Late last evening, March 8, Ringo Starr took to Twitter with a loving message of sad news: "God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed xxx."
With the passing of Sir George Martin at the age of 90, the world has lost one of the most influential producers of all time. Had Martin "only" produced the majority of The Beatles' recordings, his place in the pantheon of history would have been assured. But Martin's contributions to music and popular culture went beyond his remarkable work with The Fab Four. By the time of his first collaboration with John, Paul, George and Ringo, Martin was already an accomplished producer. He had mastered the piano and oboe as well as the arts of orchestration, conducting and composition - all skills he brought to the table when he joined Parlophone Records in 1950. He began at the label as an assistant, and within five years was running the label.
Among his varied projects at the eclectic Parlophone label, George Martin produced pioneering comedy records by Peter Sellers and beautiful pop recordings by Matt Monro - along with classical, light music, soundtracks, cast recordings and more. Concurrent with his Beatles work, he shepherded the career of Cilla Black and also helmed key recordings from Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and Shirley Bassey. Leading "The George Martin Orchestra," he became a successful recording artist in his own right, as well.
When The Beatles broke up, he continued to have success both as owner of AIR Studios and a freelance producer. It's no surprise that this renaissance man with a diverse C.V. took on recordings from a wide array of artists including America, Jeff Beck, Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Webb and Cheap Trick. He scored more hits via periodic reunions with his old friend Paul McCartney and took his responsibility seriously of stewarding The Beatles' catalogue into the compact disc era and keeping the band's legacy alive for new generations of fans. In one of his final major projects, Martin undertook the task - in collaboration with his son Giles - of remixing The Beatles' hits for the phenomenally successful Las Vegas production of LOVE. He lived long enough to look back on his extraordinary career on a retrospective box set, Produced by George Martin, and a documentary film of the same name.
George Martin epitomized the gentleman as he served as producer, arranger, mentor and creative foil to "the boys" back in Abbey Road Studios, and as he aged into an elder statesman of the industry. Though he often shied away from the title of "The Fifth Beatle," few could possibly be as deserving. He titled his 1979 memoir All You Need is Ears; the title not only played on the famous Fab lyric but also exuded a certain modesty. He certainly had ears, yes - but he also had dedication, craft, and a command of the studio that led to some of the most beloved recordings of all time. Such a contribution can't be understated. If, in fact, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make, we can rest assured that George Martin must have taken quite a bit of love in his 90 years - for the love that his music-making has inspired will always endure.