George Martin supplied exactly what Beatles needed

LONDON -- He was a quiet man, urbane and sophisticated, impeccably dressed, loyal to the queen and fond of his Rolls-Royce motor car -- and he played a pivotal role in the transformation of four scruffy young lads from Liverpool into the most influential rock band in history.

See Full Article

Under George Martin's magisterial guidance, the Beatles transcended pop culture and created music that has stood the test of time. The work they produced has been covered and copied for decades, played as reggae music or chamber music or given a salsa beat.

It has been more than half a century since Martin heard what better-known executives had missed and took a gamble on the Beatles, transforming their raw, atomic energy into an early run of infectious hits that captured the optimism of the early 1960s.

It turned out he had a sharp instincts, proclaiming "Boys, that's your first number one" just moments after they laid down "Please Please Me" in the Abbey Road Studios.

As the Beatles grew, he provided the classical background and willingness to innovate that paved the way for melancholy, mature songs like "Eleanor Rigby", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "A Day In the Life."

It is impossible to try and separate his contribution from that of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. It was simply a magical mix: the horn flourishes on "Penny Lane," the harpsichord on "In My Life" and the elegant introduction to "Ticket To Ride" are collaborations in the truest sense.

The Lennon-McCartney songwriting team has taken its rightful place in the pantheon, joining the giants who produced the great American songbook. And it was Martin's subtle work that helped make so many of the recordings unforgettable.

Hearing of Martin's death, McCartney Wednesday cited the producers work's on "Yesterday" as a prime example of the master's easy touch. It was Martin who suggested the string quartet that helped turn what might have been just another ballad into one of the world's most beloved, and most covered, songs.

Their styles at first seemed to clash: Martin was a product of the British establishment the Beatles loved to lampoon, and even his necktie drew early scorn from Harrison. He was not a rocker who worshipped at the church of Chuck Berry and Little Richard, preferring symphonic music and comedy records, and he was not steeped in the American blues tradition so revered by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the other British invaders.

The Beatles developed a famous fondness for marijuana and LSD, indulgences that held no interest for Martin. But his open-minded approach helped them integrate Indian music and dreamy, fanciful imagery into their songs without losing their shape, structure or propulsive beat.

Martin was at first skeptical of Starr's drumming ability, using a stand-in on an early disk, but later gave Starr free rein to develop the unique, subtle style heard on "Rain", "She Said" and other time-bending songs.

Consider the Beatles' collective good fortune: while Elvis Presley's musical legacy was squandered to a degree by Col. Tom Parker's crude management style, and his preference for Hollywood over Memphis, the Beatles always had Martin's support and exquisite taste.

When Brian Wilson tried to move the Beach Boys beyond their tried-and-true hit single formula, he met resistance from some band members who didn't want to risk of alienating their core audience. When the four Beatles tried to push that same envelope, Martin's response was: "Let's go."

And when the Rolling Stones tried to make a psychedelic album, the result was the much maligned "Their Satanic Majesties Request," remembered primarily for a novelty 3-D album cover. The Beatles and Martin had already done so much better with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

There was never a George Martin scandal. He stayed on the sidelines when the Beatles suffered their acrimonious breakup.

When Lennon later lashed out at him -- even criticizing his producing work -- Martin held his tongue.

He enjoyed a long, productive recording career post-Beatles, and in later years became a regal, spectral presence who graced the occasional public event.

Martin was seen at the Royal Festival Hall when Brian Wilson first performed his long-delayed masterwork "Smile" and helped organize a Buckingham Palace concert honouring Queen Elizabeth II on her Golden Jubilee in 2002.

He led the very British "hip hip hooray" in her majesty's honour after the encore.

It was fitting that in one of his final public appearances Martin was leading tributes for someone else. He never boasted of his musical accomplishments, but they have grown in stature over time and will be enjoyed as long as recorded music is played.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • 'Lego Batman' stays No. 1, conquers 'The Great Wall'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- "The Lego Batman Movie" commanded the Presidents Day weekend box office, staying No. 1 for the second straight week, while the China-focused "The Great Wall" failed to show much muscle in North America. Source
  • Brian Mulroney sings for Donald Trump

    Entertainment CBC News
    Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, attending a fundraising gala with Donald Trump, was called to the stage Saturday night to sing a tune he performed alongside another U.S. president more than 30 years ago. Music producer David Foster said Mulroney could sing either Danny Boy or When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, and the man who was prime minister from 1984 to 1993 chose the latter, which he, Ronald Reagan and others sang in 1985 at what became known as the Shamrock Summit in Quebec…
  • James Brown's 'Funky Drummer' Clyde Stubblefield dead at 73

    Entertainment CBC News
    Clyde Stubblefield, a drummer for James Brown who created one of the most widely sampled drum breaks ever, died Saturday. He was 73. His wife, Jody Hannon, told The Associated Press that Stubblefield died of kidney failure at a Madison, Wisconsin, hospital around noon. Source
  • Remembering Stuart: What everyday act of an ordinary person in your community do you think should be honoured?

    Entertainment CBC News
    Sunday on Cross Country Checkup: remembering Stuart Long-time radio storyteller and journalist, Stuart McLean died on Wednesday after a long battle with melanoma cancer. McLean welcomed listeners every Sunday into the world of The Vinyl Cafe, a radio program of essays, short stories and music, with his magnanimous voice and his keen ability to connect with strangers. Source
  • Shia LaBeouf takes anti-Trump performance to New Mexico

    Entertainment CTV News
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Actor Shia LaBeouf has brought a performance-art piece against President Donald Trump to New Mexico's largest city. The Albuquerque Journal reports that LaBeouf, along with two other artists, brought on Saturday a 24-hour live-streaming camera mounted to a wall with the message in block letters: "He will not divide us," referring to Trump. Source
  • ‘Big Little Lies’, ‘The Good Fight’ and the final season of ‘Bates Motel’ tops this week’s TV must-sees

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Bill Harris' TV must-sees for the week of Feb. 19 1. Big Little Lies Debut In an affluent community, a suspicious death at an elementary school fundraiser (could it be anything other than suspicious in that venue?) draws attention to the friction between some of the mothers. Source
  • Anna Paquin busts TV stereotypes as Bellevue's flawed female lead

    Entertainment CBC News
    A female lead unlike what we typically see onscreen is what drew Anna Paquin to star in CBC's new crime drama Bellevue. "Annie is kind of everything that you don't normally get to see in female characters in mainstream TV or films," said Paquin, who leads the eerie new series as police detective Annie Ryder — a single mom who's a bit of a misfit in her community because of a strange and troubled past. Source
  • Lana Del Rey drops new single 'Love'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Lana Del Rey has just dropped a new single entitled Love, her first new music since she released the album Honeymoon in 2015. The singer had earlier sparked rumours of new music by having a series of mysterious posters installed around Los Angeles. Source
  • Lisa Marie Presley says she's broke after ex asks for money

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Lisa Marie Presley describes herself as deeply in debt and just out of a treatment facility in court papers that accuse her estranged fourth husband of having hundreds of inappropriate photographs of children on his computer. Source
  • U2's Bono meets with Mike Pence, calls him 'the 2nd-busiest man on earth'

    Entertainment CBC News
    While in Europe for his first major foreign policy address representing the Trump administration, Mike Pence had an impromptu meeting with U2 frontman Bono. The activist and singer called the vice-president "the second-busiest man on Earth. Source