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Author Topic: George Martin Interviews  (Read 5526 times)

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George Martin Interviews
« on: February 12, 2006, 07:45:01 PM »

I've read some interesting things from Sir George here:

"In 1971, about a year after the breakup of the Beatles, George Martin did an interview with the British music magazine Melody Maker in which he talked about many of the Beatles songs, their recording processes and influences, album makings, and what it was like to work with the band. The interview was presented in three parts, all of which are presented here.

MM: Do you remember how the Beatles came to you and EMI?

MARTIN: Oh yes, very easily. Brian Epstein brought them to me, not to EMI ... well, he had already taken them to EMI, and they'd been turned down. I didn't know that until afterwards.

MM: Who turned them down?

MARTIN: The story is that first of all he took them to a guy who was the marketing manager - I don't think I'd better mention his name - and he played the tapes to two producers. Now there were four producers at EMI at the time: Norrie Paramour, Norman Newell, Walter Ridley, and myself. Two of those four heard the tapes, and I didn't, so one of the other three is innocent! They said they weren't any good, so Epstein went away and played them to Decca, who showed an interest in them and brought them down for a test. It was fairly favourable to begin with, then later on Brian found out that he'd got to bring them down for a second test while Decca made up their minds, and he got rather shirty about it. He'd tried with other companies as well. I think ... Pye, and Philips. In desperation he took the tapes to HMV in Oxford Street to get some lacquers cut, because he wanted to place the songs with a publisher, and the engineer there, Ted Huntley, thought the tapes were great. He took them upstairs to Sid Coleman, who ran EMI Publishing, and Sid liked them too and said "Have you played them to EMI?" Brian said yes, but nobody wants to know, and Sid told him to play them to me, because I was looking for something. Brian brought them round to me, and that was that.

MM: Can you remember the songs on that tape?

MARTIN: No ... I can remember "Your Feets Too Big" was one of them. There was a motley collection - I think possibly "Love Me Do" was on it, but I'm not sure. Certainly the songs didn't knock me out - in fact I wasn't knocked out at all, in defence of all those people who turned it down, it was a pretty lousy tape, recorded in a back room, very badly balanced, not very good songs, and a rather raw group. But I wanted something, and I thought they were interesting enough to bring down for a test. I said, "Bring them down from Liverpool - I don't want to go up there and I'll have a look at them in the studio." Obviously, Brian inwardly groaned, thinking he was going through the same thing as Decca, but they came to London and I spent an afternoon with them in No 3 studio in Abbey Road. I liked them, I liked them as people apart from anything else, and I was convinced that we had the makings of a hit group but I didn't know what to do with them in terms of material.

MM: There was a kind of hiatus in pop at the time - were you conscious of that?

MARTIN: Very much so. I was very envious of Norrie Paramour who had Cliff Richard, the big star. I'd been making comedy records - Peter Sellers, Charlie Drake, Bernard Cribbens - and I'd done it because I enjoyed it anyway. It was a way of giving Parlophone something different, and it was successful so I became the Comedy King. I envied Norrie his success with Cliff, because every comedy record you made was a oncer, you had to start from scratch the next time around. Whereas if you had an artist like Cliff, once you'd got him up there all you'd have to do was find a reasonably good song and give it to him, and you'd got a second hit. This, to me, was much easier, at least I thought so, and I was always looking fore something of that sort. When the Beatles came along I thought well, I didn't know where I was going to get the songs from, but they seemed a pretty good group and they seemed to have that kind of raw sound that people hadn't heard about yet.

MM: What was it that was different - the raw sound, and the fact that they were a group rather than a solo singer?

MARTIN: Well, I didn't recognise that, because the tapes weren't like that. They were occasionally singing together, but mostly they were alternating: sometimes it was John, sometimes Paul, and sometimes George. In fact my first sessions with them were looking for the voice. I thought they're great people, but who am I going to make the lead voice? I spent an afternoon with each of them in turn. I chucked out George pretty quickly, so it was left to either Paul or John.

MM: Were all three singing equally when they came to you?

MARTIN: They were doing all those rock standards, "Chains" and "Anna" and so on, and they were doing them the way they heard the records, imitating the records. So they were singing together, but occasionally one would burst out in solo. Then it suddenly hit me that I was being stupid - I was looking for a solo voice when I didn't need to, I should just take them as they were. Then we got rid of Pete Best, and Brian brought Ringo along. I was rather suspicious of him.

MM: What was wrong with Pete Best?

MARTIN: He was the best looking of the group, which was rather curious, but he never joined in with the others. He was always a bit quiet, almost surly. But the basic thing was that I didn't like his drumming, it wasn't solid and he didn't bind the group together. I said to Brian that I didn't want to use him on the records, although he could do what he liked with him outside the studio, as part of the group, but there was no reason why I shouldn't use a session drummer. No-one was going to know. This was obviously the trigger, because the boys had been thinking of getting rid of him anyway, but they wanted someone to do the dirty work for them.

MM: What did you think of Ringo's drumming when you first heard him?

MARTIN: I didn't give him a chance, to begin with. He suddenly turned up an a session - I didn't know he was coming and I booked Andy White, and I said well Andy's here and he's paid for, so he's going to play .. you can join in on tambourine if you like.

MM: This was the "Love Me Do" session.

MARTIN: Yes, we actually did it again with Ringo playing drums, because when I heard him he was much better than Pete Best, he gave it more solidarity, and in fact he was more raucous than Andy White, and it fitted the group anyway. He was pretty rough in those days, but pretty good.

MM: So did he actually play on that single?

MARTIN: Oh yes. But we had two versions of "Love Me Do," and in all honesty I can't remember which was which. I think maybe the one that Andy played on was on the album.

MM: When you first met them, did you consider them seriously as musicians at all? As guitarists or composers?

MARTIN: As composers, they didn't rate. They hadn't shown me that they could write anything at all. "Love Me Do" I thought was pretty poor, but it was the best we could do - they hadn't got anything else, and I hadn't got anything else to offer them either. As players they were quite adequate - they could play guitar pretty well and they had an uninhibited sound. The question of them being deep minds or great new images didn't occur to me - or to anybody, or to them, I should think. It was after we made "Love Me Do" that I was determined to find a hit song for them. I was scouring the publisher's office looking for material on our group, which nobody wanted to know about. EMI heard the Beatles, which they thought was a silly name anyway, and they didn't attach too much importance to it. "Comedy man tries to get into pop field," you know. We hit number 17 in the chart, which raised eyebrows but only just, so I found them this song by Mitch Murray which I thought was just ideal for them to learn for the next session. When they turned up on the session they said they didn't like it.

MM: What was it?

MARTIN: "How Do You Do It." They actually recorded it but said they'd rather do one of their own numbers. I said that I hadn't heard anything of theirs that was any good, so they did "How Do You Do It." John sang the solo, quite well actually, but he came to me and pleaded with me. He said "Look, I think we can do better than this. If we write something better can we do it?" I said yes, but you're turning down a hit. They quickly came back with "Please Please Me," and I must confess it knocked me out. They'd worked out all the little harmonies and it was super. I said that's great, you've got your first number one hit. I was so confident about it, and I gave "How Do You Do It" to Gerry, and that became number one too, so I was justified both ways. That was the beginning of them

MM: Did you ever think they'd be able to follow up "Please Please Me" with more of their compositions?

MARTIN: It all happened so fast then, events moved so quickly. Brian was pressurising them all the time to write new material, and they were caught up in this success whirlwind, and they wanted to continue writing. They'd come to me and say "what do you think of this?" and that's how "From Me To You" happened. As soon as we'd made "Please Please Me" I decided to make an album very quickly, and I brought them down for just one day. We started at 10 o'clock in the morning and finished at 11 o'clock at night and made the first album. Brian was also caught up on this success thing, and he wanted to load me with a lot of other stuff then ... it was a kind of partnership: "I'll give you the raw material and you give me the goods and we'll sell it." It was a very happy year but it was terribly hard work. I was in the studios the whole time, and I've never worked so hard in my whole life.

MM: When did the group's attitude to you start changing, and vice versa? I expect that "With The Beatles" and "Beatles For Sale" were made in much the same way as "Please Please Me," weren't they?

MARTIN: Even though they'd written their own songs, they had them as songs rather than as records. They weren't thinking in terms of records ... they were thinking of a chorus, a middle eight and an ending. When I started off with them I'd organise their beginnings and endings and their solos. It seems terrible elementary now, but when they sang the song first I'd time the chorus, and when it came to one minute 20 seconds I'd say, "Right, it's not long enough - go back to the middle eight" or else we'd have a little guitar solo or a bit of piano. It was all dead simple, and gradually the collaboration grew. It was just the four of them and if there was any keyboard stuff I'd put it in. It wasn't until "Yesterday" that we started using other instruments.

MM: When did you start noticing their use of unusual construction, like odd bars of 2/4 and so on?

MARTIN: I can't really remember. They never noticed it at all

MM: You never tried to make them iron it out and write 32-bar songs?

MARTIN: Not a bit, I recognised that those aberrations, so to speak, were part of them. It would have been silly to change them, because that would have destroyed their spirit. I don't think I ever quarrelled with them musically at all. the only time I ever really came to blows with them was over something quite different, which was a record sleeve. It was one that was never issued over here. They were dressed up as butchers, and it came out in America. It was their idea of a joke.

MM: In the early days, did John and Paul really write together?

MARTIN: Yes, but they also wrote separately. "Please Please Me" and "From Me To You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" were undoubtedly collaborative efforts. They'd sit down and literally construct the songs together. I can't remember the first individual songs, although obviously even before I met them they were writing individually, but if you go through them you can hear which of them are John-oriented and which are Paul-oriented. "Yesterday" is obviously Paul, and that's an interesting point because it was the first time we ever used anyone other than Beatles on a record. There was no one on that record but Paul and a string quartet.

MM: How much part did you take in the creation of "Yesterday"? Presumably Paul wrote all the melody and lyric.

MARTIN: Oh sure. What happened was that he had this song which'd been kicking around for a long time. He'd play it to me on the piano, and it was called "Scrambled Egg." He was looking for lyrics all the time, and we all thought it was a good tune. When he'd finished it and he wanted to record it, I said that I couldn't see what Ringo could do with a drumbeat on a song like this. I told him the best thing to do was to go down to the studio and just sing it, so he just played the guitar and sang. I honestly couldn't think what to do with it - except to put strings on it. Paul said "What ... Norrie Paramour stuff? Mantovani? No." Then I had the idea of using a string quartet, a very classical thing, and Paul thought it was a great idea.

MM: It seemed like a big step at the time

MARTIN: It was. I spent a day with him, getting his ideas on how the strings should sound, and I went and wrote the score for the string quartet and recorded it.

MM: Did you notice them growing apart, developing distinct personalities?

MARTIN: Paul and John had their own identifiable styles: Paul was the syrupy one and John was the hard one. But the rift wasn't there then. They were really a unit

MM: Being in that highly-pressurised situation must have pushed them together.

MARTIN: Even Brian was outside that little castle. Brian and I were looking on

MM: Did Brian ever have anything to do with the actual music?

MARTIN: Nothing at all. He was quite right not to. The relationship was fine - Brian was very much the businessman, fixing up all the dates and so on, and he had that tremendous air of ... a snooty air with people which sold the Beatles as being more important. He had a great manner, really. He liked to be considered a part of the music. In fact he was very hurt one day in the studio: the boys were downstairs and I was talking to them through an intercom. Brian picked up the mike and said, "Why don't you do such-and-such" and John said "Brian, you look after your money, and we'll look after our music." Brian flushed to the roots of his hair and never said any more. He was obviously very hurt by that.

MM: "Rubber Soul" always seemed to me to be about their most "perfect" album - it's the last of the "live" albums, really.

MARTIN: Yes, the last of the non-fabricated albums. I heard it again for the first time in ages while I was on holiday last year, and it sounded pretty good.

MM: "Revolver" was a step away from that, into using the resources of the studio. Was that a conscious move?

MARTIN: I think so. The boys were curious all the time about the music and the world around them, and they were constantly exploring. I was trying to tell them as much as I knew about it ... I'd spend some time with John, playing him some classical music, Ravel and so on, and it didn't come through to him very much. But they were into all sorts of things like Stockhausen ... they discovered him very quickly in those days, and "Tomorrow Never Knows" was obviously influenced by him. I'd been doing some electronic music before they came along anyway. I issued a single called "Time Beat" - d'you remember that? It was put out under the name of Ray Cathode, and I'd done it with the Radiophonics Workshop

MM: But did they discover it for themselves?

MARTIN: They discovered Stockhausen for themselves. I guess we talked a lot about things and it's very difficult to put your finger on who discovered what. "Tomorrow Never Knows" though ... they'd bought themselves tape-recorders and they'd started playing with them in their own homes ... I think Paul discovered it first ... they got into making little loops for themselves. On any tape recorder, if you cover the erase head and put on a loop of tape, you can put on a sound and if you switch it off after a few seconds it keeps going round and round, overdubbing itself. You can build up a funny whirling kind of sound, and by playing that at various speeds they got all these weird sounds. For "Tomorrow Never Knows" they all went away and made loops at various speeds, and brought them to me. I'd play them on a machine, keep some and discard others, and we eventually ended up with eight loops of different sounds. We'd already laid down a basic track of John's voice, and the drums, and bass I think, and we'd already put John's voice through a Leslie speaker, because he'd said to me "I want my voice to sound as though it is coming from a hill top in Tibet" - obviously he was hung up on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He wanted a voice in which you could hear the words, but it had to have an ethereal effect, so I put it through the Leslie and he was knocked out with it. Then putting all these loops on, we got eight tape machines and put one loop on each, and I fed each of those machines into the control desk, so that by raising any of the faders at any moment you could bring up the sound of any one particular loop. We already had the rhythm track and the voice, so then we did a mix, and brought up any loop we fancied at any particular time. That's how we got that effect.

MM: Did you see all these developments as being a good thing for pop music?

MARTIN: Oh yes, because by this time we were so established that we could afford to take risks, and we could experiment. It was only one track on the whole album, and if people didn't like it - hard luck. It was an experiment, an indulgence if you like, and we thought it was worthwhile.

MM: There seems to be some dispute about how "Eleanor Rigby" was created. Do you remember it taking shape?

MARTIN: Not the song, but I do remember the recording taking place. I had assumed that it was all Paul ... in fact I do remember, actually at the recording Paul was missing a few lyrics, and wanting them, and going round asking people "What can we put in here?" and Neil and Mal and I were coming up with suggestions. Rather petty, really ... everyone contributed things occasionally.

MM: What about the arrangement - much the same as "Yesterday"?

MARTIN: It was rather more complicated, in that I took as my model some writing of an American film composer, he's got the same name as the guy who runs the Northern Dance Orchestra ... Bernard Herrman.

MM: Oh, he did the music for Psycho ...

MARTIN: That's right. He'd written for a film called Fahrenheit 451, and the string writing in that was great. That was my model for "Eleanor Rigby" I worked a bit with Paul, getting his ideas on harmonies and so on, and that's how it evolved. It was comparatively easy because Paul was able to play the tune on the piano, and I could translate it for the strings in the style of Bernard Herrmann.

MM: Then there was "Sgt Pepper" ...

MARTIN: That was an incredible thing, because it took on its own character, it grew despite us. It was a complete change of life, a very long and arduous series of recordings, and I suppose that looking back on it, it wouldn't have happened if the boys hadn't got into the drug scene. But I can also say that it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been NOT on the drug scene, because if I hadn't been a normal person, I don't think "Pepper" would ever have been formed in that way, I don't think it would have been coherent ...

MM: Did you consciously have to pull them together for it?

MARTIN: No, I just had to be patient. You can't do much with a guy when he's giggling all the time.

MM: Did it start off as just another album?

MARTIN: Yes. It started off with "Strawberry Fields," and that wasn't all hung up. It was quite straightforward, and I love that, I still think it's one of the best things they've ever done, and it was very much John's song. This was when the two of them became very separated to my mind: "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" were done at the same time, but they were completely different. One was very much Paul and one was very much John. It was in November of that year, we started off with "Strawberry Fields" and then we did "When I'm 64" and then we did "Penny Lane" and then we had a break for Christmas. So that was the beginning of "Pepper" ... we needed a single out so we put those two songs out, otherwise, I guess they would have gone on the album, as did "When I'm 64."

MM: In what sense do you feel that the songs on "Pepper" were the product of their involvement with acid and so on?

MARTIN: It was the beginning of psychedelia, the imagery in their little minds. They were ready for it in the creative way, they wanted something to blossom anyway, and if they hadn't been on drugs, it's possible something like that would've happened, but not quite so flowery, maybe. Certainly all the attributes to drugs afterwards wee totally misplaced ... "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" honestly was a phrase that young Julian Lennon had come out with. The song itself. all that stuff about "floating downstream with garlands in your hair" obviously ... it's a good song.

MM: But surely it would be hard to write some of those words without ...

MARTIN: I'd dispute this with you ... was Salvador Dali ever on drugs? It's the same kind of surrealism.

MM: What about things like "Mr Kite" and the sound effects?

MARTIN: John got the idea of that from an actual poster - he often pinched things like that for his songs - and I thought it was a great idea. When he came to record it he said he wanted to convey the impression of sawdust in the ring, to give the idea of a fairground and a circus. So I started working out my electronic sounds to -make it just that. I got lots and lots of steam-organ sounds, genuine calliope noises, which are tapes of "Liberty Bell," Sousa marches, that kind of thing. I spent the morning with an engineer, put them all on one tape, and asked him to cut them up into sections 15 inches long, which is about a second in length. He did that and they were all in a row on the desk. I said "Now throw them in the air and pick 'em up and join 'em together." Inevitably some were backwards and some were forwards, and when we played it back it was a terrible mish-mash of sounds. That was fine, and we used it as a background noise. It was overlayed throughout the whole piece and then on top of that we put Mal Evans playing bass harmonica and both John and I playing organ, I was on a Hammond and he was on a Lowrey. He was playing the tune and I was playing the harmonies, and the runs, because he said he wanted kind of "swooping noises" on it. To get that I played chromatic runs going up and down on the Hammond, at half speed. We slowed the tape down, and went down an octave. I was quite pleased with that ... it was a sound picture thing and I was doing really what I'd been doing with Peter Sellers, building up a little picture. Most of John's writing at that time was coming from little observations, like seeing the poster. The "Day In The Life" thing, the controversial bit about holes in the road which a lot of American journalists thought were puncture marks in your skin, was an extract from the Daily Mail.

MM: There's a little legend that says that, although John and Paul wrote the basic components of "Day In The Life," you were responsible for picking up the pieces and sticking them together.

MARTIN: No, let's explain that. John had this song, which started off with his observation, and his part was the beginning and end, and Paul's was the middle bit. We started recording it with Paul on piano and John on guitar, and we decided we needed another riff in it, and Paul said, "Well, I've got this song - 'Got Up, got out of bed'," ... and he was going to make that a separate song. He said, "You can use it if you like, put it in your one. Will it fit?" They thoight about it for a bit and decided it would work, and they wanted something differentin it but didn't know what. They decided that they were going to pit a lot of just rhythm in it, and add something later. So I said let's make it a definite number of bars, let's have 24 bars of just rhythm in two places, and we'll decide what to do with them later. They said "How are we going to know it's 24 bars, because it's a long time?" So we had Mal standing by the pianocounting "One ... two ... three" and in fact he had an alarm clock, because he was timing the thing as well, and it actually went off. On the record you can hear Mal saying "21 ... 22 .l.." if you listen. When we'd done it I asked them what they were going to do with those bloody great gaps. Paul said he wanted a symphony orchestra, and I said don't be silly, Paul, it's all right having 98 men, but you can do it with a smaller amount. He said, "I want a symphony orchestra to freak out." So I said "If you really want one, let me write something for it." He said, "No, I don't want you to. If you write it, it'll be all you. Let's have just something freaking out." I said let's be practical, you can't get an orchestra in there and say "Freak out, fellers," because nothing would happen. hey'd just look round embarrassed and make a few funny noises. So I booked a 41-piece orchestra, half the normal symphony orchestra, and I spent some time with Paul and John. i wrote out the obvious underlying harmonies, and during the main 24-bar sections John and Paul suggested that we should have a tremendous shreik, starting out quietly and finishing up with a tremendous noise? So I took each instrument in the orchestra and at the beginning of the 24 bars I wrote down their lowest note, whatever it was so that the cello for instance had a bottom C, and at the end of the 24 bars, I gave them their highest note related to the chord of E. And throughout the 24 bars I just wrote "poco-a-poco gliss" and when it came to the session I told the musicians that they had to slide very gradually up and those people in the woodwind who need to take breaths should take them at random. It was just a gentle slither. But when we came to do it, the boys said they wanted to make a real event of it. So they got all their friends to come along and dress up and at that time Mick and Marianne Faithfull came along and all their Apple Shop friends - the Dutch people - and there must have been about 40 of them, all freaking out with joss-sticks. Paul said "We're going to be in our flowers but we don't expect you to do that because we know you're not that kind of person." I said "Thank you very much." He said, "But I want you to wear evening dress, and the orchestra too." So I booked the orchestra in evening dress, and when it came to the point Paul had brought a lot of carnival gear - funny hats and false noses - and I distributed them among the orchestra. I wore a Cyrano de Bergerac nose myself. Eric Gruneberg who's a great fiddle-player selected a gorilla's paw for his bow-hand, which was lovely. It was great fun.

MM: What was the pace of your life like during the years you were recording the Beatles?

MARTIN: I never knew when I'd be in the studio. As like as not it'd be ten o'clockone morning and "We're recording at eight o'clock tonight." No question of "Can you be there?" It was "You will be there." So one was constantly in a state of preparedness, and this was unfortunate where other artists were concerned. Up to the point of "Let It Be," there was only one orchestration that was ever done by anybody else apart from me. I had conceitedly thought it was because they liked my style of scoring. I thought I was better than anybody else and I was very upset once when Paul rang me up and said that he wanted to do a score on a song that we'd been working together on anyway ... I knew the song pretty well. He said "Come at two o'clock this afternoon," and I said, "I'm sorry Paul , I can't." He said "Why not?" and I said "I've got something else on. I'm recording Cilla." I said I'd go round and see him the next day. Apparently he got Mike Leander to turn up at two o'clock ... that's the only time he worked with anybody else.

MM: Which song was it?

MARTIN: "She's Leaving Home." Mike gave me the score, I booked the musicians, I altered the rhythm a bit, but not very much. It was basically Mike's score. I was rather upset by the peremptory way in which it was done. But it wouldn't have happened like that in the early days.

MM: John recently said something about you: "Show me some of George Martin's music. I'd like to hear some." How do you feel when one of them says something like that about you?

MARTIN: That's silly, of course. I guess I feel sorry for him, because he's obviously schizophrenic in that respect. He must have a split mind ... either he doesn't mean it, or if he does mean it he can't be in a normal state of mind at that time. The contrary thing is that in June of last year I was in the States and I did the David Frost Show, with Diahann Carroll. Obviously, we talked about the Beatles, and I ended up plating the piano with Diahann singing ... one of those terrible American showbiz things ... it appeared to be quite a happy show and I didn't think any more about it. Then about six weeks after I got back, I had a postcard from the Beverly Hills Hotel, written by John in his own fair hand, saying that he caught the Frost show, thought it was great, and it was so nice of me to say such nice things about him and how he hoped that my wife and children were well and Love from John and Yoko. That was the last time I heard from him, and that's the other side of the coin. He'd probably hate people to know that he was that sentimental.

MM: What was your opinion of the Beatles' involvement with the Maharishi? Did you feel that it was sidetracking them?

MARTIN: No ... they tried to convince me that I should take it up, but what they couldn't appreciate was that they were going through most of the things that people go through when they're adolescents anyway. They were suddenly discovering new things ... religion, mathematic arguments, the universe ... as though no one else had discovered it before. I said "It's all right for people who like that sort of thing, but it's not for me, I'd rather go down to my cottage in the country and look at my pigs." So they did their little thing ... I didn't honestly think it would last, and it didn't.

MM: The next landmark must be the White Album which was put down hard although I think there's a lot of good stuff on it.

MARTIN: I didn't like it because there was too much material. They'd written an awful lot of stuff while they were out in India, and they'd come back just wanting to put them down. I said "Okay let's put them down and issue the best." But when we'd got them all down they didn't want to ditch any of them, they wanted to make it a double album. There was such a varied selection of styles ... there were obviously John songs and Paul songs and George songs ... and there was no unity in the thing. After the unity of "Pepper" ... you know, "Pepper" became a unit only when we put it together. It was designed that way. It wasn't until I started piecing it together and cutting in sound effects and so on that it really became a whole. I thought this was a good thing, and I was rather sad when we did the White Album that we'd chucked that out of the window. I still wanted to do a coherent work, and I didn't really persuade them to get down to it until "Abbey Road," and even then John was very against that. It was only Paul who really wantedthe unifying bit. Curiously enough, I like the last bit of the White Album - "Revolution No 9" - but a lot of people slated us for that.

MM: Do you remember how that was made?

MARTIN: It was just an extension of "Tomorrow Never Knows," a similar kind of thing with various tapes, and I guess this was largely influenced by Yoko, because it was her kind of scene. But again I was painting a picture in sound, and if you sat in front of the speakers you just lost yourself in stereo. All sorts of things are happening in there: you can see people running all over the place and fires burning, it was real imagery in sound. It was funny in places too, but I suppose it went on a bit long.

MM: "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is one of the best tracks ...

MARTIN: That was a great one, tremendous.

MM: How did you get the scratchy 78 effect?

MARTIN: That's dead easy, anyone can do it; you just literally put on a scratchy surface and speed up the voices slightly. That song started off with my quoting to them from around the time of the Kennedy thing a magazine headline, a sporting magazine ...

MM: Guns & Ammo?

MARTIN: Something like that ... and that was the headline over a picture of a man with a gun in his hands. I showed it to John, and he made a song of it.

MM: To me, it's also the album where George starts to blossom as a composer.

MARTIN: Yes. He'd been awfully poor up to then, actually ... some of the stuff he'd written was dead boring. The impression sometimes given is that we put him down ... I don't think we ever did that, but possibly we didn't encourage him enough.

MM: Was he given an allocation of two songs per album?

MARTIN: Not really. He'd write, with difficulty, and he'd bring them and we'd say, "Okay we'll put them on the album then." But it was that way ... we wouldn't say, "What've you got then, George?" We'd say, "Oh, you've got some more have you?" I must say that looking back it was a bit hard on him, but it was natural because the others were so talented. It was always slightly condescending, and it was a similar thing with Ringo. He'd come along with "Octopus's Garden" or something ... he always wanted to do something, because he was left out in the cold. It wasn't until recently that George has really come through, I suppose that "Something" was his breakthrough.

MM: What did you have to do with the recording of "Let It Be?"

MARTIN: Yes, I produced the whole album originally, and got a great shock when I found it "re-produced" ... or over-produced, as I put it.

MM: What's your opinion of what Spector did to it?

MARTIN: It was an unhappy album from the beginning, because this really was the time of dissent. It was before "Abbey Road," and I really thought that "Let It Be" was going to be that last album any of us did. They were all fighting like mad. John insisted that it was going to be a natural album, and he didn't want any faking, any of the "Pepper" stuff, any production. He said to me "Your job is to make sure that we get a good sound. I don't want editing or overdubs of voices or instruments. It's got to be like it is." So we made it like that, and it was very tedious because they kept repeating the same things over and over again, and it's very difficult when you get to the 27th take to work out whether number 13 was better than number 19. None of it was ever very good, none of it was perfect - it would have been if you could have edited things together. It had this rawness, and I could quite see the advantage of it, so we made up this album which was an honest album, and that was it. It was left lying, and we recorded "Abbey Road," which was back to square one because we were able to produce it. I was much happier then, and after that.

MM: Did you think when you were making "Abbey Road" that it was going to be the last album?

MARTIN: No, I really didn't. They'd got back, they were much happier with themselves. It was very much more of a produced album ... we used a Moog for the first time, on George's "Here Comes The Sun." Everybody seemed to be working hard, and we'd got things nicely organised. It wasn't until after that that things started happening badly. I knew that John was going in the studios, doing some work on "Let It Be," but I understood that as they were making a film of it, they were doing some film tracks. When the record finally came out, I got a hell of a shock.

MM: You didn't know anything about it?

MARTIN: Nothing. Neither did Paul, and Paul wrote to me to say that he was pretty appalled, if you'll forgive the pun. All the lush un-Beatle-like orchestrations with harps and choirs in the background. And it was so contrary to what John asked for in the first place.

MM: Could you tell me what you think of what each one has done individually since the last Beatles record?

MARTIN: I have great admiration for George. He's done tremendously because it's a sort of devotion to duty as far as he's concerned. We forced him into being a loner, I guess ... he could never collaborate with anybody in his writing and therefore when the split came he had more strength because he was forced to be alone. He learned an awful lot about producing, studio techniques, and so on, so that he was able ... obviously, any one of them had the power - because they had the money - to spend as much time in the recording studio as they liked, and I know that when George made his album he spent six months doing nothing but overdubbing his own voice 16 times and producing his album. To have the tenacity to do that in itself is something of an achievement, but to go along and actually produce good sounds and good music and good lyrics with it is tremendous. I'm full of admiration for that. I think the other two have suffered by comparison, because they've each indulged themselves in their own way. John's bebome more obvious in a way ... "Power To The People" is a rehash of "Give Peace A Chance," and it isn't really very good. It doesn't have the intensity that John's capable of. Paul, similarly with his first album ... it was nice enough, but very much a home-made affair, and very much a little family affair. I don't think he ever really rated it as being as important as the stuff he'd done before. I don't think Linda is a substitute for John Lennon, any more than Yoko is a substitute for Paul McCartney."



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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2006, 07:51:26 PM »

What about this one from this thread?:
Amazing tracks, I must say ...

Interview with Sir George Martin about the soundtrack of Yellow Submarine film.

"SIR GEORGE MARTIN Interview Transcript
Music Director on "Yellow Submarine"
November 12, 1995

Bob Hieronimus: Well, it is with great pleasure that we are welcoming George Martin to our program tonight, to offer his insight into the making of the Yellow Submarine. Thank you George for joining us on our quest to understand an animation landmark.

George Martin: Hi Bob, it's nice to be with you.

BH: Thank you. I'd love to spend a little time on your enjoyable publication "A Little Help From My Friends," the clock permitting, but first we have some wonderful Yellow Submarine mysteries to unravel. The June 1, 1966 session, according to Lewisohn was most unusual. The Yellow Submarine production needed sound effects, and it was the trap room in studio 2, that when emptied gave the Yellow Submarine it's unique sea-going flavor. Could you give us a little history of the contents of the trap room and what items were used to enliven Ringo's singing?

GM: Well, yea. It sounds all very sort of technical, but in fact it was very much a kind of bootlace affair. I mean, in the Abbey Road in those days was a fairly primitive place by today's standards. And well, long before the Beatles came along, I'd been working a lot on spoken word records and comedy records, in particular Peter Sellers and Spike Mulligan and beyond the fringe people like Dudley Moore and Peter Cooke and so on. And so I was quite used to using sound effects. And in those days, there was no such things as samplers or digital effects or even tape cassettes.

You'd use recorded effects and then they'd have to come off discs. So we tried to make our own, and we used to have all sorts of things. We used to have roller skates for making train noises over rails and I remember once trying to effect the noise of someone's head being chopped off. I used a cabbage for that, it was very effective.

Well, now the trap room at studio 2 was under the stairs that went down into the studio. And it was full of general sort of percussion instruments really. Like you get in the kitchen of a symphony. I mean there were tambourines, and a gong and that kind of thing. And all sorts of weird things, whistles and even a little cupboard with a door that opened and shut so you could get the noise of a door opening if you wanted to have someone coming in and out of a room. And it was really a junkyard more than anything else. It was like an old-fashioned antique shop with lots of little pieces and bits and pieces. You didn't know what they did. And, I think, what we used to do, really, was to make up our effects as we went along. And we thought well, what kind of noise do we want here?

In Yellow Submarine, we used chains that were there and all sorts of bowls and things. And of course, we used bowls of water too. And bottles with straws, blowing them into the water, to get the effect of submarines surfacing, that kind of thing. It was nice to do because it, we were all being very inventive. And it was fun, it was like a party almost. So it was good fun.

BH: I understand that the June 1, 1966 Yellow Submarine session, there were numerous other friends and musicians who contributed to the production, which ran about twelve hours that day. Could you mention a few names of the people that joined in that production?

GM: Would you know, I honestly can't remember. I mean Mark lists those, in his book. But it's a long while ago, and I do remember a lot of people did come in, you probably know better than I do.

BH: Probably some the Rolling Stones, I think Brian Jones.

GM: Yea, I remember the Stones came in.

BH: And even your wife, I think your wife Judy was in there.

GM: My wife came along, absolutely.

BH: Well, your contributions to the Yellow Submarine L.P., where an entire side of music which you composed using a 41-piece orchestra, now it is this series of pieces that I am most interested in, but first we should focus on the movie itself. What kind of outline were you provided with, and how did you synchronize your pieces to what was transpiring in the film?

GM: Well, again it's a bit different from what it is today. Because when the film was first mooted, the Beatles didn't like the idea at all. In fact they wouldn't have any part in it. And when Brian had committed them, it was part of a deal he did with United Artists, I think. But when Brian committed them to the picture and he said that they would provide new songs, they said, "Well, we're not going to write any decent songs, we'll give them all the rejects we didn't really want."

I was asked to do score by the Director, who was a charming Canadian, a really nice guy, George Dunning was his name. He's dead now, unfortunately.

The Producer of the film, John Coates was quite inexperienced in the world of producing animated films. He wasn't executive producer, Al Brodax did the overall... the thing was actually started by the American company. But the people on the ground, who actually did the production in England were headed up by John Coates. And curiously enough, I'm speaking here now from their studios in London, and in our Number One studio downstairs, we have John Coates working. Doing the tracts for an animated film of The Wind and the Willows, with Allen Bennett and Michael Palin and one or two other stars here. So what a curious coincidence, all these years later.

And George Dunning brought me in and said, "Look, we're going to need as much help we can from you, because we have no time at all. We've got a year in which to complete this film." Which is [nothing] for time for a full-length animation. He said, "I'm going to give you our sketches, our story boards, I'm going to give you, as soon as we come anywhere near finishing a reel, I'll give you what we have and I'll let you decide what you want to write for the background score."

So I said, "Well, don't you want to give me any directions?" He said, "No, be as imaginative as you can and if you want to do a sort of Mickey Mouse music to sort of bring out what's on the actual screen, do that as well, but do whatever you want." He gave me complete carte blanche. He said, "If you don't mind doing it this way, when it comes to the dub, we'll see what happens to the effects, and we'll see who wins. And some of your stuff might be taken out, but if you accept that, it'll be ok." And that's the way we did it. And we did it that way because there was so little time. We couldn't afford the luxury of finishing the film and then me adding the score to it.

So, I had a moviola installed in my office, my studio. And I made my own measurements. They gave me the reels as they came along. They were all higgeldy piggeldy, all over the place. I'd have reel 4 one week, and reel 7 the next, and then reel 6 and so on. And I would look at each reel, I knew which reels were which, and I had my script, and I knew what we were doing. And I just wrote what came into my head, really that's what it amounted to. And we collected all the scores together and at the end of it we just recorded it and hoped for the best. And it seemed to work out ok.

BH: It certainly didn't turn out to be Mickey Mouse music, George! Now about the original music you composed for Yellow Submarine, the first selection is Pepperland. It conveys a kind of up-lifting and a longing feeling. How was this achieved?

GM: Well, again working strictly to the film, where you had this lovely, lovely land of brightness and color. And everybody is smiling and happy and butterflies flitting around and it was that kind of image that, it was like a dream world, really. And it was slightly old-fashioned, all the people were wearing dresses that didn't seem too contemporary, but that fitted in with the dream, too. And so I thought it needed a classical approach, I didn't think it needed contemporary music. And I approached my score from that point of view, and I thought well I must convey a theme here, that is lilting, that is light, but classically orchestral and something that gives a happy feeling at the end of it. And so, well, I guess that's all I tried to do, and the result was Pepperland. I don't know if it does it or not, but that was what I tried.

BH: Well, I think that it really instilled within me, as I noted earlier, this longing feeling of wanting to be there. And I just don't know how, I'm not a musician, I just don't know how that was created, but it was right there. You know, and then there was the Sea of Holes and the Sea of Time, that's the longest of all the pieces. And starts with east Indian music, perhaps.

GM: Yes, that was really George Harrison putting his little aura in on it. Because, well, George and I get on very well and certainly he was the reason why Indian music was ever treated in the Beatles and the character in the Yellow Submarine that was George, sort of made a point of this. Whenever you saw George, he was, you would hear Indian music. So, I used a tamboradrone as the background. And I wrote my strings with bendy notes that sound like the Indian delrubas. I just tried to convey the effect of Indian music in a lot of that.

BH: Well, you had done some earlier work, I understand with East Indian musicians, is that right?

GM: That's right, yes. And even before I met George, I had been doing some Indian work, because again, going back to Peter Sellers' time, one of tracts I did with Peter Sellers, years and years ago, was a spoof thing, with him singing Wouldn't It Be Lovely from My Fair Lady as an Indian. As an Indian doctor. And he did the Indian accent very well. It was quite funny. He was saying, "My goodness, wouldn't it be loverly..." you know, in his style of speech and singing. And to do that, I used an Indian group of musicians, tambora, sitar, tabla and added classical westerners for the rest of them. I got used to using Indian people before George came along, so it was like going back in time a little bit.

BH: Do I detect any snips of backward playing tapes in that piece?

GM: Well, I think, I certainly used backward music in Sea of Monsters. I can't remember in the Sea of Time. I would tend to do that all the time, you know? I tended to do all sorts of weird things. Just to get effects. In the Sea of Monsters, the backward noise was very useful, because there was a thing, a vacuum cleaner monster that went around sucking up everything on the sea floor.

BH: Yea, how did you make that noise?

GM: Well, it ends up, incidentally if you remember, with the monster himself sucking up the corner of the screen. And sucking himself up in fact. Well, I thought it needed sucking up noises, well, I've always thought a backwards sounds were kind of funny and sucking up kind of noises. And you know, you could have a drum, a drum cymbal for example, the noise of a cymbal, it becomes a kind of shwupp!! It sounds like someone inhaling or sucking something up. So I thought I could do that with a whole orchestra. And I wrote a whole section which lasted about three minutes, I think of backwards music.

And of course to record it, you've got to turn your film round, back to front and record the music back to front and then turn it round the other way. Well, I didn't think about this, but what happened was that when we actually recorded it with a large orchestra in a studio, and I saw the film, in order to turn it back to front, it also turned out to be upside down. And that never occurred to me before I asked them to do it. So I was watching an upside-down film at the same time. And we recorded the music, and then of course, played it back and it seemed to work all right, it was the right effect.

But there was, the guy I used on the session, the engineer, obviously had a great sense of humor, because at the end of the take, he didn't switch the red light off immediately, and I saw him saying something into the microphone. And when we went to play it back, what he'd been saying into the microphone was something like, [imitates backwards speech] And I thought, "What the Hell is going on?" And sure enough, he'd taken the time to work out at what it'd said, so that when he'd played the thing back in real time, it said, "Yellow Submarine, take three," or whatever it was.

BH: Extraordinary! Oh that's some involvement. I'll tell you...

GM: It was full of crazy people.

BH: Yea, well, there was a classical segment ending in a drum and a kind of a laughing sound. Could you identify that short, it must have been three or four...

GM: Oh yes, that was more of a gag for England than for America. Because we used to have a very, very popular television advert here which advertised Hamlet cigars. Which used the Bach piece. Famous Bach section, which religiously copied and because the monster in particular was smoking a cigar which explodes. And so I used this Bach piece of music. And at the appropriate moment, where he explodes, there's a huge drum noise and laughing sound, it's just, you know, a gag really.

BH: That is really interesting. That really is. The March of the Meanies conveys an unusual malefic military force. How did you achieve that kind of magic?

GM: Well, I guess it's just ordinary forces really. I mean I was using all the brass instruments in the orchestra. Tubas and trombones and I gave a very macatto feel to the strings, a very sort of choppy beat to it. Not unlike what the Hitchcock Bernard Herman used to do, and when he used to score for strings. And not unlike what I did in Eleanor Rigby, to a certain extent. I applied a very macatto effect on the strings. With a brass... I gave a kind of sinister sound to it all.

BH: It sure did.

GM: And actually, I also used, you know again, we had no such things as samples or good sound effects so, there are written into the score, notes for the keyboard player on the Bosendorffer Grand to put on his standing pedal and drop a metal bar onto the strings of the piano at very appropriate points. Which made pretty nasty noises too.

BH: Well, Pepperland laid waste is kind of low sounding, sometimes quivering, with staccato jabs, slightly reminiscent of Fifties or Sixties sci-fi music, you mentioned Alfred Hitchcock, that was very, very effective. What were your thoughts, that lead you to describing that scene?

GM: What I was trying to convey there was the kind of waste land that was left after the war. It was a bit like one always thinks of war, you know, stark scenery and no birds, no trees, no leaves, nothing living. And just emptiness. And I thought, scoring it, I was trying to give that empty and rather devastating effect, you know, the feeling that there's, of hopelessness, really. What it amounted to. I guess it was just an interpretation.

I always feel that music for me, is like painting a picture. If you're putting sounds onto tape, you are effectively using a palette of colors, of which your orchestra gives you, to paint that picture.

BH: Well, Yellow Submarine and Pepperland is a return of hope to a despondent, but once luxuriant paradise. It's a bit nostalgic going from strings to reeds and finally a full orchestra repeating the refrain, "We all live in a Yellow Submarine." Now, in your book, "With a Little Help From My Friends" you relate the story that one day Paul McCartney came to you and said, "I've been listening to Beethoven and I just sussed it out, you know the beginning of the Fifth Symphony? It's only unison, there are no chords. Everybody's playing the same notes, that's fantastic! It's a great sound!" "Of course, it is," you rejoined, "the whole orchestra speaks with one voice. That's genius." Ba Ba Ba Boom! Were you actually making your full orchestra speak with one voice in the final piece Yellow Submarine in Pepperland?

GM: Well, I guess so. I mean it was a triumph in the end and everyone was happy and Yellow Submarine was a good tune to blare out. In fact, they weren't all playing the same notes, 'cause there are chords in it, but it was to have a tremendous amount of different notes with a large orchestra. If you get them all playing the same notes, it's pretty effective. And certainly, I mean that's all a part of orchestration, it gives more weight, and more solidity to the thing.

BH: I was surprised at his surprise, frankly. The way it was pulled together. To your mind, was the Yellow Submarine movie no more than an adventure of four lads restoring hope, love and beauty to a fouled, overrun Utopia? Does it still have meaning for the young today from your perspective?

GM: I think it does. I think that one of the nice things about the Yellow Submarine movie is that it seems to be perennial. People enjoy watching from each generation. And it was like the Beatles themselves. You know the Beatles seem to find new audience each time another generation comes along. And I think Yellow Submarine fits into that category, it's kind of timeless. Because it is good and evil and I'm great believer in good, and I'm a great believer in hope for all people, that goodness will prevail. And I think that's a story that Yellow Submarine conveys to young people.

BH: Another unusual thing about it was that no one dies within the movie, and that the victory...

GM: Not even the Blue Meanies.

BH: That's right!

GM: But, it's pretty exciting, I mean there are some pretty nasty things going around with the Flying Glove and everything else.

BH: But still again, the darker forces then change. They evolve, that's very hopeful and it's a far cry from the kind of cartoons we see today, in which a guy comes in with a big gun, and he's the guy that wins everything. Now, if we have time, and this is one of our last questions, I'd love to talk with you about your book, "A Little Help From My Friends." I learned much from it. You've been so generous with your time. Would you expound on a point you made in your book when you noted that the Sgt. Pepper album spoke for the sixties. Please review a few of those ideas with our audience.

GM: Well, I think it did. I think that's one of the successes of Sgt. Pepper. That it was enormously timely. And the young people in the 1960's identified with it immediately, because, I guess the young people had been having years of repression really. They felt that the, you know, after the war everything was very austere, particularly in Europe. And regulations and rules were there. And for the first time in the '60's, they were tending, young people were tending to say "Hey, wait a minute, we want to live a bit. We want to have color in our lives, we want to not dress the way our fathers did, we wouldn't mind putting on some frilly waistcoats and some color and we don't have to do this. We can look for ourselves and make our own lives."

And I think Sgt. Pepper gave them an opening there, along with all the other things of the '60's. The Mary Quant period and the Carnaby Street era. People were realizing that they had their lives in their own hands. They didn't have to rely upon other people. And they could make it what they wanted, good or bad. And I think Sgt. Pepper showed that way, that you didn't need to be conforming all the time, you could be adventurous and be successful. And it didn't necessarily convey the message which a lot of people misinterpreted, I think, that the way to do this is through drugs. A lot of people said that Pepper was a drug album. It wasn't for me, I can tell you that. And I think that if it had been for me, I don't think Pepper would have been made the way it was.

BH: Well, certainly, I think too much has been made of that point.

GM: Absolutely.

BH: Oh, we're really looking forward to that, and George I want to thank you for joining us and your extremely busy schedule. I understand you were just with Jeff Beck. And we greatly value your contributions in helping to evolve planetary consciousness. And rekindling the hopes and dreams of generations of souls who long to live in Pepperland.

GM: Well, thank you very much Bob.

BH: Well, you've been very kind. And one other thing, would you please say hello to John Coates for us who had joined us a couple of years ago.

GM: I certainly will, absolutely.

BH: And of the things that we wanted to be able to, we didn't know if you knew about the J.R., do you have any interest in J.R.R.Tolkien?

GM: Yes, of course.

BH: Have you heard the BBC production of J.R.R.Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Hobbits?

GM: Yes, indeed.

BH: Do you have copies of it?

GM: I don't have copies, no.

BH: Well, we'll be happy to send them along to you. And if you have any other interest in alternative health or unexplained phenomena, UFOs and ESP, miracles, that's areas that we put a great deal of our probing in, dealing with consciousness and the expansion and the awareness of the fact that we all are one people on one, as corny as it sounds George, that is really, in my opinion, the most important thing about music, and about creation or about human beings.

GM: You're absolutely right! Absolutely right.

BH: Thank you again George. God bless you.

GM: Thank you, bye now.

BH: Bye bye sir."


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2006, 12:28:54 PM »

That is a fascinating read!! Thanks Raxo - my lunch-break isn't long enough though. I'll have to finish reading at home! ;D


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2006, 04:23:57 AM »

It was good but I disagree about George.

Don't Bother Me, I Need You, You Like Me Too Much, Think For Yourself, and If I needed someone are all great songs imo.

All of George's songs are great with the Beatles imo.


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2006, 08:06:06 AM »

You can hardly be serious about You Like Me Too Much. In my opinion it is one of the weakest songs they ever recorded. Btw, interesting read!


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2006, 05:12:55 PM »

Why release the first four albums on CD in mono? Well, why not ...

A 1987 interview with George Martin by Allan Kozinn

This interview with Beatles producer George Martin was conducted by New York Times writer Allan Kozinn on Feb. 23, 1987 for an Arts & Leisure section article (published March 8, 1987) about the release of the first four albums on CD.  ...

ALLAN KOZINN: I understand your reasoning about the mono mixes of the first two albums, those are clearly more solid and punchy in mono. I'm not sure I understand why "Hard Day's Night" and "Beatles for Sale" are out in mono, though.

GEORGE MARTIN: Expediency, I think, in a word. Because I wasn't brought into this until December, by which time EMI had made up their mind what they were going to do, and they really consulted me I suppose out of old fashioned courtesy -- saying, you know, "don't you think we've done rather a good job?" And when I heard what they'd done, I thought they were dreadful. They had presented me with the stereo versions. And I told them that if they had to issue any stereo versions, they should be specially looked at, particularly in these early cases, and I don't think the first two should have been put out in stereo at all. And I think that because they had so little time, they said, well look, we'll put them all out in mono, and if you like you can have another look at them, and maybe number three and four can be transcribed for stereo later on. Now, this was because they had a date to adhere to, and they had to press up a great many records, and I guess they had to make some kind of decision, which they made. And at that time, they also asked me to look at the next batch of records, which is, "Help!" "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver," which are due to come out in April. And I looked at those and found that the stereos of that weren't very good. They were very woolly, and not at all what I thought should be a good issue. I went back to the four-tracks on those and actually did remix them -- not changing anything, but hardening up the sound a little bit, and cutting down a little background noise. By going back to the four tracks, we get a cleaner sound even than you can get with contemporary recording, because four-track one-inch is a much better medium than 24 track two-inch.

ALLAN KOZINN: How possible is it to precisely recreate a mix that you had done 20 years ago from a four track?

GEORGE MARTIN: It's impossible. In a word, it's impossible. Everything is different. The [mixing] desks in those days were tube operated, they weren't transistorized. All the outboard gear that we have today didn't exist. The EQ characteristics are quite different, much cruder. The echo facilities in Abbey Road consisted of a long cellar like room with old drain pipes standing around; they had nothing like electronic echo at all. So yes, it's impossible to get exactly the same, no matter how much you try. But in fact, I think it would be wrong in any case to get the same mix. The mixes that I did in 1964 were fine for vinyl, issued in 1964. When you hear them on CD, they're not fine. Now the reason for this is that you hear a wider frequency range on CD, and you're hearing things that I never intended you to listen to in the first place, in 1964. I was making a record that was designed to cut through the fog of the players of those days. What I'm saying is that the mixes I did then, when they're heard in the form they were done then were fine; but if you're hearing them as CDs, they should be different in order to be the same.

ALLAN KOZINN: Okay, but by now people have heard those mixes on the Mobile Fidelity half-speed mastered pressings, which are probably as clean an LP pressing as you're going to hear. And they let you hear quite a lot of what's on those masters.

GEORGE MARTIN: I don't think those Master pressings are right, I don't approve of those master pressings.


GEORGE MARTIN: Really. What they were trying to do there, and again, those were done without either the Beatles or myself being involved, what they were trying to do is trying to get the same kind of thing you have on CD, but without the CD itself. And I think they forgot that in translating those to the master pressings, the EQs that were being used were appropriate not for that medium, but for the earlier medium. In other words, what you tend to hear in that way, and in fact, what you're hearing even on the CD you're getting now, is a rather harsher sound than was intended.

ALLAN KOZINN: You said that they put out "A Hard Day's Night" and "Beatles for Sale" in mono because of expediency, and because they had a date to meet. But didn't they know, in the four years CD has been out, that they would eventually have to put these things on CD? Didn't they make any kind of provision for having them ready? Wouldn't that have made sense?

GEORGE MARTIN: Well, Mr. Kozinn, I haven't worked for EMI since 1965 -- it's no good asking me that. I'm asking the same question!

ALLAN KOZINN: I was just wondering if I was being fair to EMI in feeling that they jumped into the CD series unprepared, which is the way it looks.

GEORGE MARTIN: I think the CDs do sound, great, I'm just being a little nit-picky.

ALLAN KOZINN: As a collector, I like having both the stereo and mono mixes of everything, because there are cases where there are different vocal takes, different instrumental balances, and that kind of thing.

GEORGE MARTIN: The first two albums, though, you must admit are an absolute horror.

ALLAN KOZINN: Well, it depends. Sure, they sound a lot more solid in mono. But I kind of like being able to look into the instrumental and vocal arrangement in the kind of detail you get on those old stereo mixes.

GEORGE MARTIN: Ah, well, in that case, you'd like to back to the multitracks, or even the individual mike placings when we actually recorded it!

ALLAN KOZINN: Yes, please....

GEORGE MARTIN: It's fascinating to me, actually, on these later albums, of going back to the original four tracks, and remembering. It all came flooding back what we used to do, and remembering -- because even four tracks was pretty limited, as you can imagine, and I tended to put bass and drums on one track, guitars and another, and then vocals with backing vocals on the third track, and keep the fourth track up my sleeve for possible double tracking or solo work. And that still puts an awful lot of responsibility in running the mix right on any one individual track. So that when we come back to recreate it years later, there are not tremendous amounts we can do. Which is just as well, perhaps. But it is fascinating listening to all those--you listen to the outtakes, you listen to the endless tucks and tails, and a lot of times I was in the studio performing with them, and I hear John's voice talking to me, and me talking back, and it's been absolutely fascinating. I've been going back to my youth.

ALLAN KOZINN: In any case, are you mixing them for stereo for the rest of the series?

GEORGE MARTIN: Not necessarily. I have done these particular ones because I thought they were worthy of it. I think they were not the best. See, I was learning too. When I started in 1962 with the Beatles, we only made mono records. By the time 1967 came along, with Pepper and so on, I'd got five years experience and I was able to make a fairly good stereo record. But in the interval, I was learning how to do it. I was experimenting. I was putting voices on one side or the other, I was trying all sorts of different things. And some of those experiments didn't work out well. And in fact, "Help!" in particular was a very rushed album, because of the pressures of the film, I think it sounded a bit rushed, and I just want it to be a bit better than it was. It's pride I guess that makes me say that.

ALLAN KOZINN: I've heard that part of "Rubber Soul" was not thoroughly mixed because EMI demanded the tapes to be out in time by Christmas release and that you didn't have time to finish them. Some tracks are mixed beautifully, and others are actually like "Please Please Me" mixes, with the instruments on one side and the vocals on the other.

GEORGE MARTIN: That's right, well this is the thing I'm telling you about, when I listened to them again, I thought, "did I really do that?"

ALLAN KOZINN: What I've heard, in terms of "Rubber Soul," was that EMI had demanded it so quickly that you hadn't had time to finish mixing.

GEORGE MARTIN: No, that's not true. Putting a voice on the right hand side doesn't make a record more quick to produce. In fact, there is a reason for it which becomes apparent after a while. One of the things we were struggingling with in the days of "Rubber Soul" was the eventual issue of stereo records and how it was going to vary between mono and stereo. When we started in 62 and 63, mono was the only thing. Gradually, stereo came in, very few people had it, rather like CD in England today; and the first albums, if you sold five percent of your total in stereo form, you were lucky. Gradually that balance changed. There came a point where, instead of doing separate mono and stereo mixes, which I always did, we were looking to produce a stereo only mix.

ALLAN KOZINN: And that didn't happen until "Yellow Submarine," which is the same in both formats.

GEORGE MARTIN: Well, I was working towards it.

ALLAN KOZINN: Still, even as late as the "White Album," you've got a different violin solo in "Don't Pass Me By," the airplanes coming in at different times in "Back in the USSR." They were clearly still entirely separate mixes.

GEORGE MARTIN: Yes, we were still doing different things then, but I was still working towards the compatibility, and in fact my attempts on "Rubber Soul" were to find a decent mono result from a stereo record. As you know, if you put something in the center, it comes up four dB louder in mono than it does in stereo. But if you tend to balance your things between one side and the other....And also, I was aware in those days that the majority of record players in the home were built into kind of sideboards, where the speakers were about three feet apart, and the stereo picture was a very near mono one anyway. So I exaggerated the stereo to get a clearer effect. These were experiments. It wasn't a question of rushing, I really was trying all sorts of things.

ALLAN KOZINN: Brian Southall told me the other day that the very first two albums were not released in stereo until much later.

GEORGE MARTIN: That's right.

ALLAN KOZINN: However, I've found some early Parlophone advertisements -- including one in a 1963 tour program -- that not only gives the mono and stereo catalogue numbers, but shows photos of the stereo album covers. They do seem to have been released simultaneously.

The ads

GEORGE MARTIN: [silence] I can't believe that. We issued "Please Please Me" in February 1963, and certainly no stereo mixes were made. Not by me. Not by anybody I know.

[Editor's note: "Please Please Me" was released in March 1963 in mono and April 1963 in stereo; the studio paperwork lists Martin as the producer on the day when both mixes were made.]

ALLAN KOZINN: Well, I have another advertisement that shows "Please Please Me," the "Twist and Shout" EP and the "She Loves You" single -- which, taken together, would place that ad in about August 1963 -- and again, it gives the stereo catalogue number for the album.

GEORGE MARTIN: You have the advantage of me. I was not aware of a stereo album being produced. I thought it had been done after I left in 1965. Certainly I wasn't aware of it at the time. Now, that may seem extraordinary to you, but in 1963 I don't even think I had time to have breakfast. Certainly I didn't do the stereo mixes, and neither did the Beatles. Some geezer at EMI probably looked at this and said, for the minority of stereo people around, we'd better put out a stereo record.

ALLAN KOZINN: Back to the CD remixes. You've done the next three; will "Sgt. Pepper" then be the original mix?

GEORGE MARTIN: I'm certain it will be, and I'm certain that from then on all the mixes will be the originals, except that I don't want them to go out unadulterated. I think the EQs on the CDs may be wrong, so I'd like to look at them and see that they are not quite as strident, or coarse as they might be.

ALLAN KOZINN: What are the possibilities of a mono "Pepper" and a mono "White Album" coming out on CD?

GEORGE MARTIN: Highly unlikely I'd think. Why, do you like the mono albums?

ALLAN KOZINN: Well, yes, but it's not a matter of preference, necessarily. It's just that there are some interesting differences. John's vocal on "Lucy in the Sky," for instance, has that nice echoey phase-shifted sound that's perfect for the song. "She's Leaving Home" is sped up a bit, and doesn't drag as much in mono as in stereo. And in the intro to the "Sgt. Pepper" Reprise, there's an extra bar of drum beats.

GEORGE MARTIN: Ah yes. That was probably cut out to make it tighter. We used to do an awful lot of changing our minds at the last moment, and doing different things, mainly because we didn't think it was that important to be consistent. Of course, history found us out. But again, because I very rarely go back and listen -- I haven't listened to Beatle records for 20 years. You know, once I made the record, that was it, I'd always move on to the next thing. And I always look ahead rather than back, so this has been a strange time, going back. And I know the people who have been aware of all these discrepancies and differences, and I've said to them, well, good luck. If they want to make something out of it, that's fine. And of course, fueling that have been all the myths that have arisen too, and I've sort of looked at that and chuckled. So I've looked at it rather quaintly. I don't think it's all that significant. But I can see that it does cause a certain amount of consternation from people who devote their lives to analyzing the differences.

ALLAN KOZINN: I don't think it's a matter of consternation, actually. It's one of the things that makes collecting fun. Finding differences and oddities....

GEORGE MARTIN: Yeah, I guess so. I can understand that. It's rather like finding a rare coin and finding that the milled edge is missing one point, that kind of thing. So I guess, the question of mono issues--Bhaskar Menon spoke to me about this, generally, when I was called in to review the things, and he pointed out that to issue mono and stereo of everything would be a little bit of a problem from a practical point of view--of stock within shops, of manufacture, and obviously, it would give everybody much less of a headache if there was just one version.

ALLAN KOZINN: I understand that. However, until you get up to "Sgt. Pepper," which runs about 39 minutes, you can actually fit both the mono and stereo mixes of each album on one CD.

GEORGE MARTIN: Are you saying we should do a double album on each one?

ALLAN KOZINN: Well, yeah, because it's the same material just sequenced over again in a variant mix. It's not like making of two-fer of, say, "Please Please Me" and "With the Beatles." Collectors would be happy to have both mixes, and EMI wouldn't have to feel it was giving anything away.

GEORGE MARTIN: It's not a bad idea. I'll put it to Bhaskar and see what he says about it. It's an idea that hasn't been presented to me before. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't happen. There may be complications, if the Beatles want to be paid double royalties -- because of that you might have a problem. Or even copyright royalties. There may be a law that says if you do two performances you have to pay twice as much, I don't really know. But I'll certainly mention it to him.

ALLAN KOZINN: Great. Well, I think that covers it for now. Thank you very much.



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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2006, 07:10:25 PM »

Quote from: raxo
Why release the first four albums on CD in mono? Well, why not ...

Why release the U.S. albums on CD? Well, why not? (with some of your(?) opinions)

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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2006, 07:18:39 PM »

Thanks Raxo, I shall read in depth a bit laters.


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2006, 07:26:03 PM »

Quote from: An_Apple_Beatle
Thanks Raxo, I shall read in depth a bit laters.

No worries, mate ... I guess it's only for very fan people ...  ;D

By the way, I'm sad hearing that about your band  :-/ ... I hope (I know) things will be great for you, anyway, ... being you as you are (thumbsup)


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2007, 03:27:41 PM »

"QUESTION: George, tell us about that first audition when the Beatles came down from Liverpool and you met with them...was that in '61 or '62?

GEORGE MARTIN: '62. In about January. I met Brian Epstein and he was tryin' to get the Beatles off the ground and get some record label together. I didn't know then that he'd actually been to every record label in the country, including EMI--my own company--but he hadn't seen the little company, Parlophone, which I ran. He'd been turned down by everybody and was a desperate man, so he tried to joke on the fact he'd been told about me 'cause I made comedy records. When the Beatles heard about it, they kind of groaned, but then they perked their ears up a bit when they had learned I'd made records of Peter Sellers. They were great fan of his. Anyways, to cut a long story short, when I heard what Brian had to offer on tape, it wasn't very good. In fact, it was awful. But I said, I really wanted to find out more about them...there was something about them that I wanted to investigate. I said, "The only way I can really check 'em is to see them. Bring them down to the studio. Bring them to London and I'll spend some time with them." So, they came down later, a couple of months later, and I spent an evening, afternoon, and evening with them in Abbey Roads Studios. I fell in love with them. I thought they were wonderful people. I mean, they showed no signs of being great song writers. The best they could offer me were pretty ordinary songs. I thought. "Love Me Do" was the best. "P.S., I Love You" was another one. "One After 909." They weren't great songs, but they had tremendous charisma. They had great sense of fun and you could tell they had star quality, you know, whether they were rock 'n' roll artists, or actors, or politicians, they would've made it. They just had that special something.

QUESTION: It was an interesting mix. Here were these rough, hewn guys from Liverpool and you running a for EMI. What was it like in the beginning? Did you get out from the very start, or was it a rather tenuous period, or were they nervous around you?

GEORGE MARTIN: Oh, we hit it off, right away. I guess to them I was a fairly important person, that and the fact that I'd actually made hit records that they loved. They were prepared to like me. They were cheeky devils. The only one who wasn't at that time, of course, was the guy who left, which was Pete Best. He was very quiet, sat in the back and didn't say much, and was replaced later on by Ringo, but he was part of the group when I originally saw them.

QUESTION: I've read that Brian didn't feel Pete fit in well and that you were the final straw that really ended it for Pete...that you thought Ringo was a better drummer, or that Pete wasn't good enough. What is the real story about how that all happened?

GEORGE MARTIN: Well, after that first test, I decided that the drums, which are really the backbone of a good rock group, didn't give the boys enough support. They needed a good solid beat and I said to Brian, "Look, it doesn't matter what you do with the boys, but on record, nobody need know. I'm gonna use a hot drummer," and I used the guy who was the best session drummer of the period. Brian said, "Okay, fine." Now it was pretty tough for him and I felt guilty because I felt maybe, I was the catalyst that had changed his life, so I'm sorry about that, Pete.

QUESTION: Is there anything you did to help spur their great song writing? We saw this massive evolution in a very few years?

GEORGE MARTIN: They were geniuses. There's no doubt about that. But, the curious thing is they weren't to begin with. I mean, they just blossomed like an orchid in a hot house. They suddenly, once they had their first success, they realized they had a way of writing songs that would appeal to the public, and I would say, "That's marvelous, that's great. Go and do another one like that, or better, or different, give me something more." And they did.

QUESTION: Tell us a little bit about "Sergeant Pepper." It stands today as probably, in many peoples' minds, the apex of the Beatles work. How did it happen that this concept album, the first of its kind, come together?

GEORGE MARTIN: Pepper wasn't really a concept album because if you look at all the songs, they don't really have a great deal of connection with each other. We made it appear whole by editing it closely and by tying it up with the idea that the band, themselves, were another band. Another alter ego if you like, that they were Pepper and that Billy Sheers was Ringo, whatever, and we were giving a performance. To heighten that effect, I used sound effects of audiences and laughter and so on, which gave the impression it was a show but in truth, the songs didn't have a great deal to do with each other. But they did have this element in common, that it was the first record that we were able to really spend time over. For the first time, we didn't have the Beatles coming into the studio, "You've got two days with them, at the most. Make the best of it, 'cause they're on tour," in Hamburg or San Francisco, or wherever. It wasn't a rush, rush, rush. It always had been up to that time and the Beatles had got very fed up with the pace of their lives. So this was the first time they were able to relax and say, "Hey, we can do what we want to do," and although life was very hard on them, suddenly, they were able to spend the time in the studios that they really wanted to spend.

QUESTION: Brian Wilson told us how proud he was that "Pet Sounds" was Paul's favorite album. What impact did a song, let's say, like "Good Vibrations," or "Pet Sounds" have?

GEORGE MARTIN: I think "Pet Sounds" was one of the most influential albums we'd heard. It was a wonderful album, and we admired everything about it. Everything that the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson did seemed to be thoughtless. You know, "Good Vibrations" was one from the combination of voices. A song like "God Only Knows" was, I think, marvelous stuff, and I know that Paul and the others admired it too. They wanted to be able to write music as good as that or better than that. It was their yardstick. It was a competitive thing. And I learned later that Brian felt that what we were doing was a competitive thing, too. So, it was jolly good.

QUESTION: Talking about other influences, was Bob Dylan an influence on the Beatles, and if so, in what way?

GEORGE MARTIN: I think Bob Dylan was an influence more on John, than anybody. I've just been working with Bob Dylan and I said, "You know, John admired what you did enormously and you were a tremendous influence on him." He said, "Oh, so people tell me." But, I think that similarly, Dylan Thomas, the Welsh author, was a great influence on Bob Dylan, and I think that the kind of words that Dylan Thomas would construct came down through Bob Dylan into John Lennon. But I'm sure John Lennon, in turn, has influenced other people.

QUESTION: Were the Beatles influenced at all by the American contemporary artists who preceded them, for example, the artists of Motown, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, The Temptations, the Phil Specter Sound, or some of the other things that were coming out of America in the early 60s?

GEORGE MARTIN: I think one of the things that motivated the boys in the very early days was the American rock 'n' roll of the '50s that they'd heard. Liverpool was a kind of place where, I guess they heard things before we did in London. Not just because it was a sea port, but because there was an American Air Force base there, and Liverpool people would meet up with American serving men who would bring in all the latest records. The Beatles became quite experts on obscure records we'd heard of, and they were mostly Motown or black rock 'n' roll, the early Coffin and King numbers. Those kind of things. The real building stuff and of course, it was very, very good stuff. You only had to listen to the first album we made together to realize how influential that was.

QUESTION: What about the turning point in 1966? The whole furor in America, the Maureen Cleve article and the Christ comment John made. What impact did that have on the group? How did it affect their lives individually, or the group as a whole?

GEORGE MARTIN: Pressure was coming from all sources. There were death threats. They were man handled in the Philippines by an unruly crowd, they were virtually booed out of the Philippines because they didn't turn up at a reception for the President's wife. But nobody else knew that George Harrison was in fear of his life 'cause he actually had some poison pen letters saying, "You'll die in the next five days," and the assassination of Kennedy wasn't so far away. It was pretty hair raising stuff. That together with the mass adulation wherever they went. They couldn't escape. That made them want to retreat and of course, they didn't have any lives of their own either. It's all very well to have this great deal of fame, but when you can't escape it and you're always with three other guys, you want to say, "Hey, wait a minute. Where's the girlfriend? Where's my children? What kind of family life is this?" It doesn't exist.

QUESTION: Do you think the Christ comment was a factor in the balance between John and Paul at all? Yoko had thought it was.

GEORGE MARTIN: I think John's remark about Jesus Christ, obviously, was a stupid thing to do. I don't think he meant it the way it was interpreted. He didn't mean to say, "Hey, we're bigger than Jesus." What he meant to say was, "Jesus, or rather Christianity, didn't seem to be as popular as the Beatles," and that was true. I mean, it's still true today. Unfortunately, not enough people go to church in this country. Christianity is at a pretty low ebb. In Ireland, where I used to have a studio, about 95 percent of the people go to church. They're very, very religious people and I think it's a good thing. I think religion, if it's approached properly, has a humanizing effect on people.

QUESTION: How do you view that last year or two, '69 and '70? Even though there was great music coming out, there was this turn in terms of the individuals.

GEORGE MARTIN: Once Brian Epstein died, things changed quite a bit and the Beatles tended to go off in their own directions. "The White Album" is a result of that. They brought me a whole host of songs, all of which they wanted to record, and that was really, what happened with "The White Album." It was a marvelous album, but it was up and down. There were some great ones, and there were some not so great ones. "Let It Be" was probably the most miserable time anybody ever had between us and the Beatles. Between the Beatles themselves. They didn't like each other very much and it was an unsatisfactory album from the point of view of collaboration. Everyone was pulling apart and no one was really organized. Some great songs, but not the best of albums and I thought it was the end. I was quite surprised when Paul rang up and said, "We'd like to come back and really produce an album," which was eventually called "Abbey Road." That was my favorite album to be honest. I think it's a great album and we knew it was the end. It was a coming together for the last time."

from here: http://www.webweaverdesign.ca/beatles/other/gmartin.html


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2007, 11:01:44 AM »

Cheers for all this Rax. I'm gradually wading my way through it!


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2007, 02:12:33 PM »

Quote from: 483
Cheers for all this Rax. I'm gradually wading my way through it!

Thanks, BlueMeanie  :) ... I used to listen to the Yellow Submarine soundtrack reading this interview at the same time:
Quote from: 297
I'm currently listening to these tracks (using earphones) and reading the interview at the same time (it's the second time I do this: listening to them and reading the interview) ... and they sound really superb,...  :o

... I mean, there are sounds I was not awared of before ... and they give to some tracks a very psychedelic atmosphere (Sir George's explanations help a little  :) ) ...

... I do recommend this experience!!!  8)

P.S. This is not my favourite album (I rank it as the 8th out of 13 -I consider Magical Mystery Tour double EP as an album: without the singles added-, right?) but I use to listen to it quite often, so I'm not discovering these tracks ... but re-discovering them ... at their best!  ;)



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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2008, 05:21:53 PM »

Spoof: George Martin kidnapped

Am I the last person here to see this?

(Youtube description) While being interviewed about the Bealtes George Martin is grabbed and forced in the back of a car at gunpoint - Comedy from Big Train.

Big Train - George Martin Kidnapped
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIA_NVFnXZ8" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIA_NVFnXZ8</a>
All you've got to do is choose love.  That's how I live it now.  I learned a long time ago, I can feed the birds in my garden.  I can't feed them all. -- Ringo Starr, Rolling Stone magazine, May 2007<br />


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2008, 07:24:43 PM »

Just finished reading. Whew!!  Great stuff.

BTW ... where is Raxo? When I joined he was Mr. PostIt. Hope he's OK, he was amazing.
I love John,
I love Paul,
And George and Ringo,
I love them all!



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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2008, 02:48:46 AM »

Thought this site might enjoy this news item. http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/martin%20apologises%20to%20replaced%20beatles%20drummer_1060687    

Comments on this from anyone? A long time in coming from one of the principals.  Any insights from Bill Harry perhaps


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2008, 08:44:38 AM »

Quote from: 902
Thought this site might enjoy this news item. http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/martin%20apologises%20to%20replaced%20beatles%20drummer_1060687    

Comments on this from anyone? A long time in coming from one of the principals.  Any insights from Bill Harry perhaps

Page not found. But I suspect you mean this: http://www.dmbeatles.com/forums/b-starr/m-1167059316/s-45/#num57


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2008, 01:22:39 PM »

Short George Martin article with a couple of interesting comments:

Just 86 the 'Fifth Beatle' stuff
Jul 15, 2008 04:30 AM
Bill Brioux



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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2008, 12:11:21 PM »

I like his comments about working with Paul:

Sir George Martin's Advice to Musicians

You have to get on with an artist
If you don


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2008, 01:04:21 PM »

Wow, another terrific article. Thanks so much, Geoff!

All you've got to do is choose love.  That's how I live it now.  I learned a long time ago, I can feed the birds in my garden.  I can't feed them all. -- Ringo Starr, Rolling Stone magazine, May 2007<br />


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Re: George Martin Interviews
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2008, 02:59:59 PM »

July 25 2008

You have to get on with an artist
If you don
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