Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beatle People: Jane Asher

Jane Asher (born 5 April 1946, London) is an English actress, who is well known in the United Kingdom for her numerous appearances in film and television dramas. She has also developed a second career as a cake decorator and cake shop proprietor.

Early life

Asher was the second of three children born to Dr. Richard Alan John and Margaret Asher, née Eliot, in Willesden, north-west London. Her father was a consultant in blood and mental diseases at the Central Middlesex hospital in Acton, West London as well as being a broadcaster and author of many notable medical articles; her mother was a professor of oboe at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and taught George Martin to play the instrument. She also taught Paul McCartney to play the recorder. Jane was educated at Queen's College in Harley Street, London. Her younger sister is the radio actress Clare Asher; her older brother is record producer Peter Asher, formerly one half of the duo Peter & Gordon, and whose daughter is Victoria Asher, keytarist of the band Cobra Starship.

Asher's first appearance as a child actress was as Nina in the 1952 film Mandy. Other film appearances were the 1955 science fiction film The Quatermass Xperiment, and, co-starring with Kenneth More and Susannah York and in the 1961 UK film The Greengage Summer, which was released in the United States as Loss of Innocence. She also appeared as her distant relative Lady Jane Grey in the 1962 film and Disney TV programme, The Prince and the Pauper. British TV appearances included three episodes (1956–1958) of the British TV series, The Adventures of Robin Hood (working alongside her brother Peter), and as a panelist on the BBC's Juke Box Jury.

Relationship with Paul McCartney

In 1963, Asher interviewed The Beatles. A photographer for the BBC's Radio Times asked them to pose with Asher. Asher subsequently commenced a five-year relationship with Paul McCartney, getting engaged in 1967. She inspired many of McCartney's songs, such as "All My Loving," "And I Love Her," "I'm Looking Through You," "You Won't See Me," "We Can Work It Out," "Here, There and Everywhere," and "For No One" (all credited as Lennon/McCartney). Lennon/McCartney penned the number one hit "A World Without Love" for her brother Peter.

McCartney stayed in the Asher family home at 57 Wimpole Street from 1964-66 and wrote several Beatles songs there. He wrote in a room usually used for music lessons. The Asher house was also a place of intellectual stimulation for McCartney. He enjoyed the rarefied atmosphere of upper-middle class conversation and company that the house afforded, and to which he aspired. According to Cynthia Lennon, McCartney was "as proud as a peacock" to have Jane as a girlfriend, and saw her as "a great prize." Marianne Faithfull remembered McCartney and Asher "never getting on very well," and described one evening at Cavendish Avenue when McCartney wanted a window to be open and Asher wanted it shut. McCartney would repeatedly get up and open the window and then Asher would get up and close it, although neither of them made any comment about it during the whole evening.

McCartney did not stop having one-night stands with other women during his time with Asher, because he felt that since they were not married, it was allowed. On 25 December 1967, McCartney and Asher announced their engagement, and she accompanied McCartney to India in February and March 1968. Asher broke off the engagement in early 1968, after coming back from Bristol to find Paul in bed with another woman, Francie Schwartz. They attempted to mend the relationship, but finally ended it on 20 July 1968 when Asher told the BBC. Asher has consistently refused to publicly discuss McCartney or her time with him, and has maintained her position on the matter to this day. On this basis, she is described by the Beatles' 1968 biographer Hunter Davies as the only major Beatles associate not to have published her recollections.


Asher appeared in Roger Corman's The Masque of the Red Death (1964), Alfie, opposite Michael Caine in 1966, and in Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End. Thereafter, she was more commonly seen on television: she guest-starred in an episode of the British television comedy series The Goodies in the episode "Punky Business," as a trend setting newspaper writer, patterned on the punk journalist Caroline Coon alias Caroline Kook; The Stone Tape; Rumpole of the Bailey; Brideshead Revisited; as Faith Ashley, A Voyage Round My Father opposite Laurence Olivier; Wish Me Luck (three series in 1987–89); The Mistress (1985–87); Crossroads Mark III (2003) as hotel owner Angel Samson. Although the series was unpopular with die-hard Crossroads fans, and only lasted a matter of months, the sharp-tongued wit of Mrs Samson and brilliant acting from Asher made the part a huge success.

In 1994, she portrayed the Doctor Who companion Susan Foreman in a BBC Radio 4 comedy drama Whatever Happened to Susan Foreman?. Another notable radio appearance was in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 2002, in the episode "The Peculiar Persecution of Mr John Vincent Harden." She starred in "The World's Biggest Diamond," by Gregory Motton, at the Royal Court Theatre in 2005. In 2006 Asher starred in the Richard Fell adaptation of the 1960s science fiction series A for Andromeda, which aired on the British digital television station BBC Four. More recently in 2007, she portrayed the widow Sandra in the 2007 Frank Oz film Death at a Funeral. Asher appeared in the BBC medical Drama, Holby City as Lady Byrne. In October 2007, she played Andrea Yates in a story in The Sarah Jane Adventures, in the episode "Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?" She is currently appearing in the ITV drama series The Palace, filmed in Lithuania; she is set to play Queen Charlotte, the mother of King Richard IV. The Palace broadcasts on ITV1 at 9pm every Monday for eight weeks, beginning on the 14 January 2008. In August 2008 Asher appeared in the reality TV talent show-themed television series, Maestro on BBC Two.

Marriage and later career

Asher met the illustrator Gerald Scarfe in 1971, and they married ten years later when Asher was expecting their second child. They have three children - Katie (b.1974), Alex (b.1981) and Rory (b.1984).

Now well known as an author, Asher has written three best-selling novels: The Longing, The Question and Losing It. She has also had more than a dozen lifestyle, costuming, and cake decorating books published. Asher runs a company making party cakes and sugar crafts for special occasions, and still acts on television and in the theatre. Her general books are similar to those of Julia Hamilton, Elizabeth Jane Howard and Shena Mackay.

She is a shareholder in Private Eye, President of Arthritis Care and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. She is also President of the National Autistic Society, in which she takes an active role. She was also a speaker at the launch of the National Autistic Society's "Make School Make Sense" campaign alongside Joshua Muggleton (ASD speaker/writer). She is also President of the Parkinson's Disease Society.

In summer, 2008, Asher participated in the BBC's Maestro series where eight well-known show business personalities competed for the "prize" of conducting during Proms in the Park. She is also currently in the BBC One comedy series The Old Guys.


Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr - With a Little Help From My Friends

Paul and Ringo reunited on April 4th, 2009 at the David Lynch "Change Begins Within" Benefit Concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Starr's band played earlier that evening and performed "It Don't Come Easy," "Boys," and "Yellow Submarine." Starr then left the stage and McCartney and his band came on. After a few songs, McCartney then called out "Billy Shears" and Starr returned back to the stage and together they performed "With a Little Help From My Friends" with Starr on vocals, and "I Saw Her Standing There" with Starr on drums. Then they performed "Cosmically Conscious" with the rest of the performers from that night for the encore.

TV News coverage:

With a Little Help From My Friends:

I Saw Her Standing There:

Cosmically Conscious:

Friday, April 17, 2009

May 16, 1975 - WPVI Studios, Philadelphia

Taped: Friday 16 May 1975

As part of a succession of high-profile appearances, John traveled to Philadelphia where, for three days and nights, he helped out for the second successive year on the WFIL Helping Hand Radio Marathon, an event to raise money for multiple sclerosis. John talked on the phone and even did a short stint on the local television station reading the weather. He was invited to do the shows by the DJ Larry Kane, whom John met during The Beatles first visit to the States in February of 1964.

Raw footage:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beatle People: Jürgen Vollmer

Jürgen Vollmer, with Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann (the "Exis"), befriended The Beatles during the band's time in Hamburg in the early 1960s. Vollmer was the son of a professional army officer who died during World War II. Young Vollmer was attending Hamburg's Institute of Fashion at the time he met The Beatles, who at the time included drummer Pete Best and bassist Stu Sutcliffe. Vollmer quickly became one of the group's photographers, and was responsible for the "Beatles haircut" and some of their most iconic images in their leather-clad days prior to Brian Epstein. John Lennon was particularly impressed with Vollmer's photos, and used one of his favorites on the cover of his 1975 album Rock 'n' Roll. During the time Vollmer lived in the USA, he worked as a set photographer in several Hollywood film productions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beatle People: Anthony Fawcett

Anthony Fawcett is a British writer, art critic, and a former personal assistant to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He took over the role briefly held by Lennon's boyhood friend Pete Shotton, after Shotton's resignation from Apple Corps, and Fawcett's role was later filled by May Pang.

He had made his entry to the London art world shortly after leaving school, when he became an assistant at the Robert Fraser Gallery.

Fawcett later joined Lennon and Ono in the spring of 1968, as they made their first joint forays into avant garde art during the first flush of their romance (including two acorns planted near Coventry Cathedral, and Lennon's You Are Here, which consisted first of helium balloons with attached cards released into the English sky, then a room of charity collection boxes at the Robert Fraser Gallery surrounding the message "YOU ARE HERE" in Lennon's handwriting), Fawcett served as their personal assistant until their departure for New York at the end of 1971.

Fawcett witnessed firsthand many of the goings-on at Apple's Savile Row headquarters (also chronicled in The Longest Cocktail Party by Richard DiLello), and many of the business and interpersonal breakdowns that marked the end of the Beatles as a group.

He later wrote a biography, John Lennon: One Day at a Time, published by Grove Press in 1976. A 1980 reissue (with updates) of this book inadvertently played a role in Lennon's murder, as Mark David Chapman bought and read a copy, discovering Lennon wasn't living in retirement at Tittenhurst Park as Chapman had thought, and that Lennon had resumed his musical career in New York.

Some years before this, after meeting musician John Foxx in New York and again in California in 1979, Fawcett decided to return to London at the beginning of the 1980s. Through Foxx, he (together with his then partner photographer Christina Birrer) began to reintegrate himself with the London Arts scene, initially through befriending current musicians, artists and filmmakers.

Genesis P. Orridge, Julian Temple, Howard Devoto and Foxx were some of the figures who were early participants in the social hub that Fawcett was so adept at facilitating. Fawcett also picked up his professional relationship with the colorful Robert Fraser. Fraser had taken a sabbatical for some years after the end of 1960s, but still maintained his gallery premises near Bond Street.

Over the next few years (1982-6) Fawcett rapidly expanded his social circle to encompass several major artists including Gilbert and George, (who he later persuaded to participate in a successful major arts and business sponsorship venture, with Becks. Other artists also participated during this period, notably Tracey Emin).

During this same period, Fawcett created Anthony Fawcett Associates with architectural writer and critic Jane Withers. Operating through this company he became involved in organizing events for the Victoria and Albert Museum during the period when it was headed by Roy Strong.

He notably played a role in organizing the lavish Warhol event -the London staging of an international series of events initiated by the Warhol Foundation to mark the artist's death in 1987. At this point, such Victoria and Albert occasions had become one of the artistic and social magnets of 1980s London. He extended his work to the Serpentine Gallery while also participating in organizing major events for the Tate Gallery such as the opening of the new wing containing the Turner Gallery.

Fawcett is mentioned in Shout! The Beatles in their Generation, by journalist Philip Norman, and in Shotton's memoir The Beatles, Lennon and Me. He may also be the "Anthony" heard mentioned in "Radio Play," a track on Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions.


April 12, 1980 - Cannon Hill, Cold Spring Harbor

Taped: Sunday 12 April 1980

At Cold Spring Harbor, John records his day-to-day activities on his newly acquired video camera. These include playing with Sean, having lunch with Yoko on the lawn overlooking the sea and strumming his guitar.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

February 11, 1970 - Instant Karma

Taped: Wednesday 11 February 1970
Aired: Thursday 12 February 1970

John Lennon's "Instant Karma" as featured on the programme Top Of The Pops.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beatle People: May Pang

May Fung Yee Pang (龐鳳儀 / 庞凤仪) (born October 24, 1950) is best known as the former lover of ex-Beatle John Lennon. She had previously worked as a personal assistant and production coordinator for Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono.

In 1973, Lennon and Ono separated and Lennon and Pang had a relationship that lasted over 18 months, which Lennon later referred to as his "Lost Weekend." Pang produced two books about their relationship: a memoir called Loving John (Warner, 1983) and a book of photographs, Instamatic Karma (St. Martin's, 2008).

Pang was married to producer Tony Visconti from 1989 to 2000, and had two children, Sebastian and Lara.

Early years

Pang is the daughter of Chinese immigrants and grew up in New York's Spanish Harlem area with an older sister and an adopted brother (both of whom were born in China). Pang's mother had a laundry business in the area, but the Pang family left when the tenements where they lived were scheduled to be torn down, and moved to an apartment near 97th Street and 3rd Avenue, in Manhattan.

After graduating from Saint Michael Academy, Pang attended the New York City Community College. She wanted to be a model, but was told she was too "ethnic" by the modeling agencies. Pang's early jobs included being a song-plugger, which meant encouraging artists to record them. In 1970, she began work in New York as a receptionist at ABKCO Records, Allen Klein's management office, which at that time represented Apple Records and three former Beatles: Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

Pang was asked to help Lennon and Ono with their avant-garde film projects, Up Your Legs Forever and Fly, in December 1970. Pang was then asked to be Lennon and Ono's secretary and factotum/gofer in New York and England, which led to a permanent position as their personal assistant when the Lennons moved from London to New York in 1971. Pang coordinated an art exhibition in Syracuse, New York, on 9 October 1971, for Ono's This Is Not Here art show at the Everson Museum. Ono's show coincided with Lennon's 31st birthday, and a party was held at the Hotel Syracuse, which was attended by Ringo Starr, Phil Spector, and Elliot Mintz, amongst others.

The Lost Weekend

Lennon called his 18-month relationship with Pang his "Lost Weekend," a reference to the The Lost Weekend film, which starred Ray Milland, Jane Wyman and Phillip Terry. The film was based on a novel of the same title by Charles R. Jackson, about a writer who drinks heavily because of the accusation that he had had an affair with one of his male friends while in college. The reference to the gay affair was removed in the film, and the main character's descent into an alcoholic binge is blamed on writer's block.

In summer 1973, Pang was working on the recording of Lennon's Mind Games album. Lennon and Ono were having marital problems and decided to separate, and Ono suggested to Pang that she become Lennon's companion. Ono explained that she and Lennon were not getting along, had been arguing and were growing apart, and said that Lennon would start seeing other women. She pointed out that Lennon had said he found Pang sexually attractive. Pang replied that she could never start a relationship with Lennon as he was her employer and married. Ono ignored Pang's protests and said that she would arrange everything. Ono later confirmed this conversation in an interview. In October 1973, Lennon and Pang left New York for Los Angeles, living at the homes of friends.

When Lennon began producing Nilsson's Pussy Cats album, he thought it would be a good idea for the musicians to live under one roof to ensure they would get to the studio on time, so Pang rented a beach house in Santa Monica in March 1974, for Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, and Keith Moon to live in. During the recording, Lennon and Nilsson were involved in two drinking incidents at The Troubadour after starting work: The first was when Lennon placed a Kotex on his forehead and scuffled with a waitress, and two weeks later when Lennon and Nilsson were ejected from the same club after heckling the Smothers Brothers. Lennon then collaborated with Spector in December 1973, to record an album of Lennon's favorite oldies, but the alcohol-fueled recording sessions were not successful. It was reported that Spector fired a loaded gun in the studio control room, and Lennon had to finish the album in New York's Record Plant, in the autumn of 1974. Pang was credited on the finished album as "Production Coordinator and Mother Superior", in recognition of the difficult time she had organizing the production schedule and musicians.

In May 1974, Lennon and Pang returned to live in New York City. Lennon stopped drinking and concentrated on recording. As Lennon had previously had cats in Liverpool—while living at his aunt Mimi's house—he and Pang had two cats in New York called Major and Minor. In the early summer of 1974, while Lennon was working on his Walls and Bridges album, the couple moved into a penthouse apartment at 434 East 52nd Street, where Lennon and Pang claim to have seen a UFO on 23 August 1974, from their terrace, which had a panoramic view of east New York. To gain access to the deck Lennon and Pang had to climb out of a window. On the night in question a naked Lennon excitedly called Pang to join him on the roof, and they both watched a circular object silently floating less than 100 feet away. Lennon called Bob Gruen—Lennon's official photographer—and told him what had happened. Gruen suggested Lennon should call the police, but Lennon laughed it off, saying, "I’m not going to call up the newspaper and say, 'This is John Lennon and I saw a flying saucer last night'." Gruen called the local police precinct which confirmed that three other people had reported a sighting, and the Daily News said that five people had reported a sighting in the same area of New York where Lennon and Pang lived.

Pang is the voice whispering Lennon's name on "#9 Dream." Pang claims that Lennon's song, "Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)," was written about her. Lennon achieved the only number one single in his lifetime with "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night." Pang received an RIAA gold record award for her work on Walls and Bridges and continued her work as production coordinator of Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll album. Pang also worked on albums by Nilsson, Starr, Elton John and David Bowie.

While visiting Mick Jagger, Lennon and Pang saw a Scottish-style cottage that was for sale in Montauk, New York—part of The Hamptons area — and was close to the Montauk Point Lighthouse. Lennon asked a real estate broker to put in an offer for it in February 1975. Lennon and Pang were also planning on visiting McCartney and Linda in New Orleans in February 1975, where McCartney was recording the Venus and Mars album, but Lennon went back to Ono the day before the planned visit, after Ono said she had a new cure for Lennon's smoking habit.

Although Lennon would publicly lament this period, he did not do so in private. Journalist Larry Kane, who befriended Lennon in 1964, wrote a comprehensive biography of Lennon which detailed the "Lost Weekend" period. In the interview with Kane, Lennon explained his feelings about his time with Pang: "You know Larry, I may have been the happiest I've ever been... I loved this woman (Pang), I made some beautiful music and I got so fucked up with booze and shit and whatever."

Pang's books about Lennon

After Lennon went back to Ono, Pang started working for United Artists Records and Island Records as a PR manager, working on albums by Bob Marley and Robert Palmer.

Pang published her memoir, Loving John, in 1983. It was later updated and re-named, John Lennon: The Lost Weekend. The original 500-page Loving John book focused more on Pang's role on Lennon's albums and sessions. It was edited down to 300 pages, concentrating mostly on the sensational aspects of their relationship. It also included postcards that Lennon had written to Pang during his travels throughout the world in the late 70s. Pang claims that she and Lennon remained lovers until 1977, and stayed in contact until his death.

Pang's book of photographs, Instamatic Karma, was published in 2008. Besides the candid personal portraits, the book contains some historically important photographs, such as Lennon signing the official dissolution of the Beatles partnership, and the last known photograph of Lennon and Paul McCartney together. Cynthia Lennon also provided a back cover endorsement, acknowledging Pang's role in reuniting Lennon with his estranged first son, Julian.

Personal life

Pang married record producer Tony Visconti in 1989; the couple divorced in 2000. They had two children, Sebastian and Lara. She remains in touch with some of the people from her time with Lennon, and was invited by Paul McCartney to the memorial service for Linda McCartney. She was an invited guest at The Concert for George in 2002, and remains close to Cynthia Lennon, her husband Noel Charles, and Lennon's first son, Julian Lennon.

Although having had no contact for 20 years, on 9 October 2006 Pang accidentally met Ono in Iceland, on what would have been Lennon's 66th birthday. Ono was in Iceland to unveil a sculpture in Reykjavík, and was staying in the same hotel.

Pang is currently living with her children in upstate New York, and produces a line of stainless steel Feng Shui jewelry. Pang is a volunteer for an animal shelter called Animal Haven in New York, and the owner of a dog rescued after Hurricane Katrina.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Beatle People: George Martin

Sir George Henry Martin CBE (3 January 1926) is a British record producer, arranger and composer. He is sometimes referred to as "the Fifth Beatle"—a title that he owes to his work as producer or co-producer of all of The Beatles' original records as well as playing piano on some of The Beatles tracks—and is considered one of the greatest record producers of all time.

In 1969 he established the Associated Independent Recording (AIR) Studios. Although officially retired, he is still the chairman of the AIR board.

In recognition of his services to the music industry and popular culture, he was made a Knight Bachelor in 1996. He is the father of producer Giles Martin, and actor Gregory Paul Martin.

Early years

When he was six, Martin's family acquired a piano that sparked his interest in music. At eight-years-old, Martin persuaded his parents that he should take piano lessons, but those ended after only eight lessons because of a disagreement between his mother and the teacher. After that, Martin explained that he had just picked it up by himself.

As a child he attended several schools, including a "convent school in Holloway," St. Joseph's elementary school in Highgate, and St Ignatius' College in Stamford Hill, to which he won a scholarship. When war broke out and St. Ignatius College students were evacuated to Welwyn Garden City, his family left London and he was enrolled at Bromley Grammar School.
“I remember well the very first time I heard a symphony orchestra. I was just in my teens when Sir Adrian Boult brought the BBC Symphony Orchestra to my school for a public concert. It was absolutely magical. Hearing such glorious sounds I found it difficult to connect them with ninety men and women blowing into brass and wooden instruments or scraping away at strings with horsehair bows.”
Despite Martin's continued interest in music, and "fantasies about being the next Rachmaninov," he did not initially choose music as a career. He worked briefly as a quantity surveyor and then for the War Office as a Temporary Clerk (Grade Three) which meant filing paperwork and making tea. In 1943, when he was seventeen, he joined the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy and became a pilot and a commissioned officer. The war ended before Martin was involved in any combat, and he left the service in 1947. Encouraged by Sidney Harrison (a member of the Committee for the Promotion of New Music) Martin used his veteran's grant to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1947-50, where he studied piano and oboe, and was interested in the music of Rachmaninov and Ravel, as well as Cole Porter and Johnny Dankworth. Martin's oboe teacher was Margaret Asher (the mother of Jane Asher, who would later have a relationship with Paul McCartney). On 3 January 1948—while still at the Academy—Martin married Sheena Chisholm, with whom he had two children: Alexis, and Gregory. He later married Judy Lockhart-Smith, 24 June 1966, and they also had two children: Lucy and Giles.


Following his graduation, he 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 from 1950-55. Although having been regarded by EMI as a vital German imprint in the past, it was then seen as a joke and only used for EMI's insignificant acts. After taking over Parlophone when Preuss retired in 1955, Martin spent his first years with the record label recording classical and Baroque music, original cast recordings of hit plays, and regional music from around the British Isles. Martin also produced numerous comedy and novelty records—working with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Rolf Harris, Flanders and Swann and Shirley Abicair. Martin worked with the Vipers Skiffle Group, with whom he had a number of hits. In early 1962, under the pseudonym "Ray Cathode," Martin released an early electronic dance single, "Time Beat"—recorded at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop—in much the same style as the Doctor Who theme tune. As Martin wanted to add rock and roll to Parlophone's repertoire, he struggled to find a "fireproof" hit-making pop artist or group.

As a producer Martin recorded the two-man show featuring Michael Flanders and Donald Swann called At the Drop of a Hat, which sold steadily for twenty-five years, although Martin's breakthrough as a producer came with the Beyond the Fringe show, which starred Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller. Martin's work transformed the profile of Parlophone from a "sad little company" to a very profitable business.

The Beatles

Martin was contacted by Sid Coleman who told him about Brian Epstein, the manager of a pop group he had met. He thought Martin might be interested in the group, even though they had been turned down by Decca Records among other major British labels. Until that time Martin had had only minor success with pop music, such as "Who Could Be Bluer" by Jerry Lordan, and singles with Shane Fenton. After the telephone call by Coleman, Martin arranged a meeting on 13 February 1962 with Brian Epstein. Martin listened to a tape recorded at Decca, and thought that Epstein's group was "rather unpromising," but liked the sound of Lennon and McCartney's vocals.

After another meeting with Epstein on 9 May at the Abbey Road studios, Martin was impressed with Epstein's enthusiasm and agreed to sign the unknown Beatles to a recording contract without having met them or seen them play live. The contract was not what it seemed, however, as Martin would not sign it himself until he had heard an audition, and later said that EMI had "nothing to lose," as it offered one penny for each record sold, which was split amongst the four members, meaning one farthing per group member. Martin suggested to EMI (after the release of "From Me to You") that the royalty rate should be doubled without asking for anything in return, which led to Martin being thought of as a "traitor in EMI."

The Beatles auditioned for Martin on 6 June 1962, in studio three at the Abbey Road studios. Ron Richards and his engineer Norman Smith recorded four songs, which Martin (who was not present during the recording) listened to at the end of the session. The verdict was not promising, however, as Richards complained about Pete Best's drumming, and Martin thought their original songs were simply not good enough. Martin asked the individual Beatles if there was anything they personally didn't like, to which Harrison replied, "Well, there's your tie, for a start." That was the turning point, according to Smith, as Lennon and McCartney joined in with jokes and comic wordplay that made Martin think that he should sign them to a contract for their wit alone.

The Beatles' first recording session with Martin was on 4 September, when they recorded "How Do You Do It," which Martin thought was a sure-fire hit even though Lennon and McCartney hated it. Richards complained about new-member Starr's drumming on the next song, "Love Me Do", and so on 11 September, they re-recorded "Love Me Do" with Andy White. Starr was asked to play tambourine and maracas, and although he complied, he was definitely "not pleased." "Love Me Do" peaked at number 17 in the British charts, so on 26 November 1962 Martin recorded "Please Please Me," which he only did after Lennon and McCartney had almost begged him to record another of their original songs. Martin's crucial contribution here was to tell them to speed up what was initially a slow ballad. After the recording Martin looked over the mixing desk and said, "Gentlemen, you have just made your first number one record." Martin directed Epstein to find a good publisher—as Ardmore & Beechwood had done nothing to promote "Love Me Do"—telling Epstein about three publishers who, in Martin's opinion, would be fair and honest, which led them to Dick James.

As arranger

Martin's musical expertise helped fill the gaps between The Beatles' raw talent and the sound they wanted to achieve. Most of The Beatles' orchestral arrangements and instrumentation (as well as frequent keyboard parts on the early records) were written or performed by Martin in collaboration with the band. It was Martin's idea to put a string quartet on "Yesterday," against McCartney's initial reluctance. Martin played the song in the style of Bach to show McCartney the voicings that were available. Another example is the song "Penny Lane," which featured a piccolo trumpet solo. McCartney hummed the melody he wanted, and Martin wrote it down in music notation for David Mason, the classically trained trumpeter.

Martin's distinctive arranging work appears on multiple Beatles' recordings. For "Eleanor Rigby" he scored and conducted a strings-only accompaniment inspired by Bernard Herrmann. On a Canadian speaking tour in 2007, Martin said his "Eleanor Rigby" score was influenced by Herrmann's score for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Psycho.

For "Strawberry Fields Forever", he and Geoff Emerick turned two very different takes into a single master through careful use of vari-speed and editing. For "I Am the Walrus", he provided a quirky and original arrangement for brass, violins, cellos, and the Mike Sammes Singers vocal ensemble. On "In My Life," he played a sped-up Baroque piano solo. He worked with McCartney to implement the orchestral 'windup' in "A Day in the Life" and he and McCartney shared conducting duties the day it was recorded.

He contributed less-noted but integral parts to other songs, including the piano in "Lovely Rita," the circus instrumentation in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," and the orchestration in "Good Night."

The first song that Martin did not arrange was "She's Leaving Home," as he had a prior engagement to produce a Cilla Black session, so McCartney contacted arranger Mike Leander to do it. Martin was reportedly hurt by this, but still produced the recording and conducted the orchestra himself. Martin was in demand as an independent arranger and producer by the time of The White Album, so The Beatles were left to produce various tracks by themselves.

Martin arranged the score for The Beatles' film Yellow Submarine and the James Bond film Live and Let Die, for which Paul McCartney wrote and sang the title song.

The Beatles Anthology

Martin oversaw post-production on The Beatles Anthology (which was originally entitled The Long and Winding Road) in 1994 and 1995, working again with recording engineer Geoff Emerick. Martin decided to use an old 8-track analogue desk to mix the songs for the project—which EMI found out an engineer still had — instead of a modern digital desk. He explained this by saying that the old desk created a completely different sound, which a new desk could not recreate. He also said the whole project was a strange experience for him (with which McCartney agreed) as they had to listen to themselves chatting in the studio, 25-30 years ago.

Martin stepped down when it came to producing the two new singles reuniting McCartney, Harrison and Starr, who wanted to overdub two old Lennon demos. Martin had suffered a hearing loss, and left the work to writer/producer Jeff Lynne of ELO fame.

Cirque du Soleil and Love

In 2006, Martin and his son, Giles Martin, remixed 80 minutes of Beatle music for the Las Vegas stage performance Love, a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and The Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd. A soundtrack album from the show was released in 2006.

Other artists

Martin has produced recordings for many other artists, including contemporaries of The Beatles, such as Matt Monro, Cilla Black, and Gerry & The Pacemakers, as well as the band America, guitarist Jeff Beck, sixties duo Edwards Hand, Ultravox, country-singer Kenny Rogers,Cheap Trick and Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan.

Martin also worked with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Gary Glitter. He worked with Glitter before he was famous, and recorded several songs with him in the 1960s under the name of "Paul Raven." He also produced the 1974 album The Man In The Bowler Hat for the eccentric British folk-rock group Stackridge.

Martin worked with Paul Winter on his (1972) Icarus album, which was recorded in a rented house by the sea in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Winter said that Martin taught him "how to use the studio as a tool," and allowed him to record the album in a relaxed atmosphere, which was different from the pressurized control in a professional studio.

Associated Independent Recording (AIR)

Within the recording industry, Martin is noted for going independent at a time when many producers were still salaried staff—which he was until The Beatles' success gave him the leverage to start, in 1969, Associated Independent Recording, and hire out his own services to artists who requested him. This arrangement not only demonstrated how important Martin's talents were considered to be by his artists, but it allowed him a share in record royalties on his hits. Today, Martin's Associated Independent Recording (AIR)—established in 1965—remains one of the world's preeminent recording studios. Martin later opened a studio in Montserrat, in 1979. This studio was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo ten years later.

Music from James Bond series

Martin has also directly and indirectly contributed to the main themes of three films in the James Bond series. Although Martin did not produce the theme for the second Bond film, From Russia with Love, he was responsible for the signing of Matt Monro to EMI just months prior to his recording of the song of the same title.

Martin also produced two of the most well-known James Bond themes. The first was "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey in 1964. Despite producing the film's theme that became a hit single, Martin did not take part in the movie's score or the 'James Bond Theme' by Monty Norman or John Barry.

In 1972, Martin finally had a crack at composing, arranging and producing the music for the entire film of Live and Let Die. Apart from scoring a successful chart entry for the title song itself (by McCartney), Martin also composed one of the most colorful and funky Bond scores that served as a precursor to the music of 1970s blaxploitation films.

Books and audio retrospective

In 1979, he published a memoir, All You Need is Ears (co-written with Jeremy Hornsby), that described his work with The Beatles and other artists (including Peter Sellers, Sophia Loren, Shirley Bassey, Flanders and Swann, Matt Monro, and Dudley Moore), and gave an informal introduction to the art and science of sound recording. In 1993 Martin published With a Little Help from My Friends: The Making of Sgt Pepper (published in UK as Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt Pepper, co-authored with William Pearson), which also included interview quotations from a 1992 South Bank Show episode discussing the album. Martin also edited a 1983 book called Making Music: The Guide to Writing, Performing and Recording.

In 2001, Martin released Produced by George Martin: 50 Years In Recording, a 6-CD retrospective of his entire studio career, and in 2002, Martin launched Playback, his limited-edition illustrated autobiography, published by Genesis Publications.

Awards and recognition

  • Academy Award 1964 - Nomination Scoring of Music (for A Hard Day's Night)
  • Grammy Award 1967 - Best Contemporary Album (as producer of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)
  • Grammy Award 1967 - Album Of The Year (as producer of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)
  • Grammy Award 1973 - Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) (as arranger of 'Live and Let Die')
  • BRIT Awards 1977 - Best British Producer (of the past 25 years)
  • BRIT Awards 1984 - Outstanding Contribution To Music
  • Grammy Award 1993 - Best Musical Show Album (as producer of 'The Who's Tommy')
  • Martin was named the British Phonographic Industry's "Man of the Year" for 1998.
  • He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 15 March 1999 and into the UK Music Hall of Fame on 14 November 2006.
  • Martin has also been honored with a Gold Medal for Services to the Arts from the CISAC (the World Federation of Authors and Composers) and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Film at Belgium's Flanders Film Festival.
  • In November 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by Leeds Metropolitan University
  • He was granted his own Coat of Arms in March 2004 by the College of Arms. His shield features three beetles.
  • In September 2008, he was awarded the James Joyce Award by the Literary and Historical Society of UCD.
Selected Hit records produced or co-produced by George Martin

Records produced by Martin have achieved 30 #1 singles and 16 #1 albums in the UK - plus 23 #1 singles and 19 #1 albums in North America.

* “My Kind of Girl,” Matt Monro (31/7/61, #18)
* “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back,” Charlie Drake (17/3/62, #21)
* “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,” Rolf Harris (13/7/63, #3)
* “Little Children,” Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (13/6/64, #7)
* “Bad to Me,” Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (27/6/64, #9)
* “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” Gerry & The Pacemakers (4/7/64, #4)
* “You’re My World,” Cilla Black (1/8/64, #UK1)
* “How Do You Do It?,” Gerry & The Pacemakers (5/9/64, #9)
* “I Like It,” Gerry & The Pacemakers (7/11/64, #17)
* “Walk Away,” Matt Monro (9/1/65, #23)
* “I’ll Be There,” Gerry & The Pacemakers (30/1/65, #14)
* “Ferry Across the Mersey,” Gerry & The Pacemakers (20/3/65, #6)
* “Goldfinger,” Shirley Bassey (27/3/65, #8)
* “You'll Never Walk Alone,” Gerry & The Pacemakers (3/7/65, #48)
* “Trains and Boats and Planes,” Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (31/7/65, #47)
* “Alfie,” Cilla Black (10/9/66,#UK6 #95)
* “Girl on a Swing,” Gerry & The Pacemakers (22/10/66, #28)
* “Tin Man,” America (9/11/74, #4)
* “Lonely People,” America (8/3/75, #5)
* “Sister Golden Hair,” America (14/6/75, #1)
* “Got to Get You into My Life,” Earth, Wind and Fire (16/9/78, #9)
* “Oh! Darling,” Robin Gibb (7/10/78, #15)
* "Say, Say, Say," Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson (10/12/83, #1)
* "No More Lonely Nights," Paul McCartney (8/12/84, #6)
* "Candle in the Wind" 1997, Elton John (11/10/97, #1)
* "Pure" 2003, Hayley Westenra (#1 UK classical charts, #8 UK pop charts)


* Off the Beatle Track (1964)
* Help! (1965)
* George Martin Instrumentally Salutes The Beatle Girls (1966)
* Yellow Submarine (side one: The Beatles, side two: The George Martin Orchestra) (1969)
* Live and Let Die (producer for Paul McCartney's song and composer of musical score) (1973)
* In My Life (1998)
* Produced by George Martin (2001)
* The Family Way (2003)

Selected discography (as producer)

* Flanders and Swann — At the Drop of a Hat (1960)
* Flanders and Swann — At the Drop of Another Hat (1964)
* Gerry & The Pacemakers — Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965)
* Edwards Hand — Edwards Hand (1969)
* Ringo Starr — Sentimental Journey (1970)
* Paul Winter Consort — Icarus (1972)
* Stackridge — The Man In The Bowler Hat (released as Pinafore Days in the U.S. and Canada) (1974)
* Mahavishnu Orchestra — Apocalypse (1974)
* America — Holiday (1974)
* Jeff Beck — Blow by Blow (1975)
* America — Hearts (1975)
* America — Hideaway (1976)
* Jeff Beck — Wired (1976)
* Jimmy Webb — El Mirage (1977)
* America — Harbor (1977)
* Cheap Trick — All Shook Up (1980)
* UFO — No Place to Run (1980)
* Little River Band — Time Exposure (1981)
* Ultravox — Quartet (1982)
* X Japan/Yoshiki — Eternal Melody (1993)
* Tommy (Original Cast Recording) (1993)
* Celine Dion — Let's Talk About Love (1997)
* George Martin — In My Life (1998)
* The Beatles — Love (2006)