Just How Important was George Martin to The Beatles?

Six Legendary ProducersMark Ronson, Jimmy Jam, Joe Henry, Alan Parsons, Peter Asher & Judith Sherman, Discuss The Impact of “the Fifth Beatle.”

“I highly doubt there is one song I have ever worked on that didn’t have some influence of George Martin.”

– Mark Ronson

George Martin, who died in March of 2016, was, of course, the producer of The Beatles. He was not only the man guiding the creation of their records, but also the one responsible for getting them signed to the label at which he was employed, EMI – the UK company of which Capitol is an American wing.

But all labels, both in the UK and the US, initially rejected them, based on the erroneous assumption that solo artists, not bands, were all the record-buying public wanted.

George Martin, a classically-trained musician who was beloved by The Beatles, and others, for his comedy recordings with The Goon Show starring Peter Sellers, usually saw things in accord with the company. Yet he heard something singular in the music of this band. Even when doing covers (and they played a vast assortment of these, from a bounty of Buddy Holly songs to odd, though always beautifully Beatle-ized songs such as “Besame Mucho” and “Til There Was You,” from the musical The Music Man), there was a singular electricity alive in their sound. Little did he know that Lennon and McCartney would soon evolve into one of the greatest songwriting teams of all time.

So be brought the lads to the studio, and allowed them to do their thing. Live. A few takes. They’d alreadty served their time in Hamburg, and were a seriously tight, rocking unit. And it was done. With that Martin managed to get The Beatles signed. The rest truly is history, and one which has impacted our world forever.

The degree and dimension of Martin’s contribution as producer has been the subject of much discussion over the years, and some dispute. Lennon said, at one point, that Martin never produced them, that they produced themselves. Geoff Emerick, their chief engineer, expressed frustration with Martin for taking credit for Geoff’s ideas and hands-on work.

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One thought on “Just How Important was George Martin to The Beatles?”

  1. What a great quote, thanks for posting Richard.
    Joe Henry: There’s a distinct difference between performing your club act in front of expensive microphones for posterity, and the act of thoughtful and deliberate record making. In pursuit of the latter, George Martin defined what it meant to use the written song as a reference map, and then create and discover a landscape upon which its story might flourish. [He] employed the studio as an instrument unto itself —not merely to document an experience, but create one.

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