Sunday 22 April 2018

Tributes to 'fifth Beatle' span the generations

George Martin touches a statue of John Lennon in a park in the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana, during a visit to Cuba Photo: AP
George Martin touches a statue of John Lennon in a park in the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana, during a visit to Cuba Photo: AP
Moving: Paul McCartney

Patrick Sawer

A trickle rapidly became a torrent as the tributes poured in within moments of the announcement of the death of George Martin.

The outpouring of affection and sorrow seemed unmatched by the standards of most celebrity deaths. From respected artists to ordinary music fans and politicians, anyone for whom music is important to their lives paused and reflected on the passing of the 90-year-old man who came to be known as 'the fifth Beatle'.

Fittingly, it was Ringo Starr, one of the two surviving Beatles, who told the world of Martin's death, announcing the news on his twitter feed at 4.19am yesterday. He said: "God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed."

A few minutes later, Starr added: "Thank you for all your love and kindness George peace and love."


Paul McCartney also paid a moving tribute to Martin, who died in his sleep on Tuesday evening, calling him a "second father" and confirming his status as the band's fifth member. The singer said Martin "was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I've ever had the pleasure to know", adding, "if anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George."

McCartney also paid tribute to the creative genius of Martin, crediting the producer with introducing the band to new instruments, sounds and recording techniques.

"The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music," he said.

Harrison's widow, Olivia, and his son Dhani, Tweeted: "George Martin was a gentleman above all. May he rest in peace. Our thoughts are with Judy & the family at this sad time."

British Prime Minister David Cameron was among the first to pay his respects, saying: "George Martin was a giant of music - working with the Fab Four to create the world's most enduring pop music."

The tributes crossed the generational divide, with younger musicians such as Liam Gallagher and Mark Ronson, producer of numerous hit singles, expressing their loss alongside older practitioners, including the veteran US musician and producer Quincy Jones - who described George as "a brother" - Brian May and former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett.

Then there were the heartfelt personal tributes, from those who knew and loved him, as a man as well as a record producer.

His son Giles, who is also a producer and has worked at Abbey Road studios, wrote: "RIP dad. I love you. I'm so proud to have been your son. I'll miss you more than words can say. Thank you for all the times we had together."

Sean Lennon, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, said: "George Martin. I'm so gutted I don't have many words. Thinking of Judy and Giles and family. Love Always, Sean."

The 90-year-old helped the Beatles achieve global success as the head of the Parlophone record label after hearing their demo tape in 1962.

Lennon's eldest son Julian - for whom McCartney wrote 'Hey Jude' - simply said: "It was an honour to know you," adding: "The Fifth Beatle, without question, and likely one of the best and most iconic music producers of all time."

Shortly after Ringo first broke the news, George's manager, Adam Sharp, issued an official statement.

"The family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and messages of support," it said, going on to state: "In a career that spanned seven decades he was recognised globally as one of music's most creative talents and a gentleman to the end."


Martin, a carpenter's son from north London who attended The Guildhall School of Music after five years in the British Fleet Air Arm, helped the Beatles achieve unparalleled global success after hearing one of their demo tapes in 1962, when a number of other labels had turned them down.

He had started producing records for EMI's Parlophone label in 1950 and was noted for his comedy recordings with the likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Beyond the Fringe.

But, captivated by the Liverpool band's youthful enthusiasm and natural wit, he was willing to take a chance on their innovative version of American R&B and with them went on to revolutionise the practice of pop music recording.

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