The Beatles were a huge impact on my decision to learn how to play the guitar, study music, move to California, and pursue a career in the music business. Like tens of thousands of other young men in the early 60s, I wanted to be a rock star and live the life that John, Paul, George, and Ringo enjoyed. What could possibly be more fun than traveling the world performing music, writing and recording new material, and reveling in the appreciation of millions of adoring fans?
I didn’t succeed. I played music in a bunch of different bands and actually stayed the California rather than return to the University of Michigan because I thought I was about to hit the big time. But the course of my life went in another direction. But my fascination with Fab Four has never diminished. I loved their songs, their albums, the movies, and especially their willingness to experiment and forge new musical paths.
The Beatles never stayed the same. Thanks for their classically trained producer George Martin, The Beatles included backwards tape loops, piccolo trumpets, string quartets, and studio tricks to expand their sound and creativity. The announcement that Sir George Martin died yesterday marked the end of his life but his influence on the soundtrack of my life and many others will continue. He has been hailed as one of the most important music producers of the last 50 years. Many of the articles written about his passing labeled him the “Fifth Beatle”. His role in establishing their sound, playing on the records, and the profound impact he had on the sound of their albums makes that claim accurate. George Martin discovered and signed the band to Parlophone Records when no one else would. And he helped them move from being a great rock band to becoming one of the most innovative groups in popular music.
I’ve always dreamed of meeting one of The Beatles. I’m not sure what I would say if I ever got the chance but knowing that they literally altered the course of my life is something that I would like to relate…like it would be unique. I have never met one of The Beatles but I did meet and briefly chat with Sir George Martin.
It was about 10 years ago. I was attending an Audio Engineering Society convention in San Francisco and got invited to a party held at the Palace of Fine Arts. I was standing near the entrance when I recognized him standing with his wife. I certainly didn’t want to intrude on their conversation but when she left his side, I decided to walk up an introduce myself. And I did.
He was exceedingly polite and gracious…not at all put off by my approach. Of course, I acknowledged my appreciation for his career and innovations. And I gave him my 30-second pitch for high-resolution music. We chatted for about 10 minutes before his wife returned. He introduced her to me as I thanked him for his time and left them.
Meeting Sir George Martin was a big deal for me. At one point in my life I thought I wanted to be in the studio making music but in reality my skills and sensibilities are better suited to sitting in the control room dealing with the technology of recording the music that others make.
Sir George Martin made a huge impact on rock ‘n roll…and not just because of the work he did with The Beatles.