Magazine article Variety

Beatles' Producer Was an Imaginative Master

Magazine article Variety

Beatles' Producer Was an Imaginative Master

Article excerpt

George martin, who died March 8 at age 90, helped the Beatles leave EMI's fabled Abbey Road studio a very different place than it was when they first set foot in it for their first session together in September 1962.

"A 'right' way of doing things" at the studio, critic Ian MacDonald wrote in 1994, "initially thwarted the accommodation of their sound," but "after seven years of destruction-testing in a dozen Beatles albums, [that way] had completely changed."

Martin, who had signed the Beatles to Parlophone Records and served as their producer, acted as facilitator, technician, occasional sideman and co-visionary for the length of the band's revolutionary career. His impact extended beyond Abbey Road: With his rare combination of taste, intellect, adventurousness and sonic acuity, he altered the course of popular music.

"For me, making a record is like painting a picture in sound," Martin wrote. "Our palette is infinite."

That approach came into play in his later work with others, but it was with his collaboration with the Beatles that he left his most profound and enduring mark.

When manager Brian Epstein came knocking at Martin's door, the Beatles had been rejected by England's other major labels, including Parlophone's parent EMI. In Martin's 1979 autobiography, 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. There was something tangible that made me want to hear more."

Martin's Beatles recordings mated a forceful toughness and a razor-sharp clarity. …

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