The night after it was announced that longtime producer of The Beatles Sir George Martin had died at 90, Paul McCartney and others close to the Beatles issued statements about him on the Beatles official website. McCartney's statement was lengthy and heartfelt. “I’m so sad to hear the news of the passing of dear George Martin. I have so many wonderful memories of this great man that will be with me forever. He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of The Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family. If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George. From the day that he gave The Beatles our first recording contract, to the last time I saw him, he was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.
“It’s hard to choose favourite memories of my time with George, there are so many but one that comes to mind was the time I brought the song 'Yesterday’ to a recording session and the guys in the band suggested that I sang it solo and accompany myself on guitar. After I had done this George Martin said to me, 'Paul I have an idea of putting a string quartet on the record.' I said, 'Oh no George, we are a rock and roll band and I don’t think it’s a good idea.' 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.
“This is just one of the many memories I have of George who went on to help me with arrangements on 'Eleanor Rigby', 'Live and Let Die' and many other songs of mine. I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such a keen sense of humour, who had the ability to poke fun at himself. Even when he was Knighted by the Queen there was never the slightest trace of snobbery about him. My family and I, to whom he was a dear friend, will miss him greatly and send our love to his wife Judy and their kids Giles and Lucy, and the grand kids. The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music. “God bless you George and all who sail in you! Paul”
The Beatles themselves issued a short statement also tinged with sadness. “We were sad to hear the news of Sir George Martin’s passing. Our love and thoughts are with his family today. “It is impossible to overstate the significance of George's contribution to the Beatles' music and the strength of his relationship with the band. He was a member of the family. We will always miss and remember him with admiration and love. 'If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George' – Paul”
Martin's son Giles Martin posted a tribute to his dad today on his Twitter account @mashupmartin, saying, “ “RIP dad. I love you. I'm so proud to have been your son. I'll miss you more than words can say. Thank you for the all times we had together.” Ringo Starr was the first to break the news of Martin's passing Tuesday night. “God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed xxx.”
Singer Billy J. Kramer, who also was produced by Martin, said today, “I was very saddened to hear about the passing of George Martin. He produced all of my hit records, and of course, those of the Beatles. George was a gentleman and a huge talent. Although George didn't have today's technology, the records he produced are classics that will live on forever.” And Beatles associate and author Tony Bramwell told Beatles Examiner, “He was a genius a gentleman a musician and he was THE PRODUCER! An altogether wonderful chap.”
Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick said, "The news of the passing of Sir George Martin is sad, however the mark he left on the music world is indisputable. I had the pleasure of sitting and working side by side with him during the creation of the most iconic music of The Beatles. He was a true gentleman, and we had the same sense of humor. He was like a father to me. I’m proud to have shared so many memorable years with him."
Members of the Beatles' families also weighed in with their tributes. John Lennon's son Julian said, “So sad to hear the News of George's Passing... 'The Fifth Beatle,' without question, and likely one of the best & most iconic music producers of all time. You were always such a gentleman and have inspired millions and will continue to do so for millennia. It was an honour to know you. My heart & prayers go out to Judy and all other family members.”
Olivia Harrison and son Dhani issued a joint statement saying, “George Martin was a gentleman above all. May he rest in peace. He was so kind to Dhani and I and of course our George thought the world of him. He will be terribly missed. Our thoughts are with Judy and all the family at this sad time.” Dhani Harrison also commented on Twitter, “Dear sweet man. God bless.” Sean Lennon posted a comment on Twitter Tuesday night about an hour after Ringo Starr first broke the news. “R.I.P. Sir George Martin. I'm so gutted. I don't have many words. Thinking of Judy and Giles and ...” At press time, Yoko Ono hadn't issued a statement, but her Twitter account retweeted a John Lennon comment from a BBC interview in which he said, "He taught me a lot."
Johnnie Hamp, who was producer of “The Music of Lennon and McCartney” TV special in the '60s, revealed an anecdote about working with Martin when he was putting the show together. 'I'm sure I shouldn't be doing this, Johnnie, we could be breaking all sorts of Union rules, but you're right he'd never be able to mime the lyrics.' That was George when I asked him to send me the backing track for Peter Sellers' version of 'Hard Day's Night' for his appearance in my production of 'The Music of Lennon and McCartney'. George had hysterics when I sent him the outtakes! RIP my good friend.” Former Ringo producer Mark Hudson commented, “Devastated by the loss of Sir George Martin. I was honored to work with him and know him. There are no words to express how much he gave to music. You can start with The Beatles, but there was so much more. Thoughts and prayers for Judy and Giles. God bless you George.”
And Denny Seiwell, one-time drummer with Paul McCartney and Wings said, “RIP George Martin. A truly great gift to music. Raised the bar to being a gentleman and left his gift for us all. I will miss this giant of a man and musician. Having had the gift of working and knowing GEORGE Martin, my heart goes out to his family and friends. And In the end... A truly great legacy was left for the world. Fondest memory of Sir George Martin. The day we recorded 'Live and Let Die' at his studio Air London. First time hearing his arrangement. Awesome.”
Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn, author of "All These Years, Volume 1: Tune In," put Martin's career in perspective in an interview with Stephen K. Peebles. “George Martin was the right man to produce the Beatles because he was receptive to their points of view. They were always strong-willed, strong-minded individuals, the Beatles, and they needed someone who would actually listen to what it was they wanted and try to enable it in some way on tape. And at the same time, their producer had to be someone that they respected.
“It was a beautifully harmonious relationship from very soon after they met when they really did tune into one another. And from that point on, there was no one better who could possibly have worked with them. And similarly, from Sir George's perspective, no better artist to work with because they had this combined, united quest to always look for something new and to move on from whatever they did last time. And they were a united five some in that respect, the perfect quintet in the studio.”
And Bill King, editor of Beatlefan magazine, said, “Sir George Martin was the perfect balance to The Beatles as their producer in the recording studio, providing the polish that the musically uneducated Fab Four needed and enabling them to achieve things they heard in their heads but didn't know how to get on tape. He also was the consummate English gentleman, but had a openness to adventure that fit well with the band. I only got to meet Sir George once, and strangely enough it wasn't in a Beatles-oriented situation. I was in New York City with the Atlanta Rhythm Section and, after the show, I was backstage with the band's manager-producer, the late Buddy Buie, when Sir George came up to say how much he'd enjoyed the show and liked the band. I got to shake his hand, and that's about it. But he made an impression on me even in that brief time as the epitome of class. He was a legend.”