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George Martin: 20 Great Non-Beatles Productions

Cheap Trick, Elton John, James Bond and more

George Martin

George Martin sits next to a sound board in the Eighties.

Martyn Goddard/Corbis

The tirelessly experimental, gorgeously grandiose production of George Martin is synonymous with the Beatles — and understandably so. His studio stewardship of the group for most of their existence went far beyond the traditional producer role and, together, they pushed the limits of what pop music could sound like. But Martin’s career predated the Fab Four and would continue long after they broke up. He lent his formidable, innovative production and arranging talents to a variety of pop, novelty and soundtrack sessions in the early days; and his work with a panoply of top-name rock artists from the Fifties through the Nineties solidified a legacy that didn’t even need it.

“That’s part of my background, the catholic world of music that has no limits, no blinkers.” Martin told Mojo in 2007. “And when you achieve something that you know hasn’t been done before, and know that people will love it, it’s an enormous feeling of elation, to have done something really worthwhile.”

From passing along Beatles rejects to Gerry and the Pacemakers to fostering Seventies jazz fusion with Mahavishnu Orchestra to helping Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana became the second best-selling single of all time, here are some examples of why Martin was so much more than the Fifth Beatle.

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Elton John, “Candle in the Wind 1997” (1997)

The best-selling single George Martin ever produced wasn't a Beatles song. Immediately following Princess Diana's death, Elton John quickly reworked his 1973 song "Candle in the Wind," initially a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, to mourn the late royal. The recording would sell more than 33 million copies worldwide, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks. Though John might not have anticipated such massive sales, the single would clearly be a major pop event, so he contacted Martin to lend the precise air of gravitas he desired. They'd worked together just two years earlier on a track for John's Made in England album, which was recorded at Martin's AIR Studios in London. The elderly Martin arranged a string quartet for "Candle in the Wind 1997" and added an oboe as well. It would be the last hit Martin produced. K.H.

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