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Paul McCartney remembering George Martin, March 9th 2016:
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 that will be with me forever. He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of The Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family. If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George. From the day that he gave The Beatles our first recording contract, to the last time I saw him, he was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.
It’s hard to choose favourite memories of my time with George, there are so many but one that comes to mind was the time I brought the song ‘Yesterday’ to a recording session and the guys in the band suggested that I sang it solo and accompany myself on guitar. After I had done this George Martin said to me, “Paul I have an idea of putting a string quartet on the record”. I said, “Oh no George, we are a rock and roll band and I don’t think it’s a good idea”. With the gentle bedside manner of a great producer he said to me, “Let us try it and if it doesn’t work we won’t use it and we’ll go with your solo version”. I agreed to this and went round to his house the next day to work on the arrangement.
He took my chords that I showed him and spread the notes out across the piano, putting the cello in the low octave and the first violin in a high octave and gave me my first lesson in how strings were voiced for a quartet. When we recorded the string quartet at Abbey Road, it was so thrilling to know his idea was so correct that I went round telling people about it for weeks. His idea obviously worked because the song subsequently became one of the most recorded songs ever with versions by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and thousands more.
This is just one of the many memories I have of George who went on to help me with arrangements on ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Live and Let Die’ and many other songs of mine.
I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such a keen sense of humour, who had the ability to poke fun at himself. Even when he was Knighted by the Queen there was never the slightest trace of snobbery about him.
My family and I, to whom he was a dear friend, will miss him greatly and send our love to his wife Judy and their kids Giles and Lucy, and the grandkids.
The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music.
God bless you George and all who sail in you!
From paulmccartney.com, December 2016:
In March producer and family friend George Martin passed away
Paul: The George Martin tribute, that was very moving. It was at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and was sort of funny, and it was sad. So you know, it’s the old one, “We laughed, we cried”. But it was a great chance to just remember things about George.
Obviously, you can’t get all the memories in one tribute like that, but there were a lot of great things. There were a lot of great speakers. There was an old Australian pal of George’s, who was very emotional and very moving and he was clever – because everyone was sort of eulogising – and he said: “But George wasn’t all good! You know, he could get pretty nasty if he was losing at cricket!” Which was funny, you know. But then he got really emotional, you could see he was a real buddy of George’s. I didn’t know him, but that was nice just seeing all the sides of George’s life. It was very moving. And it just gave you a chance to say, “Oh my gosh, I knew this guy”. I worked with him so much. He was like a father figure to me, really.
And he was such a self-made man. He was brought up working class and then sort of scrabbled his way to the top. He was brought up in Hoxton. So I think he was a bit “Landon!” at first, like. And then he went to the Guildhall School of Music, so, very much improved. But he was a joy to work with. A really nice man.
And it’s funny because I always used to treasure his thank you letters. Each year, I would send him a bottle of wine: “Birthday greetings, bottle of wine!”, from the lyrics of ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. He loved his wine so I would always send him a great red wine. And he would send me the most lovely handwritten thank you letter. And it was always kind of funny, appreciative. I loved his writing. You know how you get to sort of love someone’s writing? I came across one recently actually, in a drawer. And it was like, I love that about him. That he took the bother. He was old school. He took the bother to write a nice, little handwritten thing.
So yeah, all these kind of things were at the tribute. And it was well done musically. Giles, his son, oversaw the music and there were things like Bernard Cribbins, who is a comedy actor that George produced. And he sang one of the comedy songs George produced that was a hit for him. He sang it very well. And like I say loads of great speakers. It was a lovely afternoon. Very emotional. I looked over and there’s Stella and Mary in tears, because they knew him very well. That’s the nice thing, our families have grown up together. It was a lovely, lovely ceremony.
Last updated on November 5, 2020
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