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Sir George Martin, the ‘Fifth Beatle’ Dies, aged 90

Sir George Martin, the 'Fifth Beatle' Dies, aged 90

The world has lost an honorary member of The Beatles.

Often regarded as “the fifth Beatle,” Sir George Martin has died at 90 years old,Ringo Starr confirmed late Tuesday night.

“God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family,” Starr penned on Twitter in tribute to his longtime colleague and friend. “George will be missed.”

After more than five decades in the music industry, Martin’s career accolades are seemingly endless. As a music producer, composer and arranger, he signed The Beatles to their first recording contract in 1962 after meeting with the band’s manager Brian Epstein at Abbey Road Studios.

The music legend was essential in physically shaping the group’s most iconic tunes, including “Yesterday,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “I Am the Walrus” and “In My Life,” with his distinctive arrangements and featured instrumentals.

Outside of the history-making band, the London-born musician also produced noteworthy hits like Elton John‘s “Candle in the Wind 1997” for Princess Diana and James Bond‘s theme songs “Goldfinger,” sung by Shirley Bassey, and “Live and Let Die,” performed by Beatle Paul McCartney. In 1996, the six-time Grammy winner and Oscar nominee was knighted.

“I’m so sad to hear the news of the passing of dear George Martin. I have so many wonderful memories of this great man that will be with me forever. He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of The Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family. If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George. From the day that he gave The Beatles our first recording contract, to the last time I saw him, he was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know,” 73-year-old McCartney penned on his website in tribute to his beloved friend.

“It’s hard to choose favourite memories of my time with George, there are so many but one that comes to mind was the time I brought the song ‘Yesterday’ to a recording session and the guys in the band suggested that I sang it solo and accompany myself on guitar. After I had done this George Martin said to me, “Paul I have an idea of putting a string quartet on the record”. I said, ‘Oh no George, we are a rock and roll band and I don’t think it’s a good idea.’ With the gentle bedside manner of a great producer he said to me, Let us try it and if it doesn’t work we won’t use it and we’ll go with your solo version.’ I agreed to this and went round to his house the next day to work on the arrangement,” the statement continued.

“He took my chords that I showed him and spread the notes out across the piano, putting the cello in the low octave and the first violin in a high octave and gave me my first lesson in how strings were voiced for a quartet. When we recorded the string quartet at Abbey Road, it was so thrilling to know his idea was so correct that I went round telling people about it for weeks. His idea obviously worked because the song subsequently became one of the most recorded songs ever with versions by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and thousands more,” he added.

“This is just one of the many memories I have of George who went on to help me with arrangements on ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Live and Let Die’ and many other songs of mine. I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such a keen sense of humour, who had the ability to poke fun at himself. Even when he was Knighted by the Queen there was never the slightest trace of snobbery about him. My family and I, to whom he was a dear friend, will miss him greatly and send our love to his wife Judy and their kids Giles and Lucy, and the grandkids. The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music.”

John Lennon‘s son Sean Lennon also expressed his sympathies to Martin’s family on Instagram, writing, “I am so gutted I don’t have many words.”

R.I.P. George Martin. I’m so gutted I don’t have many words. Thinking of Judy and Giles and family. Love Always, Sean

A photo posted by Sean Ono Lennon (@sean_ono_lennon) on

The Recording Academy hailed Martin as a visionary with a lasting industry impression.

“We are very saddened to learn about the passing of six-time GRAMMY Award winner and Trustees Award recipient Sir George Martin. As many fans of the Beatles know, George’s work as producer, engineer, arranger, conductor, and musician was instrumental to the massive success of the group, and he was fondly referred to as ‘the fifth Beatle,'” the statement read. “Having worked on hundreds of recordings, he was one of the most innovative producers of all time and his impact on music is unparalleled. Our creative community has lost a gifted artist, and our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, and the many musicians with whom he collaborated.”

Martin is survived by his wife of 50 years, Judy Lockhart Smith, and his four children.

“RIP dad. I love you. I’m so proud to have been your son. I’ll miss you more than words can say,” son Giles Martin expressed on Twitter. “Thank you for the all times we had together.”


by Samantha Schnurr



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