George Martin: Beatles Producer Expanded the Palette of Pop Music

George Martin: Beatles Producer Expanded the Palette of Pop Music

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Music Reporter

Fifteen years ago, George Martin — who began his career as a producer of classical recordings – created a series of classical anthologies for an L.A. independent label. To celebrate the event, the company invited a select few guests to a dinner for Martin in Beverly Hills.
He joined us like someone out of a dream, but familiar, as we’d come to know him from countless TV interviews about his work with the Beatles. Dapper. Elegant. Intelligent. Soft-spoken but precise in conversation. And, of course, a careful listener.

Everyone at the table sat in awe, and hung on his every word. At one point, he began to talk about the way records were mastered at EMI’s studio in Abbey Road. Turning to me, he leaned in and asked rhetorically, “And what principle do you think governed the mechanics of mastering?” I opened my mouth but just shrugged. “Gravity,” he said with a faint smile, and then he went on to explain how simple gravitational physics were employed to run the studio’s mastering lathe at a consistent speed.

A master class, in more ways than one. George Martin proved that mastery again and again over time, most dramatically in his work with the Beatles, which encompassed some of the greatest imaginative leaps in the history of recorded music. Few other figures so refined and redefined the role of producer as he did.

RIP to my musical brother George Martin. We were friends since 1964, & I am so thankful 4 that gift. Bless u & your precious posse 4ever.❤️Q

Perhaps it was because he could hear things others could not. When Brian Epstein came knocking at Martin’s door at Parlophone Records in April 1962, the Beatles had been rejected by England’s other major labels, including the parent of Martin’s imprint, EMI. In his 1979 autobiography “All You Need is Ears,” he recalled that he wasn’t knocked out by the demo Epstein played for him.

“But…there was an unusual quality of sound, a certain roughness that I hadn’t encountered before,” Martin wrote. “There was also the fact that more than one person was singing, which in itself was unusual. There was something tangible that made me want to hear more, meet them and see what they could do.” And thus, after cutting a new demo session that June, he signed the group to the label.

Read more at Variety.com