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It will tell the story of the studio where Elton John, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones and many others recorded
The documentary Under The Volcano is set to tell the story of Sir George Martin’s famous AIR Studios on Montserrat.

Directed by Gracie Otto (The Last Impresario) and produced by Cody Greenwood, the film will chart the rise and fall of the studio built by George Martin in 1979. Elton John, Duran Duran, and many other famous acts of the era recorded at the studio during its heyday.

The tiny studio in the British overseas territory in the eastern Caribbean was where a string of iconic hits were recorded in the ’80s. It also formed the backdrop to several major events in music history including the break-up of The Police, the reunion of The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney‘s comeback after the murder of John Lennon.
Under The Volcano features interviews with The Police, Mark Knopfler, Nick Rhodes, Midge Ure and more, and will be released via digital, DVD and Blu-ray on July 26.

Built in the shadow of an active volcano, the studio was also the birthplace of huge hits such as ‘Money For Nothing’ and ‘Every Breath You Take’.

After a decade of hits, and at the peak of its popularity, the studio was destroyed when the island was hit by a series of devastating natural disasters.



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George Henry Martin, CBE (3 January 1926 – 8 March 2016) was an English record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer, and musician. He was referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” in reference to his extensive involvement on each of the Beatles’ original albums.Paul McCartney said upon Martin’s death, “If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle, it was George”.

Martin was born January 3, 1926, in Highbury, London. When Martin was six, his family acquired a piano that sparked his interest in music. At eight years of age, Martin persuaded his parents, Henry and Betha Beatrice (nėe Simpson) Martin,that he should take piano lessons, but those ended after only eight lessons because of a disagreement between his mother and the teacher.

Following his graduation, he worked for the BBC’s classical music department, then joined EMI in 1950 as an assistant to Oscar Preuss, the head of EMI’s Parlophone Records from 1950 to 1955. Although having been regarded by EMI as a vital German imprint in the past, it was then not taken seriously and only used for EMI’s insignificant acts. After taking over Parlophone, as head of artists and repertoire, when Preuss retired in 1955, Martin recorded classical and Baroque music, original cast recordings, and regional music from around Britain and Ireland.

Martin also produced numerous comedy and novelty records. Martin’s career spanned more than six decades of work in music, film, television and live performance. Before working with the Beatles and other pop musicians, he produced comedy and novelty records in the early 1950s, working with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Bernard Cribbins, among others. In his career he produced 30 number-one hit singles in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States.

Martin was contacted by Sid Coleman of Ardmore & Beechwood, who told him about Brian Epstein, the manager of a band whom he had met. He thought Martin might be interested in the group, even though they had been turned down by Decca Records. Until that time, although he had had considerable success with the comedy records, and a number 1 hit with the Temperance Seven, Martin had only minor success with pop music, such as “Who Could Be Bluer” by Jerry Lordan, and singles with Shane Fenton and Matt Monro. After the telephone call by Coleman, Martin arranged a meeting on 13 February 1962 with Brian Epstein. Martin listened to a tape recorded at Decca, and liked the sound of Lennon’s and McCartney’s vocals.

Martin’s work as an arranger was used for many Beatles recordings.

He contributed integral parts to other Beatle  songs ,he produced recordings for many other artists, including contemporaries of the Beatles and also held a number of senior executive roles at media companies and contributed to a wide range of charitable causes, including his work for The Prince’s Trust and the Caribbean island of Montserrat.

In recognition of his services to the music industry and popular culture, he was made a Knight Bachelor in 1996.

George Martin died in his sleep on the night of 8 March 2016 at his home in Wiltshire, England, at the age of 90.

His death was announced by Ringo Starr on his Twitter account.

A spokesperson for the Universal Music Group confirmed his death.The cause of his death was not disclosed. He is survived by his wife of nearly fifty years, Judy Lockhart Smith, and his four children.




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Beatles Magazine asked Bob Wilson to speak with author Kenneth Womack regarding his new book, Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Later Years: 1966-2016).  George Martin was an essential part of the recording process of almost the entire Beatles studio catalog. Womack’s work provides fresh insight and a deeper understanding on the man who may have the most justifiable claim to the title, ‘The 5th Beatle’.

Beatles Magazine: What is Martin’s strongest legacy today?

Kenneth Womack: I am endlessly intrigued by the ways in which the Beatles progressed so far in such a relatively short time—seven years, from start to finish, working with George Martin as their producer. It’s a remarkable run, by any measure. It is difficult to find a similar trajectory in any other arena in the arts. There is also the larger issue of the ways in which Martin and the Beatles disrupted an entire industry. It’s amazing to be able to trace the ways in which, bit by bit, they rewrote pop music and how it was marketed and sold. Sir George’s legacy will always be the breadth and quality of the Beatles’ recordings, which he slaved over in terms of ensuring that they would stand the test of time.

As we have seen in recent years, his youngest son Giles is continuing his legacy through his careful attention to preserving the Beatles’ recordings and presenting them in the finest possible form.

BM: Where did the book title–Sound Pictures– evolve from?

KW: For George, the recording studio was a magical workshop where its practitioners could use technology to create impressionistic pictures in the listener’s mind. For him, these recordings were evocative sound pictures that would arouse the senses. To George, the great challenge of the recording studio was to make those images as vivid as possible.

BM: What was it about Martin and his work that made you decide to write his biography?

KW: I wanted to write about George Martin because he held one of the most privileged places in the Beatles’ story. He was often the inaugural audience for the amazing Lennon and McCartney songs as they first came into the world. So I wanted to write about how he conducted himself from this remarkable vantage point. I was surprised that another full-length study had not been previously attempted. He has authored three autobiographical works, but by definition, those are rarely exhaustive studies. With literally thousands of books in print about the Beatles, it is difficult to imagine how he has been overlooked, given his central place in their achievement.

Perhaps most importantly, Martin was essential to the making and development of the Beatles as artists. Without him, they simply don’t happen in the same way—and likely not at all.

BM: What was Martin’s relationship like with Lennon, and how did this change over the years?

KW: Martin’s relationship with Lennon was easily the most complex. He was the most challenging member of the band, daring Martin, time after time, to imagine new and better ways of production in order to accede to Lennon’s imagination. During the 1970s, as Lennon struggled to find his post-Beatles identity, he pushed back on Martin’s role in the creation of their work. Lennon later apologized for his remarks, which he attributed to drug and alcohol abuse during that period. But even in their last meeting in December 1979, Lennon confounded Martin by openly dreaming of re-recording their great works with the Beatles, which he felt were still inferior to his original vision for his compositions.

Martin’s relationship with Harrison was nearly as interesting. Throughout their Beatles career together, Martin saw Harrison, like Lennon and McCartney did, as the junior member of their creative unit. Harrison’s budding songwriting during the latter Beatles years surprised Martin, particularly during the production of Abbey Road. In the post-Beatles years, Martin made a point of making peace with Harrison for having marginalized him in favor of Lennon and McCartney.

BM: How did George’s venture of opening AIR Studios come to be?
KW:  Martin began trying his hand at studio ownership at a propitious time in the history of the recording industry: a moment when studio time was increasingly difficult to book. AIR Oxford Street developed in this fashion, and to a great extent, AIR Montserrat was the purest distillation of his vision for an all-purpose getaway for artists attempting to immerse themselves in their craft.
BM: Martin was the consummate professional and gentleman. What stands out to you as a moment in his career with ‘the boys’ that demonstrates this?

KW: Martin was a superb tactician who knew how to assert himself or, conversely, to retreat based upon the given circumstances of a particular moment. During the early to mid-period Beatles, he often took the lead, assisting them in growing their talent by pushing them to greater and greater heights. In later years, as circumstances shifted, he would occasionally withdraw so as to afford them with the necessary space to grow and change as recording artists.

BM: The book focuses on the final years of the Beatles as a cohesive unit before they split up. Was Martin still as much of the ‘fifth Beatle’ during this time?

KW: There were clearly times when Martin’s role with the Beatles ebbed and flowed during their later years. While they were clearly less reliant upon him during this period, he nevertheless made himself conspicuously available to meet their needs. The fact that they explicitly asked him to return to the producer’s chair for the Abbey Road LP is great testimony to his significance in their political calculus.
BM: When did George first notice the tell-tale signs of cracks beginning to show in the band?

KW: Martin had long been cognizant of the interpersonal challenges in the group, especially as the stakes of authorship and stardom created even greater pressures and tensions among the band-mates. But Martin was also well aware that their hold upon the world could very quickly wane if they failed to deliver new and greater music, so he persisted in pushing them ever forward in spite of the mounting internal and external challenges to their longevity.
BM: What made George take a step back for the White Album recording sessions?

KW: The band-mates had been on high alert since the autumn of 1967, a period in which Time Magazine had heralded Martin as the genius behind their accomplishments. For this reason, George was especially careful not to upset the delicate chemistry of the group. For much of 1968, he afforded them with a wide berth, a strategic calculation that was difficult in the short run, especially when they froze him out of some aspects of their work during this period. But in the long run, this worked to his advantage when they asked for him to return for Abbey Road.
BM: What was the trademark of a George Martin production?

KW: The hallmark of a George Martin production finds its origins in his invisibility. You can’t generally hear “George Martin” in a Beatles track. While some producers—take Phil Spector of Jeff Lynne, for example—leave a clear and recognizable imprint on their work, Martin rarely if ever did. Rather than looking for ways to create his own signature as producer, he would take the latest composition as far as it would go as a musical fusion. In short, it was the musical artifact that truly mattered—the artist’s vision, not the producer’s—and Martin was determined to get the most out of each and every track that he produced.

Womack is also the author of three award-winning novels, including John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel (2010), The Restaurant at the End of the World (2012), and Playing the Angel (2013). He is Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University, where he also serves as Professor of English.

Look for Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin @


UK:  H E R E .


Words by Bob Wilson


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When Giles Martin, head of sound experience at Sonos Inc. and son of late legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin, first expressed interest in a music career, his father tried to dissuade him, worried about the comparisons that would inevitably ensue. “My dad talked to me about it when I was 14, so I had already made the decision to defy him quite early on,” Giles tells Yahoo Entertainment. “He did discourage me!” But when the elder Martin, a man who’d based his entire career on his “golden ears,” started going deaf after years of long recording sessions, he turned to his teenage son for help in the studio.

“And so,” Giles recalls, “I became ‘his ears’ when I was quite young.”

Says Giles, “He needed to hide it from people, because he realized people wouldn’t want to work with him if he was deaf.” Giles remembers a moment when his father was producing British new wave band Ultravox’s landmark 1982 album Quartet, back when George’s hearing loss was still largely an industry secret. “He came out of his studio, and I asked him, ‘How is it going in there?’ He held up a plate and answered, ‘Two boiled eggs.’ He thought I’d said, ‘What did you have for lunch?’ If you lose your hearing, it is very tough.”

Once the two Martins began recording together, they formed a symbiotic studio relationship that Giles, who’d grown up mostly unaware of the Beatles’ legacy, describes as “hard to know where it begins and where it ends. He would say, ‘Are the violins in tune? Are those cymbals too loud?’ High-end stuff. Gradually, I learned you really have to focus on what the other person is trying to hear. … That’s probably why I can hear in frequencies now, why I can tell what 10 kilohertz is or 400 hertz is, because I was very aware of that. We would sit at the piano, and he would tell me what he couldn’t hear. I had to listen to what he couldn’t hear. That’s how I got into it.

“He was an amazing person to learn off. It was basically through his loss that I gained, in a terrible way, but he gained as well — because it meant he could carry on working.”

George, who passed away in 2016 at age 90, first noticed his inability to hear certain high-frequency sounds in the mid-’70s, and he was almost entirely deaf by the time he retired in 1998. But his son says that George never lost his sense of humor. “One time, I went to pick him up in his apartment. He used to have breakfast in bed. We were recording an orchestra. I said, ‘Dad, we are recording in 45 minutes.’ He was lying in bed, and he went, ‘You know, sometimes, Giles, you get to my age, and you say to yourself, f*** ’em!’” Giles laughs. “So I went on my way to the studio to set up the line, and I went to the studios and I recorded them. The trust grew [between us], if that makes sense.”

Giles went on to keep his father and the Fab Four’s legacy going strong, working on Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles-themed Las Vegas show Love, Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison documentary Living in the Material World, Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, the Beatles’ Rock Band video game, Paul McCartney’s New album, and last year’s 50th anniversary reissue of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

“That was quite emotional,” Giles says of that latter epic project, “because I started doing that and I remember [my father] died. I went back into the studio, started looking at Sgt. Pepper [archives], and his was the first voice I heard. That was kind of strange.” (Regarding plans for similar deluxe reissues of two other Beatles LPs about to celebrate 50th birthdays, The White Album and Abbey Road, Giles says, “I can’t really comment on any of those two things. But I’m certainly keeping me in work.”)Giles has also recently worked with George Ezra, with James Bay, and on the British action franchise Kingsman and the upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman. But his job at the speaker company Sonos, which went public this week, recently offered him a most unusual opportunity: creating an official new opening and closing bell for the Nasdaq stock exchange, a first in the bell’s 18-year history.

Teaming with Oscar-winning film sound engineer Chris Jenkins (who recently joined Sonos’s industry panel and worked on Eight Days a Week), Giles says he “thought it would be fun to make a bell sound by not using any bells. … It’s quite a good laugh, doing it.” Inspired partly by his father’s studio creativity (“My dad used to tell me that he’d worked on making a sort of a gong sound just by using a grand piano”), Giles says they “used about a hundred developments in the recording,” experimenting with Tibetan bowls and mallets, screwdrivers, coins, “glass sounds,” and even banging Giles’s house keys against a metal angle-posed lamp. “We wandered around our homes looking at things that we could hit that would make the sound of a bell,” Giles says, chuckling. “You go mad, looking at objects you can hit.”

But in the end, he and his Sonos team came up with “a Nasdaq bell sound that wasn’t going to be a gimmick, that they would use and like. … I never thought Nasdaq would be open to new ideas, but they went for it.”

Despite all this, and his background of being the surrogate ears of one of the greatest producers of all time, Giles remains humble, shrugging, “I just feel lucky to get the work, really quite honestly. I never take it for granted.” He confesses that he’s not very proud of some his earlier production work (“I wrote with a fantastic band when I was about 23 called Monorail, who you would never have heard of, and I think I did a really bad job on that record; I was too inexperienced and weak with them, and they deserved better, in all honesty”) and that he’s been “really privileged.”“I’ve never felt, and I still don’t feel, that I can justify my position,” Giles says. “Whatever the cynicism that one may have about being the son of someone famous — if you have drive, that’s what keeps you going — my own criticism of myself would be stronger than that.”

But Giles, who says, “My dad’s always with me,” recalls that George was never cynical about his son’s career path, once they finally started working together. And George was apparently just as humble as his son. Giles remembers one special conversation they had toward the end of his father’s life. “He was very sick. I said to him, ‘Dad, do you ever think, God, I can’t do this?’ He goes, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Well, some of the artists around think I’m not good enough.’ He goes, ‘That’s ridiculous. I think you’re better than I was. I didn’t even know I was brilliant!’ And I said, ‘God, you are so lucky to think that.’”



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A new book about Beatles producer George Martin explores the tensions surrounding the recording of the band’s classic track “Hey Jude,” which took place 50 years ago this month. Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin — The Later Years, 1966-2016 is Kenneth Womack’s second title about Martin; it will be published on Sept. 4.

In an excerpt provided to Variety, Womack detailed the events of late July and early August 1968. Martin recalled, “I thought that we had made [“Hey Jude”] too long. It was very much a Paul [McCartney] song, and I couldn’t understand what he was on about by just going round and round the same thing.”
He remained concerned about the track running to seven minutes and 11 seconds. “In fact,” Martin remembered, “after I timed it, I actually said ‘You can’t make a single that long,’ I was shouted down by the boys – not for the first time in my life – and John [Lennon] asked, ‘Why not?’ I couldn’t think of a good answer, really, except the pathetic one that disc jockeys wouldn’t play it.”
Lennon countered, “They will if it’s us.”
George Harrison remembered McCartney’s rejection of the suggestion that a guitar part should mimic the vocal melody, and noted it wasn’t a new situation. “Personally, I’d found that for the last couple of albums, the freedom to be able to play as a musician was being curtailed – mainly by Paul,” Harrison said later. “Paul had fixed an idea in his brain as to how to record one of his songs. He wasn’t open to anybody else’s suggestions.”

“Hey Jude” went on to sell over two million copies in its first month of release, holding the Billboard No. 1 position for nine weeks, making it not only the Beatles’ longest-topping single, but the longest-playing single to reach the top.




USA … H E R E.

UK …. H E R E.


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The ruins of George Martin’s Montserrat recording studio now crumble within the shadow of a volatile active volcano that’s been wreaking havoc on the island since the 1990s.

Dried mud and ash cake the buildings and murky rainwater fills the outdoor swimming pool. Wasp nests plug various nooks and hang from the ceiling as tangles of vegetation climb the walls. Forgotten bits of the recording equipment that used to produce so many albums rot inside.
The complex was once a hot spot for the musical greats of the 1980s. George Martin, the famous English record producer and musician and “fifth Beatle,” opened AIR Montserrat on the Caribbean island in 1979. It was a branch of Associated Independent Recording (AIR), the recording company he co-founded.






Martin’s island oasis studio was soon one of the most prolific recording studios of its era, cranking out a total of 76 albums. Musical legends like the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Buffett, Paul McCartney, and Michael Jackson recorded within its state-of-the-art walls. Musicians spent days or weeks creating their records at what was then a small sliver of Caribbean paradise.

But only a decade after the celebrated studio opened, its life soon came to an abrupt end. When Hurricane Hugo swept across Montserrat in 1989, the storm devastated much of the island and forced the studio to shutter. Then, only six years later, the Soufrière Hills volcano erupted, bombarding the land with lava flows and thick layers of ash. (Jimmy Buffett’s album Volcano, which he recorded in the studio, was named for the then-dormant volcano.) The ongoing volcanic eruptions have made nearly half of the island uninhabitable.

The decaying ruins of the studio stand near the fringe of the exclusion zone. Now too fragile to safely walk within, the studio bears little, if any at all, resemblance to its original grandeur.





AIR Studio is fenced-off and aggressively marked with no-trespassing signs. But thankfully, there are many alternatives to experiencing the impressive recording history of the island including :

1) viewing the studio from afar from the nearby volcano observatory

2) visiting the Hilltop Coffee House, a non-profit owned by long-time Montserrat residents that include informative displays on AIR Studio

3) visiting Olveston House, the former home of George Martin that’s now a hotel and restaurant that includes Beatles photographs.