'Fifth Beatle' dies
Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, producer George Martin, and John Lennon in 1964
Ringo Starr pays tribute to the band's longtime producer George Martin
GEORGE MARTIN, THE Beatles producer and arranger who supervised most of the band's era-defining recordings - from Love Me Do through the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to their final collaborations on Abbey Road - has died at the age of 90, according to Ringo Starr. Starr, the Beatles drummer, spread the word of Martin's death through a Twitter message late Tuesday.
"God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara. George will be missed," Starr said on Twitter. Starr followed the message by posting a photo of the Fab Four with Martin, saying "Thank you for all your love and kindness George."
British PM David Cameron called Beatles producer George Martin 'a giant of music' after Ringo Starr's tweets.
Martin was an EMI staff producer who had the foresight and the ear to sign a band that had been turned down by virtually every other major label in London in 1962, before Starr was a full-fledged member. Martin signed the group from Liverpool to the Parlophone imprint he oversaw before meeting the members on the strength of demo tapes shopped by manager Brian Epstein. He often said in interviews that he was initially impressed as much by their wit and natural charm as he was by their musical abilities. In a story that has become Beatles legend, as Martin showed the group around the EMI recording studio at their first extended recording session, he asked if there was anything they didn't like about the configuration of the studio. Guitarist George Harrison quickly responded: "For starters, I don't like your tie." Martin proved to be a huge influence on the group's sound - he famously suggested they speed up the tempo of Please, Please Me, turning a Roy Orbison-esque ballad into a rocker that marked the Beatles' first No. 1 record in Britain. Perhaps most significantly, he expressed his faith in John Lennon and Paul McCartney as songwriters by conceding to their demand to record their own material and rebuffing his suggestion that the pop tune How Do You Do It be their first single.
Through the band's ups and downs in the late 1960s, Martin remained a constant for the Beatles, a figure who commanded respect from Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison no matter how fierce the in-fighting was among the foursome. Martin's skill as a producer and arranger allowed the band to flourish as they evolved from recording the material they'd worked out on stage for years in clubs to the more intricate recordings found on the 1965 album Rubber Soul and 1966's Revolver. He helped them arrange strings for Yesterday and work with more exotic instruments such as the Indian sitar that Harrison began experimenting with on such songs as Norwegian Wood.
Martin worked with a range of other artists during and after the Beatles' era, from Cilla Black to Tom Jones to America to solo works by Paul McCartney. But it was his success with the Beatles that made Martin one of the most famous record producers of all time.