Dr. AIX's POSTS — 10 March 2016

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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.

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About Author

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

(9) Readers Comments

  1. I am not trying to ruffle feathers. As a person who fronted quite a fine band for 30 years, I can simply say this: The Beatles were: fabulous songwriters, beautiful harmony singers, with brilliant arrangements by G.M. But in the long run, the Beatles are far more important sociologically; not a particularly hot rock’n’roll band .

    When it comes to influence on bands and guitar players, The Rolling Stones dwarf the Beatles. Because they are still profoundly active (I saw them in Buffalo in July 2015, they are at a new peak, amazing after 53 years of very hard work,) we cannot evaluate the Stones sociological impact yet, but we can evaluate the Beatles’ true value. Without any historical events, I sincerely doubt that the Beatles could have played stadium shows like it was a club gig, as the Stones in fact do. Very different aspects stand out from each, and it is important to divorce emotional ties when making this type of comparison. Hey, at least we’re not talking about cables. Thanks.

    • Hi Craig…it’s certainly not worth debating the relative merits of The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones in terms of who’s the best rock band”. I’ve seen the Rolling Stones and even have my name on one of their albums in the production credits. They are very different and both brilliant. The Beatles had a greater impact on my own musical pursuits and choices than the Stones.

  2. A great memory, Mark, meeting George Martin. But you left us hanging: what were his views on hi-res music?

    • I’m sorry I did leave you hanging because he didn’t really respond in a way that would be worth mentioning. We only chatted for a brief time. As I recall he was in favor of better fidelity across the board but it was the productions, new sounds, new approaches, and tunesmithing that he focused on.

  3. Hi Mark
    what an honor must ‘ve been for you to meet him person, I can just imagine your excitement back then but he do seems to be such a good person (not to count his talent)
    Im really sad about this loss but hey ….what a life he had !! working with the Beatles must have been mind blowing back in the 60/70
    Ciao0
    Andrea

    • I’ve met and worked with a lot of notable musicians in both the classical and pop/rock world but Sir George was among the real highlights.

      • Did you ever meet Frank Zappa?

        • No, sadly I never did. I knew a bunch of people that worked with him and knew his music well but never met him.

  4. Fantastic! And a classy interaction…I agree with you, what adoration can you (me, anybody) state that Sir George and the Fab Four haven’t heard before? I think it was a great tact to “talk shop” with one of the greats for a few moments, I’m sure he enjoyed having a “technical” discussion, however brief, with a fellow “peer” rather than figuring out how to say “thank you” or other awkward responses to unbridled adoration. Well done!

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