was in helping the boys get their first big hit. John and Paul had balked at Martin's suggested "How Do You Do It" for their first record, wanting only to release their own songs as singles - but, for all its success (and Brian Epstein's help), "Love Me Do" had peaked at #17 on the charts.
      John Lennon had originally conceived "Please Please Me" as a slow, dramatic Roy Orbison-type torch ballad, but Martin demurred, suggesting at the end of the "Love Me Do" session that they speed it up, add some harmonies and "have another go at it" next time. John and Paul added an Everly Brothers touch (as well as their own flair) and turned the slow ballad into a bluesy rocker loaded with pop hooks. After the final take, George told them "Congratulations, gentlemen, you've just made your first number one" - which it became on several charts, including Melody Maker and the BBC's "Pick of The Pops".

    • Impressed more by Brian Epstein than anything else, Martin agreed to sign the unknown Beatles to a recording contract without having met them or seen them play. Martin himself, however, would not sign the contract until he heard an audition - later saying that EMI had "nothing to lose", as the contract paid only one penny for each record sold - to be split five ways between the band and their manager. After the release of "From Me to You", however, Martin, the youngest head of any EMI label, without asking for a thing in return, suggested to EMI that the royalty rate be doubled, which led to him being thought of as a "traitor" by some at the company.

    • Martin gave The Beatles, who had previously been turned down by Decca, Pye, Phillips and EMI itself, their first recording contract, signing the "fledgling foursome" after an audition at Abbey Road studio on June 6th, 1962.

    • Seeking out new, untapped markets for the quiet, little label, Martin produced a string of hit comedy records by artists such as Peter Sellers, Peter Ustinov, Spike Milligan, Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Bernard Cribbins - recordings which gave him great cache with the young Beatles when they later met (especially with both being big fans of the wacky radio program, The Goon Show).

    • Hired in 1950 to oversee Parlophone's classical repertoire, Martin soon began working with the label's established jazz artists - including, among others, Stan Getz, Judy Garland and Cleo Laine.

    • Although it ended before he saw combat, during WWII, Martin served in the British Fleet Air Arm (1943-1947), becoming a pilot and a commissioned officer.

    • When he was six-years-old, his parents got a piano and George took lessons. Once his mother clashed with the teacher, however, the lessons ended and he had to teach himself to play by ear. After World War II, encouraged by his mentor, Sidney Harrison, George studied classical music orchestration and composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

    • George Martin has been married twice and has four children. He married Sheena Chisholm (1948) after his military service and the couple had two children - Alexis and Gregory. After a divorce in 1965, he married Judy Lockhart-Smith (1966) and they also had two children - Lucy and Giles. It is Giles who seems to be the keeper of the family's musical flame. Discouraged by his father, Miles went into music anyway, becoming a successful mixer and producer, as well as a budding composer and multi-instrumentalist. Father and son worked together on both The Beatles Anthology and Love projects - sharing two Grammy Awards for the Love album.

  • Quotes

    • George Martin: Of all the arts, music is the most sublime, and touches the heart of every human being.

    • George Martin: Money is like love. It's only important if you don't have it.

    • George Martin: One day six years ago, I opened an envelope which bore the marking of the prime minister. It said: "It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been recommended to be appointed a knight by Her Majesty the Queen. If you wish to accept this honor, please let us know by filling in the enclosed form. You will not hear from us again." I went white and said, "Bloody hell!" My wife thought something awful had happened. I couldn't speak, so I gave the letter to her. She read it, went white, and said, "Bloody hell!" We went to Buckingham Palace, and the Queen got her sword out and tried not to cut my head off.

    • George Martin: The only thing I yearn for is recordings that are more spontaneous. Today everything is so clinically controlled, and everything is so meticulously accurate … This worries me because I think the heart is going, and I'd like to get back to humanity and mistakes.

    • George Martin: If I think of a very good idea, I don't trumpet it and say: "This is what we should do, fellas!" I say, "What do you think?" And the musician starts to think. And after a while, you get the musician to think that he actually came up with the idea.

    • George Martin: The greatest attribute a producer can have is the ability to see the whole picture. Most artists, when they record something, don't listen to the whole thing. They listen to what they're doing. It's a bit like when you're a kid and you look at a school photograph of a hundred kids. The first thing you say is: Where am I? Same with a musician. When the music is played back, he'll be listening to himself. The producer must sit back, view the whole thing in perspective, and make sense of it.

    • George Martin: If there is one person I would have to select as a living genius of pop music, it would be Brian Wilson.

    • George Martin: Without Pet Sounds, Sgt Pepper wouldn't have happened … "Pepper" was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.

    • George Martin: Looking back on "Pepper", it was quite an icon. It probably did change the face of recording so it became a different kind of art form.

    • George Martin: If I had been doing drugs at the time The Beatles were doing drugs, I doubt you'd have got the records you've got now.

    • George Martin: I must emphasize that it was a team effort. Without my arrangements and scoring, very many of the records would not have sounded as they
      do. Whether they would have been any better, I cannot say. They might have been. That is not modesty on my part; it is an attempt to give a factual picture of the relationship. But equally, there is no doubt in my mind that the main talent of that whole era came from Paul and John. We were not all five equal people artistically; two very strong, and the other three were also-rans. In varying degrees those three could have been other people.

    • George Martin: John Lennon was always looking for the impossible, the unattainable. He was never satisfied. He once said to me, years later, "You know, George, I've never really liked anything we've ever done." I said, "Really John? But you made some fantastic records!" He said, "Well, if I could do them all over again I would."

    • George Martin: Tape and electronics have brought enormous new feel to music. It's surprising what you can do once you have a sound recorded on tape.

    • George Martin: You'd use recorded effects and then they'd have to come off discs. So we tried to make our own, and we used to have all sorts of things. We used to have roller skates for making train noises over rails and I remember once trying to effect the noise of someone's head being chopped off. I used a cabbage for that, it was very effective.

    • George Martin: In Yellow Submarine, we used chains that were there and all sorts of bowls and things. And of course, we used bowls of water too. And bottles with straws, blowing them into the water, to get the effect of submarines surfacing, that kind of thing. It was nice to do because it, we were all being very inventive. And it was fun, it was like a party almost.

    • George Martin: If I could abolish one thing in the world, it would be the television set. Of course, I have one in my house and I watch the soaps as well as anybody else.

    • George Martin: I'm almost completely deaf in my left ear. And my right ear is down to about 20 percent. It was pretty good for most of my life, but over the past five years, it's deteriorated very much. It's partly listening to all that loud music. But I think it's also old age. If you walk along the street when you're seventy-six, bits fall off you and you have to pick them up and put them in your pocket.

    • George Martin: Music is at the core of our being. Can you imagine a woman rearing a child and not humming to it? It's as natural as breathing.