Often referred to as the Fifth Beatle, the English record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician Sir George Henry Martin CBE Sadly died 8 March 2016. Born 3 January 1926. When he was six, Martin’s family acquired a piano that sparked his interest in music. At eight he began piano lessons, but those ended after only eight lessons because of a disagreement between his mother and the teacher. After that, Martin explained that he had just picked it up by himself.
As a child he attended several schools, including a “convent school in Holloway”, St. Joseph’s elementary school in Highgate, and St Ignatius’ College in Stamford Hill, to which he won a scholarship. When war broke out and St. Ignatius College students were evacuated to Welwyn Garden City, his family left London and he was enrolled at Bromley Grammar School. Despite Martin’s continued interest in music, he did not initially choose music as a career.He worked briefly as a quantity surveyor and then for the War Office as a Temporary Clerk (Grade Three) which meant filing paperwork and making tea.[In 1943, when he was seventeen, he joined the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy and became an aerial observer and a commissioned officer. The war ended before Martin was involved in any combat, and he left the service in 1947. Encouraged by Sidney Harrison Martin used his veteran’s grant to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1947 to 1950, where he studied piano and oboe, and was interested in the music of Rachmaninov and Ravel, as well as Cole Porter. Martin’s oboe teacher was Margaret Eliot (the mother of Jane Asher, who would later become involved with Paul McCartney). On 3 January 1948—while still at the Academy—Martin married Sheena Chisholm, with whom he had two children, Alexis and Gregory Paul Martin. Following his graduation in 1950, he worked for the BBC’s classical music department, then joined EMI in 1950. Martin produced comedy and novelty records in the early 1950s, working with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Bernard Cribbins among others.
Following his graduation, he worked for the BBC’s classical music department, then joined EMI in 1950, as an assistant to Oscar Preuss, the head of EMI’s Parlophone Records from 1950 to 1955. Although having been regarded by EMI as a vital German imprint in the past, Parlophone was only used for EMI’s insignificant acts. After taking over Parlophone when Preuss retired in 1955, Martin recorded classical and Baroque music, original cast recordings, and regional music from around Britain and Ireland. Martin also produced numerous comedy and novelty records. His first hit for Parlophone was the “Mock Mozart” single by Peter Ustinov with Anthony Hopkins. Martin worked with Peter Sellers on two very popular comedy LPs. One was released on 10″ format and called “The Best Of Sellers”, the second released in 1957 being called “Songs for Swinging Sellers” (a spoof on Frank Sinatra’s LP “Songs for Swinging Lovers”). he was introduced to Spike Milligan, with whom he became a firm friend, and best man at Milligan’s second marriage: He loved The Goon Show, and issued an album Bridge on the River Wye, which was a spoof of the film The Bridge on the River Kwai, and was based on the 1957 Goon Show episode “An African Incident” and featured Milligan, Sellers, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook, playing various characters
Other comedians Martin worked with included Bernard Cribbins, Charlie Drake, Terry Scott, Bruce Forsyth, Michael Bentine, Dudley Moore, Flanders and Swann, Lance Percival, Joan Sims, Bill Oddie, Jim Dale and the Vipers Skiffle Group.In early 1962, under the pseudonym “Ray Cathode”, Martin released an early electronic dance single, “Time Beat”—recorded at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. As a producer Martin recorded the two-man show featuring Michael Flanders and Donald Swann called At the Drop of a Hat. He also produced the Beyond the Fringe show cast album, which starred Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller, and the accompanying soundtrack album for David Frost’s satirical BBC TV show That Was the Week That Was.