March 9, 2016 – George Martin passed away yesterday. Even if you are not a Baby Boomer, you might have heard of the Beatles. It could be argued that they wouldn’t have become THE BEATLES without the guidance of George Martin, their record producer. It was he who persuaded Paul McCartney to add a string quartet to one of the most recorded songs of all time – “Yesterday”. For their first album he had them run through the best of their live act, rather than just recording a catalog of lackluster songs that the executives would have pushed on them. In that album you can hear the energy that came from playing all night sets in Hamburg Germany, sometimes fed on only beer and amphetamines. From Paul counting off the intro to “I Saw Her Standing There” to the final track of John’s spent voice on “Twist and Shout”, you knew you were hearing something special. What made it even more special was the care and guidance that George Martin gave to the group. He produced all but one of their albums and continued working on some of Paul’s solo efforts after their breakup. For Paul McCartney, Martin was “like a second father to me.” [http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/09/entertainment/george-martin-obit/index.html] This paragraph sums it nicely:
The polished, classically trained producer began as a father figure to the four somewhat scruffy lads from Liverpool, capturing their songs on tape with a minimum of fuss or studio gimmickry. But by 1966, he was as much a collaborator as mentor, using his knowledge of both musical structure and recording technology to help the band realize its musical visions.
As I was listening to the NPR story on his death, the word that jumped out to me was “mentor”, even though they didn’t use the phrase in their report. [http://www.npr.org/2016/03/09/469750870/sir-george-martin-the-fifth-beatle-is-dead-at-90] He was a father figure, a guide through new paths, a friend, someone who listened.
John Lennon never really knew his father. Paul McCartney lost his mother in his teens. To me, George Martin was model of what a mentor should be and I hope his role and influence to develop one of the greatest musical acts in history will inspire others to consider making an impact on some young person who could use a little guidance.
The Lone Rider