George Martin, Beatles Producer, Passes Away

1980s --- Prominent recording producer George Martin sits in a studio next to a sound board. Martin is best known for his work with the Beatles. --- Image by © Martyn Goddard/CORBIS

By James H. Burns: When I was a little boy in the 1960s, listening to the AM radio, I was transfixed by “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” the Gerry and the Pacemakers hit, written by Gerry Marsden, and produced by George Martin, who passed yesterday, at the age of 90.

Those strings, and ambience, and that of other songs produced by Martin (as well as other music of the era!), made me feel as though I were going to another world, seeing, or feeling, another time.

Martin’s far more famous collaboration, of course, was as the producer, and  sometimes arranger, for the Beatles, working with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. It was in the spring and summer of 1973 that I made the dual discovery of the legendary band, and Star Trek.

Of course, I had been familiar with both beforehand!  (Can one have been of any age in the 1960s, and not known the Beatles?)

But it was then that I fell in love with both. To me, there was a direct correlation between the wonderful new worlds of Trek, and other science fiction and celluloid endeavors, and the music of the Beatles,  Those sweeping harmonies and amazing bits of magic were to me the happy soundtrack of not just our years, but another universe, albeit one existing parallel with our own!

(And most often, the tunes were simply just good, lovely fun!)

Martin’s work was also a part of such fantasy films as the Beatles’ BBC television special, Magical Mystery Tour (much maligned, originally, but rarely given credit as one of the clear precursors to Monty Python), and 1968’s animated Yellow Submarine.

He also composed the scores for such films as the James Bond opus, Live And Let Die, The Optimists of Nine Elms and Pulp.

In a story that may be apocryphal, when beginning work on Live And Let Die, Martin reportedly told one of the Bond series producers that he could probably get Paul McCartney to compose and record the title track for the movie.

The producer said, “Oh, great. Have the kid send me a demo,” apparently not recognizing the name!

Happily, many of their realms of melody continue to endure in so many hearts at home, and indeed have been played, among the stars above.

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10 thoughts on “George Martin, Beatles Producer, Passes Away

  1. @James H. Burns, should that be “much maligned” rather than “much aligned”?

  2. Another Beatle gone. Seriously, a Beatle and a half. His contribution was immense, and the lads were well served by his creative input. So many examples, but just think about the fairground organ tapestry he created to go behind “Mr. Kite.”

    MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, man. I was so eager to finally see that as a teenager, and was of course disappointed, but I came to like the movie after my expectations were reset, and it was the first I’d ever seen of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (complete with Jan Carson peeling off) too.

  3. My wife reports from long long time ago, she encountered someone who was an opera signer and very devoted to her craft. She took her out for a lunch. And on the jukebox was a singer she had never heard before, and she praised the voice for its strong quality. It was Barry Manilow singing.

    So it is possible to be isolated within your culture from other parts of your culture.

  4. Gerry and the Pacemakers were great. Another unforgettable song of their’s is “Don’t let the Sun catch you crying”. At least George lived to be 90. More than poor John Lennon got.

  5. I just reread all of this. I miss my friend James H Burns who died last May. What a great writer and talent he was. Very sad.

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