And in the end: R.I.P. Sir George Martin

By Dennis Hartley

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1926-2016

Well, the Heavenly Choir just got themselves one hell of an arranger.

In my 2012 review of the film Produced by George Martin, I wrote:

While no one can deny the inherent musical genius of the Beatles, it’s worth speculating whether it would have reached the same dizzying heights of creativity and artistic growth (and over the same 7-year period) had the lads never crossed paths with Sir George Martin. It’s a testament to the unique symbiosis between the Fabs and their gifted producer that one can’t think of one without also thinking of the other. Yet there is still much more to Martin than his celebrated association with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Much more. Now, he’s gone. Not such a shock at 90, but still I’m sad.

From his early days working for EMI, where he earned his bones producing and arranging  everything from comedy records to symphonic sessions, through his legendary partnership with the Beatles, to composing movie soundtracks, and as recently as the 2006 Beatles remixes for the Cirque du Soleil show Love, Martin remained the embodiment of creativity, craftsmanship and class.

The anointment of “Fifth Beatle” has been liberally bestowed over the decades (Klaus Voorman, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, etc.) but no one deserves it more than Sir George.  He not only contributed defining orchestral touches to cuts like “Yesterday”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “All You Need Is Love”, “I Am The Walrus”, and “A Day in the Life”, but occasionally sat in, playing subtle flourishes like the harmonium solo on “The Word”, the lovely baroque piano  on “In My Life” (both from Rubber Soul),  and the harpsichord on “Fixing a Hole” (Sgt. Pepper).

Here are my picks for some of Sir George’s best post-Beatles work:

After the hymn, comes an amen…

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