George Martin was born on 3 January 1926 in Highbury, London. When he was six, his family acquired a piano that sparked his interest in music.
Despite his enduring interest in music, he did not initially choose music as a career. He worked briefly as a quantity surveyor, and later for the War Office as a temporary clerk, before joining the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy in 1943, aged 17.
He left the service in 1947 and used his veteran’s grant to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1947 to 1950, studying piano and oboe (his oboe teacher was Margaret Eliot, the mother of Jane Asher, who later became involved with Paul McCartney).
After graduating, Martin 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.
He produced numerous comedy and novelty records and his first success for Parlophone was the Mock Mozart single, performed by Peter Ustinov with Antony Hopkins.
In 1956 he produced the well-known children’s song Nellie the Elephant which was released by Parlophone in October of that year.
Later that decade, he worked with Peter Sellers on two very popular comedy LPs – The Best Of Sellers and Songs for Swinging Sellers – and other comedians including Spike Milligan, Bernard Cribbins, Charlie Drake, Terry Scott, Bruce Forsyth, Michael Bentine, Dudley Moore, Lance Percival, Joan Sims, Bill Oddie and Jim Dale.
Martin wanted to add rock and roll to Parlophone’s repertoire but struggled to find a hit-making pop artist or group. In 1962, he heard the demo tapes of a group called The Beatles.
He subsequently played an essential part in developing the recorded sound of The Beatles – and as their music grew ever more complex his role became even bigger.
The Fab Four would certainly never have made records like Strawberry Fields Forever and Sgt Peppers without him to arrange, orchestrate and transform their wishes into recorded sound.
Martin left EMI in 1965 to launch AIR Studios and finally retired from the music business in October 1998.
George Martin passed away on 9 March 2016, aged 90.