George Martin, head of A&R at Parlophone and the producer of all of the
Beatles records except for Let It Be, originally went to work for EMI in
1950, after working in the BBC Music Library. At that time, Parlophone
was considered EMI's "junk" label. In 1955, EMI acquired the US record
company Capitol as one of its labels. In that same year, Martin became,
at 29, the youngest manager of an EMI label, when Oscar Preuss retired.
In the late fifties, Martin kept Parlophone in the black with novelty and
comic dialogue records, featuring artists including the Goons and Peter Sellers. When
the sixties and rock and roll arrived, EMI's other important label,
Columbia, had big rock and roll hits with Cliff Richard and the Shadows.
It was most likely with finding a group like that in mind when George
Martin consented to that first meeting with Brian Epstein and his demo
tape of the Beatles.
Although he wasn't initially impressed with the numbers on the tape Brian Epstein played him that day, Martin detected a rough sound that he
liked and set up an audition for June 6, 1962 at Abbey Road. Used to the Liverpudlian humor of the comedy
records he produced, George Martin took an instant liking to the boys
that first day of their first EMI recording session.
At first, as producer the boys would play the numbers for them and he would make suggestions before they recorded. The first song of many he actually orchestrated for them was Yesterday.
Unhappy with his salary at EMI, he broke away and formed his own production company called AIR (Associated Independant Recording) in 1964.
Also moving to AIR to produce were Ron Richards, John Burgess and Peter
Sullivan. The Beatles, although under contract to make records for EMI, continued to be produced by George Martin at AIR.
George Martin wrote the orchestral scores for the Beatles movies A Hard Days Night and Yellow Submarine, and also The Family Way and Live and Let Die which Paul contributed songs to. He also produced
the music for Robert Stigwood's movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
In His Own Words
In this sound clip, George Martin talks about the working relationship
between the record producer and the recording engineer.
Here, George Martin talks about the role of record producer and the
importance of a give and take relationship with the artists.
In this interview clip, George Martin talks about how he interacted in the studio
with the Beatles.
Biographical info from the book Shout! by Philip
This page last updated March 31, 2003.
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