‘Fifth Beatle’ Sir George Martin dies, aged 90

George Martin, who produced much of the Beatles' classic catalog, has died. The cause of death has not yet been released. He was 90.

George Martin in the studio with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr
George Martin in the studio with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr

Record producer Sir George Martin, known as the “Fifth Beatle”, has died.

Breaking the news on Twitter, Beatles drummer Starr, 75, said: “God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed.”

In a career spanning five decades, Sir George, who was 90, signed the Beatles and produced more than 700 records.

He worked with artists including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Shirley Bassey and Cilla Black.

He added: “Thank you for all your love and kindness George peace and love.”

Over the decades, many people have claimed to be the "fifth Beatle." But the only person who can credibly hold that title was Martin. The producer not only signed the Beatles to their first record contract in 1962 but went on to work extensively with them on the vast majority of music they recorded over the next eight years, from "Love Me Do" to the majestic suite that wrapped up Abbey Road.

"George Martin made us what we were in the studio," John Lennon said in 1971. "He helped us develop a language to talk to other musicians."

Martin was born January 3rd, 1926 in Highbury, London. He began playing piano at a young age, and in 1943 he joined the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. After World War II, he worked in the BBC's Classical Music Department and then moved on to EMI. Much of his time was spent producing records for British comedians like Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore and Bernard Cribbins.

Martin met the Beatles in early 1962. At the time, they had a cult following in parts of England, but little success in landing a recording deal. The group's manager, Brian Epstein, approached the producer, who worked for EMI records, and got him to agree to give their demo tape a listen.

He took them from their mop-top recordings in the early 1960s to the psychedelia of Sergeant Pepper.

"The recording, to put it kindly, was by no means a knockout," Martin wrote in his 1979 memoir, All You Need Is Ears. "I could well understand that people had turned it down. But there was an unusual quality of sound, a certain roughness that I hadn't encountered before. There was also the fact that more than one person was singing."

In his lifetime, he won multiple Grammy awards and an Academy Award for the score to A Hard Day’s Night.

In 1999, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sean Ono Lennon, son of Beatle John Lennon, tweeted: “RIP George Martin. I’m so gutted I don’t have many words.”

Liam Gallagher, lead singer of rock band Oasis who modelled themselves on the Beatles, said on Twitter: “Sir George Martin RIP LG X”