Sir George Martin has produced more
than 700 records in a career that has spanned nearly half a century. Yet
his towering achievement was manning the recording controls behind the
bulk of the Beatles' albums and singles.
George Martin was born
January 3, 1926, in Holloway, North London. Martin taught himself to play
piano by ear.
When he was 16, Martin was a key part of his school
dance band. Beginning in 1943, he served with the British Fleet Air Arm as
an observer in planes and eventually became a lieutenant.
Martin studied composition and classical music orchestration in London's
Guildhall School of Music. Three years later, he was hired as assistant to
the head of EMI's Parlophone Records and assigned to oversee the label's
Martin also began producing for artists such
as Cleo Laine, Stan Getz and Judy Garland. He also produced a number of
hit comedy albums for acts such as Peter Ustinov, Peter Cook and Dudley
Moore, and Spike Milligan and the Goon Show (with Peter
In 1955, at age 29, Martin was made head of Parlophone
Records, becoming one of the youngest people to
reach such as position to that point.
Years later, he was looking for pop acts, just as
Beatles manager Brian Epstein was shopping his group
to record companies. Even though he knew the Beatles
had been turned down by other major labels, Martin
In June 1962, the Beatles entered EMI's Abbey Road
studio to make their first records (including their
debut single, "Love Me Do") for Martin. It was the
beginning of a legendary collaboration that
produced, over the course of the '60s, one of the
greatest bodies of music in the history of rock.
Epstein said in his 1964 autobiography "A Cellarful
of Noise": "... from that moment on they have been a
dream of a team."
One of Martin's early contributions to the Beatles'
canon was the changing of "Please Please Me" from a
ballad into an upbeat single that became the
Beatles' first UK #1.
Martin shepherded the Beatles' early albums and made
significant contributions as they expanded their
musical horizons on such LPs as Rubber Soul (1965),
Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club
Martin also produced other Merseyside acts such as
Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer. In
1963, records produced by Martin held the number one
position on British charts for a record 37 weeks.
Over his entire career, Martin notched 31 #1 UK
After the Beatles' 1970 breakup, Martin worked with
former Beatle Paul McCartney, America, Jeff Beck,
Ultravox and others.
Martin scored a number of films including the
Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" (1964) and "Yellow
Submarine" (1968) as well as the movie "Live and Let
Die" (1973), for which he won a Grammy Award.
In 1987 Martin produced a documentary marking the
25th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper that won the Palme
d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. He also
spearheaded "Rhythm of Life," a BBC-TV series about
Martin co-produced the three Beatles' Anthology CDs
in 1995 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth the
following year. Last year, along with McCartney,
Martin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of
He issued In My Life (1999), which featured such
artists as Jim Carrey and Goldie Hawn singing
Martin often tours, conducting performances of his
own orchestral arrangements and giving multimedia
presentations on the making of Sgt. Pepper.
The most recent #1 single produced by Martin was
Elton John's "Candle in the Wind '97," a tribute to
Princess Diana that became the biggest-selling
single in history.
Martin is also the author of several books,
including "Summer of Love" (known as "With a Little
Help From My Friends" in the U.S.), which chronicles
the making of Sgt. Pepper.