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Beatles Producer George Martin Dead at 90

GAB Archives, Getty Images
GAB Archives, Getty Images

The man known as the “Fifth Beatle,” producer and arranger George Martin, has died at the age of 90. The cause of his death has not been made public, but his family verified the news with the following statement:

“We can confirm that Sir George Martin passed away peacefully at home yesterday evening, Tuesday, March 8. The family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and messages of support. … In a career that spanned seven decades he was recognized globally as one of music’s most creative talents and a gentleman to the end. The family ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”

Martin signed the Beatles to their first record deal in 1962, and worked with them from their first single “Love Me Do” until their final album, Abbey Road. The two surviving members of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, have posted loving tributes to their former collaborator, which you can read below.

I’m so sad to hear the news of the passing of dear George Martin. I have so many wonderful memories of this great man…

Posted by Paul McCartney on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed xxx ✌️☮

Posted by Ringo Starr on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

He got his start working for the BBC’s classical music department before joining EMI in 1950. By the end of the decade, he was working with comedian Peter Sellers, and he helped the actor and comedian score a pair of hit comedy albums in the U.K. That pretty much set Martin on path to working on similar records for the next several years.

But in 1962, he met the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, listened to the demo tape the group had made (and saw famously rejected by Decca Records) and by mid-year, he was helping to guide them to stardom. He suggested they replace their drummer, Pete Best, and he recorded “Please Please Me,” which became the first single in a string of No. 1 hits.

For the rest of the decade, Martin was in the studio with the Beatles, shaping their classic records along the way, including such groundbreaking works as “Eleanor Rigby” and “A Day in the Life.” He was such an integral part of the group’s sound that he rightfully deserved to be called the Fifth Beatle.

After the band broke up in 1970, Martin worked with other artists (he had produced others during his tenure with the Beatles, but they always were his first priority). He oversaw records by America, Jeff Beck, Cheap Trick and Elton John, among others. In the ’90s — along with the surviving Beatles, McCartney, Starr and George Harrison — Martin worked on the group’s Anthology series, though Jeff Lynne ended up producing the two new tracks assembled using John Lennon demos. He also oversaw the remixing of Beatles music for a popular Cirque du Soleil show.

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