The identity of the true “fifth Beatle” has been hotly debated for half a century, but the strongest case can be made for Sir George Martin. The band’s trusted and loyal producer, Martin served as expert and conspirator, taskmaster and mad scientist, friend and father figure throughout the band’s studio life. He shaped their songs in ways that are seldom appreciated but impossible to forget.
Unlike most producers of his era, his creative daring fostered an environment where it was acceptable to explore and expand the realm of the possible. He played with the Beatles, in every sense of the word — by picking up an instrument, or merely indulging their curiosity and translating their abstract musical fantasies into reality. “He was always there for us to interpret our strangeness,” recalled George Harrison. It’s difficult, and frightening, to imagine the Beatles’ artistic trajectory had they been paired with anyone else. His role as a confidant, advocate and realizer cannot be overstated.
As we mourn his death at age 90, we remember his life and the incredible work he did with “the boys.” These are 10 of our favorite moments in the Beatles’ catalog that we owe to George Martin.