LONDON, March 9 (UPI) — Legendary Beatles producer George Martin, often called “the Fifth Beatle” and the man responsible for signing the rock giants to a record contract, has died. He was 90.
The producer, arranger, musician and executive produced 23 no. 1 singles in the United States and 30 in the United Kingdom. Martin produced nearly every song the Beatles put to record and played a major role in the band’s experimentation in the studio.
Martin died peacefully at home, his management said.
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr tweeted, “God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy [Martin’s wife of nearly 50 years] and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed xxx,” in response to the news.
Martin was born in born in London January 3, 1926. He developed a love of music at an early age and taught himself piano. After leaving the Royal Navy in 1947, he set off for a career in music.
He joined EMI Records’ Parlophone label in the early 1950s and was asked to manage the label in 1955 when he was just 29 years old. He built the label around mostly classical music, but later added comedy and pop music.
It was his signing of the Beatles in 1962 that not only changed the label, but music history and popular culture. Every other label had passed on the act, but he saw something in John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best. They band would later replace Best with Starr.
Martin would prove essential in guiding the band from the clubs of Liverpool into musical pioneers. He his arrangements for songs like “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby” would broaden the band’s musical scope and his ability at creating “sound pictures,” as Martin called them, played a major role in making an album like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band a turning point in rock history.
Over the course of his long career, Martin also produced other acts like America, Cheap Trick, Jeff Beck, Elton John, Ultravox, Shirley Bassey, and Celine Dion. He also worked with McCartney on solo records.
He won the Grammy for producing Sgt. Pepper in 1967 and later, was given the Grammy Foundation Leadership Award. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1996 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
“Would I like to do something again? No, I wouldn’t want to do anything again. I’m not a person to look back,” he told Rock Cellar in 2013. “I don’t honestly think I could do anything better than what we did.”