Thank You, George Martin!

Martin at the board at Air Studios, Montserrat
Within minutes of hearing the news of the passing of George Martin at the age of 90, I began to ponder the importance of this one man upon not just my record collection, but the entire world of popular music. It was Martin who first saw potential in four lads from Liverpool when other labels had turned them down. Those labels, to their infinite regret, saw guitar music as a fad. George Martin, however, saw something else.

Never mind that his background at EMI prior to the Beatles' arrival on his doorstep had been devoted to churning out largely unremarkable classical and comedy albums, Martin was now determined to embark on a journey into the world of popular music that nobody in their right mind could have predicted.

Martin and McCartney conferring with Brian Epstein's forehead.
That this company man of sorts for one of the largest corporate entities in Britain would be a willing accomplice in creating the very music that would define the mainstream, but also the counter-culture as well is surely something no one, least of which Martin, could have foreseen.

Would the Beatles have been as great as they wound up being if they hadn't ultimately crossed paths with Martin? In a word, no. If, for example, they'd been signed to Decca instead, the opportunity to work with, much less meet, Martin would have been logistically improbable, as they were two separate companies.

Had the Beatles not ventured into his purview, Martin's career would have progressed as it had, no doubt, and he'd have eventually moved out of the studio and into an executive role within EMI, one would surmise.

That the chemistry between the Beatles and Martin was such that each managed to somehow bring the best out of the other, rewriting the rules as to how a popular band could sound, or act, or look as they went along. Rock & Roll could very well have been a fad that quickly petered out if not for the Beatles' desire to take it places it had never been. And who could it have been who put such thoughts in their head but Martin himself?

Martin in the studio with Ultravox
All the while, he was a man who operated with quiet dignity and a very British sensibility that resonated in everything he did. Thus, it is fitting that his last #1 hit should be as producer of Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle In The Wind 1997".

Personally speaking, I remain immensely fond of his early '80s work; first on UFO's Nowhere To Run and Cheap Trick's All Shook Up in 1980 and on Ultravox's elegiac 1982 masterpiece Quartet. Whether it be a metal band, a pop band or a synth band, Martin knew how to capture performances that brought the material to new heights and, as near as this writer can tell, did so without ever demanding the spotlight for himself, which many a lesser producer has done.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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