Sir George Martin

By Frank Houston


Salon Staff
July 27, 2000 11:06PM (UTC)

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What a beautiful story about the only person in the world who should truly wear the title "The Fifth Beatle." George Martin was as important to the Beatles as Oliver Hardy was to Stan Laurel -- a perfect combination of genius plus genius. Your story was a wonderful tribute to a tremendous artist and one of the most important figures in popular music history.

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-- John Brennan

I found it interesting that you ran articles about Eminem and George Martin on the same day. The two opposing stories help to make a statement about what popular music has become. We've gone from beautifully crafted songs to attention-grabbing rants. The Beatles were raw but talented and interested in growing as musicians; Eminem is just an angry punk who only gets noticed if he makes a big enough noise.

It goes without saying, the Beatles were good but never would have made the impact they did without Martin. Maybe Eminem just needs a better producer to help him put the world into perspective. In the end, George Martin and the Beatles will be with us forever, Eminem will fade into the oblivion he deserves.

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-- Jay Milton

Frank Houston's obsequious profile of Sir George Martin rightfully recognizes Sir George's good taste and his inventive studio techniques. But it lacks any semblance of balanced reportage.

  • Sir George wanted the first Beatles single to be the insipid "How Do You Do It."
  • Instead of bringing in the monks to help chant the lyrics to "Tomorrow Never Knows," as Lennon wanted, Sir Cheapskate merely ran Lennon's vocal through a Leslie.
  • Instead of hiring a full symphony orchestra for "A Day In The Life," His Pinchpenniness only hired half of one. He even produced a score for the orchestral glissando that McCartney had wanted to be improvised for the same song.
  • Instead of demanding that EMI update its antiquated facilities, Sir George kept the Beatles recording in a studio that didn't acquire an eight-track recorder until 10 years after they had come into use here in America.
  • Only the fact that Lennon literally hung up the phone on him forced Sir George to come up with the fabled splice on "Strawberry Fields Forever."

    These are only a few examples that show that many of the Beatles moments of genius came in spite of Sir George, not because of him.

    -- James L. Desper Jr.


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