Here are some fascinating insights into the early days of the Beatles following the death, at 90, of George Martin, their producer. Writing in the New York Times, Alan Kozin tells this story:
‘A Day in the Life’ , the Beatles song which ends the ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album actually began life as two unrelated songs: the melancholy opening verses were John Lennon’s and the brighter central section was Paul McCartney’s. George Martin transformed these fragments into a cohesive whole by hiring a 40 piece orchestra. The sound was magnificently chaotic and it became more so once Mr Martin combined the four takes he recorded (some conducted by McCartney). It was a brilliant solution: as Lennon’s voice faded into the distance, the orchestra began its build-up, ending sharply on the chord that begins Paul McCartney’s section.’
And I just thought it was a great sound! I didn’t even know about George Martin until at least 25 years later! Now I know that he produced every Beatles recording (with the exception of Let It Be) from their first single to their final album. He signed them up, gave them their first contract, and soon became an indispensable part of the band. He was knighted in 1996 and produced Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind 1997’ the following year, a charity single recorded after Princess Diana’s death which became the best-selling single of all time.
It’s fair to say that George Martin played a huge role not only in the success of The Beatles and other bands he worked with, but he was also responsible for introducing brand new elements and sound combinations into rock and roll. Martin was responsible for 23 number one singles in the US and 30 in the UK.
Hidden Influences – An Organisational Perspective
So George Martin didn’t have the fame of The Beatles, nor were a lot of Beatles fans even aware of his input and influence on the music. A lot of people didn’t even know his name and certainly wouldn’t recognise him walking down the street. It’s fair to surmise Martin was wonderful at what he did because, well, look at (or listen to) the results. This was a man who truly excelled.
It would be impossible to be behind such a globally famed band without getting noticed at all, and a mistake to assume that Martin either shunned the limelight or resented not being as well known as the others. That he received a knighthood, the highest honour that can be awarded a citizen of the UK, proves the impact of his contribution to the success of this famous band and how invaluable it was.
Creativity – the Quiet Agent for Change
This got me thinking how behind-the-scenes influences play a big part in a whole spectrum of the organisations and that maybe there is often more going on than I would think at first.
Try this: think about a popular band, one of your favourites, and the odds are you can name each member of the band (and most or all of their material!) But do you know the name of their producer? Can you even remember the record label off the top of your head? Who was responsible for discovering their talent in the first place, who helped transform them from basic raw material into smooth, polished artists we know and love?
The answer is… perhaps it doesn’t matter. Not because the person in question isn’t being exposed to the same amount of fame as the frontmen, and not because he or she isn’t being paid fairly (you can assume the person to thank for their success is!) but because every industry, not just the entertainment industry, has those who front the group, company or corporation, and those who are more behind the scenes. Not everybody wants to be on show or ‘front of house’ , and not everyone’s suitable for the lead role anyway.
“Not everybody wants to be on show or ‘front of house’ , and not everyone’s suitable for the lead role anyway“ [linkedin][tweet][facebook]
Where would The Beatles be if they’d never met George Martin? Would they still have been successful? Would their sound have been different? Who knows, but it’s interesting to wonder ‘what if’ and at the same time realise just how influential Sir George Martin was to their success.