First of all, a moment of silence for this great man who helped craft The Beatles' music behind the curtains. The English producer passed away on March 8 at the age of 90. He produced all of The Beatles' records except Let It Be, and is known to have been one of the most trusted people by the Fab Four when it comes to their music.
You've probably heard it all over social media: He's the fifth Beatle. Paul McCartney has declared so himself. But to be honest, we don't actually know him all too well. Thus, the question: What exactly did he do for the greatest band the world has ever known?
Here are a couple of things.
1) Sir George Martin had formal training at the Guildhall School of Music. This meant he could read and write notated music, which is something that helped the Beatles in their future compositions. This expanded the audio flavor that the Beatles were able to offer.
2) He introduced instruments that aren't considered traditional for rock bands. These included the French horn, the piccolo trumpet and the sitar, to name a few. These gave Beatles songs a different sound from their contemporaries.
3) He fostered a collaborative environment. In making "Yesterday," Martin suggested that the band should add a string quartet. McCartney obliged but also made suggestions of his own. Martin had reservations for Paul's suggestions but eventually gave in, trusting Paul's instincts.
4) He pushed the envelope. After "Yesterday," Martin once again added strings to another Paul McCartney original, "Eleanor Rigby." This time he made the score for a string octet, which nailed the song's melancholic flavor.
5) He was unafraid to make the hard decisions. When the Beatles auditioned for Martin in 1962, they had another drummer: Pete Best. His surname was a misnomer. He wasn't the best fit for the Beatles. He convinced the band to let go of Pete, and subsequently replaced him with this guy:
6) He recorded actual parts for them. He did the piano parts for songs such as "In My Life," "A Hard Day's Night" and "Rock And Roll Music."
7) He was a technical innovator. To name a few, he introduced the use of feedback, tape loops, vocal double-tracking, backward playback, and playing around with tape speeds to constantly stir up the formula of what a rock band is supposed to sound like.
Here he is explaining how they recorded "Within You Without You," the eight track of arguably the best album ever, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:
8) He was a leader and motivator. He wasn't just a boss that pushed them around as pawns. He was a legitimate leader who knew how to put the members in a position to succeed, individually and as a group, and encouraged them to make songs that offered something new that the previous one didn't.
He and The Beatles constantly communicated in improving their product and it was never just him speaking. Again, he was collaborative in the creative process, and thus was able to create a trusting environment that, in the end, produced 30 Number One songs.
So there, that's what Sir George Martin did for the Beatles.