The Beatles had a fifth unofficial member in the form of their producer, Sir George Martin. He was more than a producer as he served as a friend and a father figure to the four members.
We often celebrate and note the musical contributions made by The Beatles, but Martin was the oil that kept their machine going. To honor him we look at 11 facts about the producer whom George Harrison described as “always there for us to interpret our strangeness.”
1. On September 4, 1962, John Lennon and Paul McCartney first played "Please Please Me" for Martin during their second EMI recording session. The song was originally a slow tempo until the producer suggested they speed it up and it became a hit.
MARTIN’S CONTRIBUTIONS IN 1965
2. In 1965, McCartney finished writing “Yesterday” but the band couldn’t decide on the instruments that should go with the song. Martin came to the rescue when he suggested McCartney plays an acoustic guitar and sing the track by himself.
It was a success and a first for The Beatles.
3. The same year, “In My Life,” a song from a poem about Lennon’s childhood in Liverpool, was written by the singer. The track had space for a solo but the instrument for it was an issue again.
The band’s producer saved the day once more when he “put down a baroque piano solo” while the members were having a tea break. Martin’s desired effect was done “with a half-speed piano” that was sped up and Lennon liked the end result.
WORKING ON 1966 & 67’S SONGS
4. In 1966, “For No One” was created with McCartney singing the solo from a French horn. He hummed a note that was off the scale of the instrument and was pretty much impossible to play.
Martin told the band member the dilemma but this didn’t stop McCartney from wanting to make the impossible possible. In the end, the two worked together with Alan Civil who was able to hit the high note.
5. 1967’s “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” had lyrics taken from an antique circus poster. McCartney wanted the track to have a carnival atmosphere; Martin achieved this effect by taking recordings from different fairground organs.
He broke them apart and reassembled the tape fragments to get the desired effect.
INDIAN INSTRUMENTS & PLAYING PIANO
6. “Within You Without You” was written the same year by Harrison. Martin created the East-meets-West arrangement and blended Indian instruments with a string section.
7. In 1967, “Lovely Rita” was created with the producer playing the tricky piano parts of the song. "Rocky Raccoon" also had the pleasure of Martin’s piano touch.
“STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER”
8. “Strawberry Fields Forever” from 1967, had two versions recorded, one with Martin's orchestral arrangements, and a gentler one. Lennon couldn’t decide as he like certain parts from both versions.
The producer suggested: “'Why don't you join the beginning of the first one to the end of the second one?'" However, being in two different keys and tempos, Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick had to physically join the track.
Using two tape machines and a pair of scissors the two men were able to adjust the speed on both versions and cut them together at the 60-second mark.
USING BACH’S MUSIC
9. The same year, another hit was made with “All You Need Is Love.” The song was recorded live on a television special which was broadcast by satellite. Martin created the fade-out of the track with fragments of "Greensleeves," Bach's Invention No. 8 in F Major.
The Holloway, London, born producer nearly got in trouble for copyright infringement for incorporating the swing classic "In the Mood."
A 1968 SONG TITLE
10. In 1968, Martin named The Beatle’s song, “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” He came up with the name from a gun magazine cover and “thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say.”
In an interview, he said: “A warm gun means you just shot something."
A MEMOIR ABOUT GEORGE
11. In 2017, “Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin” was published by Chicago Review Press in Martin’s honor.
The Beatles had another person who was thought to be their fifth member besides Martin. In the band’s early days, Pete Best played the drums but was removed just before they made it big.
THE “FIFTH BEATLE”