R.I.P. George Martin

George Martin, the influential producer and arranger who is often known as “the fifth Beatle” for his extensive work with the band, has died, Billboard reports. Ringo Starr confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, “God bless George Martin, peace and love to Judy and his family…George will be missed.” He was 90 years old.

Martin was the head of EMI’s Parlophone Records in 1962 when he met the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. Upon listening to a demo tape the band had made for Decca Records, who rejected them, Martin reportedly described the Beatles as “rather unpromising,” but liked John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s harmonies and decided to give them a chance. Following a successful audition at EMI’s famed Abbey Road Studios, he signed them, giving the Beatles their first recording contract.

After replacing original drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr at Martin’s suggestion, the Beatles released their first single, “Love Me Do,” in October 1962, peaking at #17 on the UK charts. During the recording of their next single “Please Please Me,” the first to be released in the US, Martin convinced the band to speed the tempo up, changing it from a slow ballad to an uptempo pop song. After the recording, Martin said, “Gentlemen, you have just made your first number one record,” and indeed, the single reached the top of most of the British charts.

Martin produced and arranged almost all of the Beatles’ records, and his hand is obvious in many of their most famous songs. He was responsible for the strings in “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby” and the orchestral climax in “A Day In The Life,” and he taught John Lennon the technique of playing tape machines backwards, leading to psychedelic compositions like “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

In addition to his work with the Beatles, Martin produced records for Kate Bush, Elton John, Jeff Beck, Kenny Rogers, Cheap Trick, Celine Dion, Gerry & The Pacemakers, America, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and he produced Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr’s solo albums. He also composed a number of film scores, including the score for the 1973 James Bond film Live And Let Die, and he produced Paul McCartney And Wings’ theme for the same film and Shirley Bassey’s theme for the 1964 Bond movie Goldfinger.

Martin was recognized with numerous awards, including six Grammys, and he was knighted in 1996. He is survived by his his wife Judy and his children Giles, Alexis, Gregory, and Lucy. Revisit some of his work below.