Record producer George Martin, called “the fifth Beatle” for his role in helping create the Fab Four’s sound during their brief yet influential career, died yesterday, aged 90.
Drummer Ringo Starr wished Martin “peace and love” on Twitter, and John Lennon’s son, Sean, took to Instagram to say he was “gutted” by the news.
But Paul McCartney, who continued to work with Martin during his solo career, including on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack for the James Bond film “Live and Let Die”, turned to Facebook to post a moving tribute to his mentor, who the Beatle said was “like a second father”.
Martin “left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music,” McCartney said, and was “the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know,” recounting Martin’s genius as they laid down one of the band’s finest hits, ‘Yesterday’.
The band originally envisaged it as a solo performance, with McCartney accompanying himself on guitar, he recounts, when Martin raised the idea of using a string quartet.
The singer pushed back, saying “Oh no George, we are a rock and roll band and I don’t think it’s a good idea”.
Here’s what happened next, according to McCartney:
With the gentle bedside manner of a great producer he said to me, “Let us try it and if it doesn’t work we won’t use it and we’ll go with your solo version”. I agreed to this and went round to his house the next day to work on the arrangement.
He took my chords that I showed him and spread the notes out across the piano, putting the cello in the low octave and the first violin in a high octave and gave me my first lesson in how strings were voiced for a quartet.
When we recorded the string quartet at Abbey Road, it was so thrilling to know his idea was so correct that I went round telling people about it for weeks.
His idea obviously worked because the song subsequently became one of the most recorded songs ever with versions by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and thousands more.
With Martin at the control panel, the Beatles would go on to have 19 No. 1 hits, and later, McCartney would have two more amid 30 chart-toppers produced by Sir George.
McCartney’s full tribute to Martin is below: