RIP George Martin: 5 of his best arrangements with the Beatles 7 years ago

RIP George Martin: 5 of his best arrangements with the Beatles

Farewell to the fifth Beatle.

Having already accounted for David Bowie, Lemmy and Glenn Frey, 2016 claimed the life of another luminary from the music world last night as George Martin passed away at the age of 90.


Martin started out in the music business in the early 1950s and over the following six decades he worked as an arranger, producer, composer and musicians with some of the biggest names in the business, including Shirley Bassey, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Wings, America and Elton John.


It is for his work with the Beatles that Martin will be most remembered; indeed, probably the greatest band of all-time might not have even got off the ground were it not for Martin signing them to his label, Parlophone, in 1962.

And it was a good job he did, because, together, they went onto produce some of the most memorable songs the world has ever heard, many of which had Martin’s fingerprints all over them.


It could easily have been closer to 50, but here are five of the best.

Please Please Me (1963)

Clip via Cristhian Alfredo Pinedo Gamarra


Lively and laced with catchy harmonies, Please Please Me was typical of The Beatles’ earlier work and came about after Martin persuaded John Lennon to record a more upbeat version of a song that was his attempt at Roy Orbison.

Memorably, after the Beatles finished recording the song in studio, Martin congratulated them from the control room, saying: “Gentlemen, you’ve just recorded your first number one,” a moment recreated in The Simpsons’ loving tribute to the Fab Four during the show’s golden era.


In My Life (1965)


Clip via HeadfulOfHollow

Arguably Martin’s most outstanding contribution to a specific Beatles song was the inspired middle eight on In My Life from the Rubber Soul album.

Assisted by Paul McCartney, Martin composed a piano and harpischord solo that was played at double the normal speed during recording so it didn’t disrupt the original tempo.

It made an already great song into one of the best of all-time.


Tomorrow Never Knows (1966)

Clip via Paolo H Caetano

“He wanted his voice to sound like the Dalai Lama chanting from a hilltop,” said Martin of John Lennon’s ambition for the last song on the Revolver album.

If you’re willing to use your imagination, he probably does. What a song though and it’s well worth listening to Martin and three of the Beatles go through the recording process here.

I am the Walrus (1967)

The Beatles’ output grew more experimental in the late 1960s, illustrated perfectly in the aptly-titled Magical Mystery Tour album.

Martin’s contribution was the orchestral arrangement, which sounds great in its original form and even better in the version of the song on the 2006 Love album produced by Martin and his son Giles.

A Day in the Life (1967)

Martin said of the iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album: “It was the watershed which changed the recording art from something which will stand the test of time as a valid art form: sculpture in music, if you like.”

And he was absolutely right. Never mind 1967, the album sounds radical even by today’s standards and it is a testament to the ambition of Martin and the band that they could produce something that is still deservedly regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Martin once again provided the orchestral arrangement for this number, which concludes with a chaotic and magnificent crescendo of noise and is capped off with the crashing piano chord at the finale.