George Martin, The ‘Fifth Beatle’

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Sir George Martin died this week at 90. We’ll look at how the “fifth Beatle” revolutionized modern music.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison post in a 1966 publicity photo with their longtime producer and so-called "Fifth Beatle," George Martin. (WikiCommons)
John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison post in a 1966 publicity photo with their longtime producer and so-called "Fifth Beatle," George Martin. (WikiCommons)

When you hear the Beatles, in all their joyful, sassy, creative glory, you hear John and Paul and George and Ringo. You also hear the inventive, eclectic, classically-trained genius of their legendary producer, George Martin. They wore beads. He wore sport coats. He saw their magic. They valued his. Together, they made some of the most amazing music ever. It’s worth digging in to how they did that.  This hour On Point,  Sir George Martin, dead at 90, and his way with the Beatles.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Tim Riley, music critic and professor of journalism at Emerson College. Author of "Tell Me Why: The Beatles: Album by Album, Song by Song, The Sixties and After," "Lennon," and "Fever." (@triley60)

Geoff Emerick, audio engineer. He worked closely with George Martin, and won Grammys for his work on the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Abbey Road" albums. Author of "Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles."

Maura Johnston, writer, editor and music critic. Editor of Maura Magazine, the online culture publication. (@maura)

From Tom’s Reading List

Variety: George Martin: Beatles Producer Expanded the Palette of Pop Music — "From the first sessions in September 1962, Martin’s recordings of the Beatles mated an unprecedented toughness and a razor-sharp clarity. There were initial missteps, to be sure – Martin’s enthusiasm for 'How Do You Do It,' a duff tune penned by a pair of pro songwriters that later became a hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers, or his decision to replace Ringo Starr with studio drummer Andy White on a second version of 'Love Me Do.' But the producer quickly came to respect the musicians’ instincts, and moreover evidenced his ability to execute their vision of new sonic possibilities."

The Guardian: George Martin: the man who changed pop forever (with a little help from his friends) — "Life would have turned out very differently for George Martin had the general manager of a publishing company called Ardmore and Beechwood not rung him in early 1962, suggesting he meet with Brian Epstein to discuss his charges, who had already been turned down by Decca and Pye: he might have remained among EMI’s massed ranks of staff producers, handy with a sound effect when the kind of comedy records he specialised in before he met them demanded it."

Rolling Stone: How George Martin Changed the World — "The most important day of George Martin's career — the day he proved himself the only genius who could have produced the Beatles — was February 11th, 1963, when they recorded their debut album, Please Please Me, in one marathon 13-hour session."


This program aired on March 11, 2016.


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