George Martin, Legendary Beatles Producer, Dies at 90

The producer known as the “Fifth Beatle” has died, according to a tweet by Ringo Starr

The legendary Beatles record producer Sir George Martin has died at 90, according to a message on Twitter by Ringo Starr.

“God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed,” Starr wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening.

Martin signed the band from Liverpool, England, to a record contract with EMI’s Parlophone Records in 1962, after many other labels had turned them down. An indispensable presence in the studio, he went on to produce almost every Beatles song, becoming known as the “Fifth Beatle.”

Martin helped the Beatles progress dramatically in just a few years, arranging their music and allowing them to become more sophisticated and adventurous musically. His works with the group include “Yesterday,” to which he suggested adding a string quartet; “Eleanor Rigby,” on which he arranged and conducted strings inspired by Bernard Herrmann’s “Psycho” score; and “A Day in the Life,” the epic song that ended the epochal “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album.

He also played the signature piano solo on “In My Life” and introduced the band (particularly John Lennon) to experimenting with backwards tapes, which they did with abandon in the latter half of the 1960s.

Martin produced every Beatles album except the band’s final one, “Let It Be,” which features widely derided production by Phil Spector.

With 30 No. 1 hit singles in the U.K. and 23 in the U.S., Martin is considered one of the greatest and most influential record producers of all time. In recognition of his services to the music industry, he was made a Knight Bachelor in the U.K. in 1996 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Born in Highbury, London, Martin taught himself how to play the piano as a child before joining the Royal Navy. Upon leaving the service in 1947, he attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama on a government grant, where he learned composition, orchestration and mastered the oboe.

He went on to work for the BBC’s classical music department, then joined EMI in 1950 and took over Parlophone when Oscar Preuss retired in 1955.

Along with countless hit records throughout his six-decade career, Martin also produced comedy and novelty records in the early 1950s, working with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. (Those comedy records were beloved by the Beatles, giving Martin instant credibility with the band.)

He arranged the score for the Beatles’ film “Yellow Submarine” and the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die,” for which Paul McCartney wrote and sang the title track.

More recently, George and his son, Giles Martin, partnered with Cirque du Soleil to remix Beatles music for the Las Vegas stage show “Love.”

Martin is survived by his children Giles, Alexis, Gregory and Lucy.

See the tweets from Starr and John Lennon’s son Sean, below.