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gmartin

For whatever reason, there was no recording session on Tuesday, April 12, 1966, and I can’t find any information about what The Beatles might have been up to on that day. So I’d like to take this opportunity to put down a few words about George Martin, ringmaster of the circus that was the making of Beatles records.

Sir George passed away just recently, on March 8 to be exact, at the age of 90. Of all the people who have been called the “Fifth Beatle” over the years, he had the most valid claim to the title. Without his guidance it would have been much more difficult — if not impossible — for The Beatles to become what they did.

When he went to work for EMI Records in 1950, Martin was assigned to the Parlophone imprint — once a somewhat prestigious boutique label, now EMI’s dumping ground for acts they didn’t know what to do with. In his time with Parlophone George Martin — whose background was in classical music — produced numerous comedy records for the likes of Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. And this connection seems important somehow — although The Beatles were not nominally a comedy act, the atmosphere of wackiness surrounding them was a big part of their image, one of the main things that endeared them to people.

What’s more, and I didn’t even know this until just now, in 1962 George Martin released an experimental electronic single called “Time Beat” under the pseudonym “Ray Cathode” (wink, wink). It’s pretty groovy:

All his knowledge and background made Martin uniquely suited to the role of being The Beatles’ producer — he was wide-ranging and open-minded, with no preconceived notions of what a rock’n’roll record should sound like.

The story of how Martin signed for the Beatles and fought for them — the fact that EMI assigned them to Parlophone in the first place demonstrates just how little was expected from them — has been told many times, and we need not get too deep into it here. But George will turn up many, many times in the days and weeks to come. I have his autobiography All You Need Is Ears sitting here waiting to be read, so that’s enough for now.