The death of legendary producer Sir George Martin sparked a social media panic in a case of mistaken identity.
As the news broke, fans of George R. R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire and its TV adaptation Game of Thrones, took to the internet in their thousands to mourn his loss, before realising their error.
They live in dread of such an event, given George R. R. Martin’s age, weight and slowness in finishing his series. Reviews for Game of Thrones have been poorer ever since the show began to run out of source material, and losing Westeros’ original creator would be sad indeed. George R. R. addressed the mix-up in a new humorous blog piece, Not Dead Yet.
Sir George is the latest loss in a sombre start to the year that’s seen the departure of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Glenn Frey and Sir Terry Wogan. With 2016 consisting of two solid months of beloved celebrity names trending with heartfelt tributes, seeing #RIPGeorgeMartin must have been a shock for fans of the author.
Fans and friends of the producer, however, are heartbroken. Surviving Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was the first to break the news of his passing, tweeting the following:
“Thank you for all your love and kindness George peace and love.”
Paul McCartney’s tribute was just as reverential:
“He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of The Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family.”
He was best known for overseeing the production and perfection of almost all the music of the Beatles, with the exception of 1970’s Let it Be, which was created under the eye of fellow production icon Phil Spector. Spector was unable to replicate Martin’s chemistry with the group, and Let it Be is incidentally considered the Fab Four’s only misfire.
He was born in Wiltshire in 1926 to parents with no particular musical talents. George Martin’s fascination with music began when he was only six, fiddling with the family’s otherwise unused piano. His independence, unconventionality and self-reliance were evident from the start: piano lessons lasted only eight sessions, the rest he did himself.
Martin’s start in the music industry was an unlikely indicator of its later brilliance; he began his career working on comedy and novelty records in the 1950s. The work paid off. By the time he was assigned to the Beatles (jokingly referred to as an “arranged marriage”) his technical skill was prodigious.
Martin first met the band in 1962 (before Ringo joined) and secured their first record deal. He may have proved to be the group’s salvation; their last road into the firm ground of the music industry after several rejections from the major labels of their day.
Though each Beatle carved out a distinctive stylistic contribution they could bring to the table, it was Martin’s guidance, discipline and fearless vision that collated these elements and pushed them to their full potential. The Lennon and McCartney songwriting partnership gave unforgettable melodies, quotable lyrics and layers of hidden gems. But at the start of the group’s rise, Martin’s musical experience and theoretical knowledge was far superior. He guided them to greater heights. The Beatles’ songs eventually yielded some of pop music’s most famous orchestral arrangements, the vast majority a product of George Martin’s brain.
In addition to becoming the catalyst for the Beatles’ success, he proved a prolific producer following their breakup, ending his career with 53 number ones on both sides of the Atlantic.
Martin helped sculpt the music of numerous other legends such as Neil Sedaka, Elton John and Jeff Beck. He produced Paul McCartney’s last international top ten hit No More Lonely Nights, confirming the uniqueness of their relationship and his ability to bring out the best in each Beatle.