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London’s AIR Studios, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious recording facilities, has been put up for sale by its owners. Initially founded by The Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin in 1969, the studio has been used by some of the biggest names in music with Paul McCartney, Adele, Coldplay, U2, Muse, George Michael, Kate Bush, Liam Gallagher, David Gilmour, Mumford & Sons, Scott Walker, The Jam and Katy Perry among the many artists to have recorded there.

The facility’s cavernous hexagonal shaped 300m squared live room big enough to house a full symphony orchestra and choir simultaneously — has also made AIR an in-demand booking for film composers and Hollywood studios. Film scores for Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Wonder Woman, Justice League and Alien Covenant are among recent projects recorded at the state-of-the-art studio, based at Lyndhurst Hall, a Grade II listed converted church in Hampstead, North London, since 1991.

Prior to that, AIR — which stands for Associated Independent Recording — was located in central London. A sister studio in the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat was opened by George Martin in 1979. It would go on to play host to some of the biggest-selling acts of the 1980s with Dire Straits, The Police, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton all cutting hit records at the facility. AIR Studios Montserrat was forced to close after much of the island was destroyed by a hurricane in 1989.

“The sale of AIR Studios is a significant moment in the history of the music industry,” announced co-owner Richard Boote, who acquired the London facility from Chrysalis Group and Pioneer in 2006. “Some of the most legendary soundtracks and records of the 20th and 21st century have been recorded at AIR and we know that there is still scope to expand and grow the business further,” said Boote in a statement.

As for who buys AIR, which includes an enviable collection of state-of-the-art and vintage equipment (including one of the world’s largest Neve 88R consoles), collectively said to be worth around £3 million ($4 million), co-owner Paul Woolf says they want someone who appreciates the heritage of the building and will carry on its legacy.

“It’s a very family cultured place,” he told Billboard. “We’re not corporate in how we run it and we’re very conscious of finding someone who buys into that and supports the staff. We’ve got probably the best tech team in the U.K., so we want them looked after and we want [the buyer] to take AIR onto the next step. To look at opportunities to develop and grow the place and treasure its history and heritage.”

In October 2017, the studio won a two-year legal battle to stop a neighbour from building a basement cinema, sauna, hot tub and swimming pool. AIR’s owners had feared that the noise and vibrations from the construction work would force the complex to close down. George Michael and Queen’s Brian May were among the signatories of an open letter opposing the plans, while more 13,000 people signed a petition in support of the historic studio.

Paul Woolf cites the “unbelievable” industry-wide response as one of his most abiding memories from his time at AIR. “That outpouring of support and love was so enormous it made me realize that I was involved in something very special,” he nostalgically reflects. “I honestly don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It will live with me for a long time.”


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Maximum Volume offers a glimpse into the mind, the music, and the man behind the sound of the Beatles. George Martin’s working-class childhood and musical influences
profoundly shaped his early career in the BBC’s Classical Music department and as head of the EMI Group’s Parlophone Records. Out of them flowed the genius behind his seven years producing the Beatles’ incredible body of work, including such albums as Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road.

The first book of two, Maximum Volume traces Martin’s early years as a scratch pianist, his life in the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War, and his groundbreaking work as the head of Parlophone Records, when Martin saved the company from ruin after making his name as a producer of comedy recordings. In its most dramatic moments, Maximum Volume narrates the story of Martin’s unlikely discovery of the Beatles and his painstaking efforts to prepare their newfangled sound for the British music marketplace. As the story unfolds, Martin and the band craft numerous number-one hits, progressing toward the landmark album Rubber Soul—all of which bear Martin’s unmistakable musical signature.


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“The Film Scores and Original Orchestral Music of George Martin” coming out November 10.

Double vinyl out in January.


Disc: 1

  1. Pepperland
  2. March of the Meanies
  3. Sea of Holes
  4. Sea of Monsters
  5. Pepperland Reprise
  6. Whisper Who Dares
  7. Bond Meets Solitaire
  8. Snakes Alive
  9. Baron Samedi’s Dance of Death
  10. Westward Look!
  11. Old Boston
  12. New York, New York
  13. Judy’s Theme
  14. Under Milk Wood (Main Theme)
  15. Love Duet
  16. Waldo’s Song
  17. Belle Étoile
  18. Waltz in D Minor for Flute and Chamber Orchestra
  19. Prelude for Strings
  20. Prelude
  21. Chorale 1
  22. Chorale 2
  23. Orchestral Interlude
  24. Chorale 3
  25. Chorale 4
  26. Orchestral Interlude 2
  27. Chorale 5
  28. Chorale 6
  29. Chorale 7




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The orchestral works of George Martin will be released on a new album, George Martin: The Film Scores and Original Orchestral Compositions, November 10th via Atlas Realisations/Pias Classics. A limited edition double vinyl LP will be available in January 2018.

Conductor Craig Leon and the Berlin Music Ensemble recorded the album at the Meistersaal in Emil Berliner Studios in Berlin. The LP will feature the music Martin penned for films like Yellow Submarine and Live and Let Die, as well as his previously unrecorded choral and orchestral score for The Mission. It will also include new versions of the overture Martin wrote for a 1988 album version of the famous British radio drama Under Milk Wood, as well as his Three American Sketches suite for violin and chamber orchestra and other previously unreleased original compositions.

A short documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album, including footage of Leon conducting the Berlin Music Ensemble through Martin’s Live and Let Die score and “The Pepperland Suite” from Yellow Submarine. Leon said he decided to put together the George Martin project after finding the producer’s original composition manuscripts.

“When I was going through it, I was just struck by the elegance of the composition and how much they fit the era that I grew up in music, and again made me think how much I wouldn’t have even had the life I had if George Martin hadn’t done what he did,” Leon said. “He bridged the gap between an interpretive producer and a creative producer, which was the thing that I wanted to do.” (Like Martin, Leon has worked in both classical and rock, producing records for the Ramones, Blondie, Suicide and more).

Martin, who produced much of the Beatles’ catalog, died in 2016 at the age of 90.


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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.”


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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.