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MYSTERY OF £20,000 ELEANOR RIGBY SCORE PULLED FROM AUCTION OF BEATLES MEMORABILIA

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It was a sentimental gift, bought at a charity auction with the blessing of The Beatles and legendary producer Sir George Martin.But now a highly sought after piece of Beatles memorabilia–an original Eleanor Rigby score penned by Sir George— has emerged as the subject of an extraordinary dispute involving relatives of the man he gifted it to. Colin Sanders, a world renowned musical entrepreneur and founder of the mixing console manufacturer Solid State Logic (SSL), is understood to have won the score from the band several years after the song’s release.

Now, however, the much cherished heirloom has become centre of a bizarre whodunit involving his widow, Dr Rosemary Sanders, and their adopted daughter, Terri-Louise. The controversy arose after the rare manuscript, signed by Sir George and Sir Paul McCartney, turned up for sale at an obscure Warrington-based auction house.

After learning of its disappearance, Dr Sanders contacted Omega Auctions, a specialist in music memorabilia, and claimed ownership.  The auction house was forced to pull the lot hours before it was due to go on auction.

The score is only of only two known to have been written by Sir George; the original was left to his daughter, Alexis Stratfold, when he died last year. It was until Monday advertised alongside a collection of rare Beatles memorabilia, and had been valued at £20,000. Dr Sanders has also alerted Thames Valley Police, which is now attempting to determine the manuscript’s true ownership and how it came to be consigned for sale.

When approached by The Daily Telegraph for comment, Dr Sanders said that the score had been won by her late husband at a charity auction and had been passed to her after his death in 1998 in a helicopter accident. “My late husband won it at a charity auction,” she said. “He knew Sir George well, they used to move in the same circles. They [The Beatles] would come to parties occasionally. “He went to Abbey Road as well, and of course some of the studio was fitted out by SSL.” A spokeswoman for Omega Auction confirmed that the score was no longer for sale. “Having been contacted by his widow, Dr Rosie Sanders, it is understood that she is the rightful owner of the score and has no wishes to part with it”. She revealed that the score had been consigned for sale by someone claiming to be Colin Sanders’ daughter Terri-Louise, adding that the auction house had understood that ‘Terri-Louise’ had inherited it from her father and was therefore entitled to sell it.

However when approached by The Daily Telegraph last night Ms Sanders denied any knowledge of the incident, saying she had never approached the auction house about any potential sale.
It is understood that Dr Sanders reported the incident to Thames Valley Police.  She declined to comment further, but said that the ordeal had been “distressing” for the family.’
A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said: “On 8 Sept we were called by a resident of Souldern near Bicester regarding  a dispute over of piece of music memorabilia. We are currently investigating this matter.”


GEORGE MARTIN’S SECRETS REVEALED IN NEW BIOGRAPHY

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George Martin met the band at a time that he was caught between two worlds – and his own upbringing, only now being revealed, influenced his relationship with the group, the book says. He was integral to the Fab Four’s success and they might well have never been the best-selling band in history (with more than 800 million records shifted) had it not been for his musical genius and business skill, according to Maximum Volume, by established Beatles author Kenneth Womack.

So was Martin “the fifth Beatle,” as is often described? Womack replies in an interview: “I think at times he was the third or fourth Beatle – and I don’t mean that as any kind of negative critique of anyone else’s contribution.” Martin died last year at the age of 90.

At the time that he met the stars-to-be in 1962, Martin was deep into conducting a four-year affair in London with his assistant, Judy. His first wife Sheena lived out of town and knew nothing about his secret life. Martin was also trying to conceal his own poor childhood background and this also partly explains why he resisted the Beatles for months before embracing them, the author says in an interview: “For about half a year, he was trying not to be involved in their story – he then intended to record six record sides and then be done with them.”

The author says he was “very surprised about the degree of George’s childhood poverty – he describes a family that had no electricity or running water and had one gas jet.” After school, Martin became a lowly office clerk and scratch pianist; then in World War II, he joined the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and modelled himself on the officers, changing his accent to a more ‘upper class’ sound.

Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin ..  AVAILABLE HERE.

When he returned home, his family was “having so much difficulty in making ends meet – and this is the first time I know that this has been written – that George’s mother was taking in numerous orphans so that she could earn money from the state,” says Womack, whose sources include George’s eldest son, Gregory Paul Martin. The ex-navy man started studying classical music and got married to Sheena. “He had told her he had come from very humble upbringings but she had no idea how humble.” He broke with his parents as he reinvented himself and started climbing the social ladder.

Womack relates this back to Martin’s initial hesitancy about the Beatles. While he wasn’t sure about some of their songs, shaggy hair, Liverpool accents, the name, their beat-up gear, abilities, studio professionalism, or their first drummer Pete Best, there was something else that bothered him: “These guys were self-described ‘rednecks,’ as Ringo said. Why would George want to align himself with the sort of guys he had been trying to get away from for so long?”

Martin tried them with a cover version of “How Do You Do It,” later a hit for Gerry & The Pacemakers. They hated it. He could see a little potential in “Love Me Do,” “P.S. I Love You” and “Ask Me Why.”

A breakthrough came they offered him a brand new song – a Roy Orbison style slow number called “Please Please Me.” Martin suggested that they radically speed up the ballad. They did, and something clicked. The rest is history: “Gentleman, you have just made your first Number One,” Martin rightly predicted to them. It was the start of a groundbreaking relationship that would change the course of pop.

Womack adds:“When he had thrown his lot in with them, they became a true partnership and there was really no stopping him. He was innovative, sometimes more so than they were.” “George was seen as a squarish fuddy-duddy, even the Beatles saw him that way, but he was as hip as everybody else. Like he had a double life, he was cannier than you might think. When they first debuted ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to him, he didn’t say, ‘Oh my God’ or run for the hills. George said ‘very interesting’ and went away and thought about it and helped create the palette to bring the ideas to fruition.”

Martin’s career has various lessons for other music executives:

(1) Invest in the future. In 2017, many record companies are looking for ready-made sure-fire talent with an audience. “George was prepared to take the time and develop them step by step – it doesn’t happen much these days,” Womack says.

(2) Be driven by what you enjoy, then it doesn’t seem like work. “George was driven by his music. He was always curious. This kept him from wanting to buy speedboats and live on the Riviera.” While he later purchased a country estate with Judy, his second wife, he was generally happy with just “the trappings of having financial security.”

(3) Take a risk. After a dozen years on a middling salary at Parlophone, Martin had differences with EMI and went into business on his own with just one blue-chip client – The Beatles. He had pride, emotion and financial survival at stake, perhaps more than the musicians themselves. He went on to build Air Studios and Apple Studios. The gamble paid off.

(4) Take time to look for talent. Martin saved the ailing Parlophone company not just by comedy records but by becoming an innovative A&R leader, seeking new artists. He later even visited New York’s Brill Building seeking more hit songs for other musicians he was working with.

(5) Have faith in yourself. In the 1960s, the industry wisdom was that pop was disposable and bands were fleeting fads. The Beatles were rejected by Decca which thought guitar groups were over. Martin gave his all to make music that would endure. “It worked. Songs like ‘Norwegian Wood,’ ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ sound fresh and crisp today,” says the biographer. Even in the mid-1960s, doom-mongers predicted that the group was finished as it stopped touring and The Beach Boys challenged them with singles such as “Good Vibrations.”

“George and the Beatles stepped up to the challenge with ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Penny Lane’ and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Brian Wilson said ‘my God, they beat me to it.’”

Womack is well qualified to write this book, being the author of The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles and The Beatles Encyclopedia. While the sometimes stiff-upper-lip Martin kept much to himself in his life rigidly compartmentalized between personal and professional matters, Womack’s meticulous research results in a detailed analysis. The opening account of Martin’s first recording session with The Beatles on Wednesday, June 6, 1962 is spread out over many pages. We hear about the A&R man’s schedule of meetings on that day, his lunch and who he meets. Finally we get to the evening. Martin was in the Abbey Road canteen, not paying any attention to the music, and was called in because the Liverpudlians were causing a stir in the studio next door. What happened next is well known but exhaustively told here. After the performance, Martin spent 20 minutes criticizing every aspect of the playing to a silent response. He asked them if there was anything they did not like too, and George Harrison responded with, “well, for a start, I don’t like your tie.” The deadpan retort broke the ice. Martin liked their wit and charisma.

As the book notes: “During that one instant, Harrison had very possibly saved the Beatles from the EMI dustbin. Martin was quite sure that he didn’t like the group’s musicianship or their original material, but after years of toil at Parlophone Records, he knew comedy, and these guys, if nothing else, were funny. Even in the darkest of moments, when the chips were down, they knew how to laugh at themselves, as Harrison had so clearly revealed. And Martin could work with that.”

Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin is published by Chicago Review Press. It is subtitled The Early Years, 1926-1966 and is the first volume of the first full-length biography of Martin and takes the story up to Rubber Soul and his 40th birthday in 1966…  AVAILABLE HERE.

 


A SCORE FOR THE 1966 ELEANOR RIGBY FOR SALE

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Omega Auction’s forthcoming sale of the framed score, which is in Martin’s handwriting and is signed by Sir Paul McCartney, was initially billed by Warrington-based Omega Auctions as ‘the original’ version of the music sheet. The lot description has now been amended to ‘an original … one of only two known originals’ after a complaint by one of Martin’s four children that she possessed the original score.

Martin’s daughter Alexis Stratford read media coverage of the impending sale and instructed a lawyer to contact Omega Auctions to say she possessed the original, having been given it by her father 30 years ago.“[My father] knew it was of great historical value and even pointed out the coffee stains from John Lennon,” Stratford told.

‘Two known originals’

Omega Auctions stands by the authenticity of its lot. Karen Fairweather, director of Omega Auctions, told ATG: “We have had no row [with George Martin’s daughter]. Her score is an original and ours is an original, end of story. Our catalogue description states that the score we are selling is one of two known original scores. Fairweather added: “It’s a fantastic, historical piece and we are looking forward to selling it.”

The scores were prepared for the song’s recording, which included a string octet conducted by Martin, at Abbey Road studios in April 1966. The version owned by Stratford is an eight-page manuscript in pencil, whereas that being sold by Omega Auctions is four pages long, also containing musical notation for the string instrument parts and lyrics. Omega Auctions says the score consigned to its Warrington saleroom was one “most likely written out for the instrumentalists”.

George Martin provenance

According to the catalogue entry on thesaleroom.com, the score “was gifted to a gentleman who was well known in the music industry and was both a friend and business associate of George Martin. The signatures of George Martin and Paul McCartney are believed to have been added at a later date (circa late 1980s), most likely shortly before this was framed and gifted”. Stratford’s score, also mounted in a frame, is said to be worth £75,000 but is not for sale. The Omega Auctions lot, numbered 250 among other lots of Beatles memorabilia, also includes the deeds to the Liverpool grave of the real Eleanor Rigby, the song’s inspiration.

Ahead of the live auction on September 11-12, the most recent bid for the Omega Auctions lot on thesaleroom.com was £12,000 against an estimate of £15,000-25,000.


‘MAXIMUM VOLUME’ BY KENNETH WOMACK EXPLORES JUST HOW MUCH GEORGE MARTIN CHANGED THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

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It’s doubtful any record producer in music history had a better year than George Martin did in 1963. His Beatles dominated the charts, boasting a No. 1 song for 37 out of the 52 weeks. Yet when December rolled around and his bosses at EMI Records handed out Christmas bonuses, Martin got nothing. They deemed his salary (roughly the U.S. equivalent of $4,000 per year) already was high enough.
“It was just a God-awful corporate miscalculation,” said Monmouth University dean Kenneth Womack, a leading scholarly authority on the Fab Four. “But of course this is what the Beatles were blowing up — they were disrupting an industry.”

Womack chronicles Martin’s central role in that disruption in his latest book, “Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin.” Remarkably it’s the first biography of Martin, who perhaps scared off would-be writers by publishing multiple autobiographies. The 351-page book is set to drop Sept. 1 by Chicago Review Press. It covers Martin’s life through 1966; a second volume is in the works.

“George Martin was the first audience for The Beatles,” said Womack, who is dean of Monmouth’s Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences. “To me, that’s so fascinating. He was the first person beyond Lennon and McCartney who would hear all these great songs debut. I wanted to tell the story of what that experience must have been like.” Using his own interviews (including input from Martin’s eldest son Gregory) and secondary source material, Womack goes deep on the producer’s contributions to the Beatles’ music and image. There is Martin, forcing them to speed up “Please Please Me” before pronouncing, “Gentlemen, you have just made your first No. 1 record.” And there he is later, keeping the train on the tracks after the master recording of Rubber Soul was dropped at the record plant and shattered into a million pieces.

He was an odd fit to marshal this quartet of young iconoclasts — a Royal Navy veteran trained in classical music who made his bones as a producer of comedy records. But Martin made it work and changed music in the process: He let the Beatles write their own songs, he played some backup instruments and he helped them navigate life on the road. All of it broke the mold. “At that time artists and producers had very particular roles and they were supposed to carry them out,” Womack said. “This was a paradigm-shifting moment.”

Womack will be signing copies of “Maximum Volume” Friday at the Eatontown Barnes & Noble from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday at the Lakewood BlueClaws game (starting at 5 p.m.). “Maximum Volume” also is available via Amazon.com … H E R E .


GILES MARTIN:”MY FATHER ALWAYS TOLD ME THAT THE SOUNDS THAT JOHN HAD IN HIS HEAD WERE NEVER THE SOUNDS THAT GOT ON RECORD”

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Asked by “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross why it is that John Lennon has been said not to have cared for the sound of his own voice, Giles Martin, son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin, responded to the public-radio interviewer that the issue ran deeper than that:
‘Well, I don’t think it was just his voice. He didn’t like, you know, my father always told me that the sounds that John had in his head were never the sounds that got on record.That’s the thing is, you know – and to demand them to make changes. You know, he was just a natural, beautiful singer.

Giles Martin oversaw, including production and remixing, a 50th-anniversary four-disc “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” box set, released last month.
About the original “Strawberry Fields” Giles said: “Of course, they had to slow it down. And that gives you a more sort of a demonic edge, you know, your slowed down voice. And so what you hear is John slowed down. In fact, on this album, there’s very few occurrences of a natural voice.
They played around with tempos, you know, on “When I’m Sixty-Four,” Paul’s voice is sped up, you know, and same with “Lovely Rita,” you know, they – “Penny Lane” his voice is sped up. And on “Strawberry Fields,” John’s is slowed down.

It’s – they’re all over the shop just trying to change things. But you’re right, on the demo or on the first take of “Strawberry Fields,” you hear the song for what it is which is an incredibly complex but beautiful personal sort of diary to his time in Liverpool.
Giles has worked on several other recent Beatles projects, including the Beatles soundscape for the Cirque du Soleil production “Love,” the audio restoration of Beatles concerts for Ron Howard’s documentary “Eight Days A Week,” and the Beatles “Rock Band” video game. Giles was the executive producer of Paul McCartney’s 2013 album “New.”