Ex-Beatles Pay Tribute to George Martin

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Tribute to George Martin via The Beatles' Facebook page

Tribute to George Martin via The Beatles’ Facebook page

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have expressed their admiration for Beatles producer George Martin who died March 8, 2016. McCartney referred to him “as a second father” and shared a remarkable story about Martin’s instincts about recording “Yesterday” (see below). George Harrison’s widow Olivia and son Dhani also shared their grief on Martin’s passing.

When it comes to performer-producer relationships, there was The Beatles collaborations with Martin and then there was everyone else. The Parlophone Records executive famously met with pre-Fab Four manager Brian Epstein in 1962 after all other British record labels had passed on the quartet. Martin signed them soon after.

One of Martin’s first decisions was to replace then-Beatles drummer Pete Best who had been with the group since 1960. Following the June 1962 Beatles audition for Martin, the producer had concerns about the steadiness of Best’s time. In August Epstein informed the drummer he was being let go. Starr was hired to replace him.

As Best Classic Bands wrote in our obituary, it was Ringo Starr who broke the news late Tuesday evening when he tweeted the news.


Click here to read tributes to Martin from fellow music legends.

On his Facebook page, Paul McCartney wrote his own loving tribute on Wednesday morning:

I’m so sad to hear the news of the passing of dear George Martin. I have so many wonderful memories of this great man that will be with me forever. He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of The Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family. If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George. From the day that he gave The Beatles our first recording contract, to the last time I saw him, he was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

It’s hard to choose favourite memories of my time with George, there are so many but one that comes to mind was the time I brought the song ‘Yesterday’ to a recording session and the guys in the band suggested that I sang it solo and accompany myself on guitar. After I had done this George Martin said to me, “Paul I have an idea of putting a string quartet on the record”. I said, “Oh no George, we are a rock and roll band and I don’t think it’s a good idea”. With the gentle bedside manner of a great producer he said to me, “Let us try it and if it doesn’t work we won’t use it and we’ll go with your solo version”. I agreed to this and went round to his house the next day to work on the arrangement.

He took my chords that I showed him and spread the notes out across the piano, putting the cello in the low octave and the first violin in a high octave and gave me my first lesson in how strings were voiced for a quartet. When we recorded the string quartet at Abbey Road, it was so thrilling to know his idea was so correct that I went round telling people about it for weeks. His idea obviously worked because the song subsequently became one of the most recorded songs ever with versions by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and thousands more.

Uncredited photo via Paul McCartney's Facebook page

Uncredited photo via Paul McCartney’s Facebook page

This is just one of the many memories I have of George who went on to help me with arrangements on ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Live and Let Die’ and many other songs of mine.

I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such a keen sense of humour, who had the ability to poke fun at himself. Even when he was Knighted by the Queen there was never the slightest trace of snobbery about him.

My family and I, to whom he was a dear friend, will miss him greatly and send our love to his wife Judy and their kids Giles and Lucy, and the grandkids.

The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music.
God bless you George and all who sail in you!


And on George Harrison’s Facebook page comes this tribute:

George Martin was a gentleman above all. May he rest in peace. He was so kind to Dhani and I and of course our George thought the world of him. He will be terribly missed. Our thoughts are with Judy and all the family at this sad time.

-Olivia and Dhani

Best Classic Bands Staff

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