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George Martin rare 1998 interview provides valuable Beatles insights

Legendary producer for the Beatles, Sir George Martin, passed away on March 8, 2016 at the age of 90. He played such an integral role in the music of The Beatles that many regard him as the “fifth” Beatle.

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In 1999, Sir George released an album called In My Life which was a collection of Beatles songs covered by different artists. Produced by Martin, the album features songs by many A-list celebrities including Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion, Goldie Hawn, Sean Connery and Phil Collins.

georgemartin-inmylifeCDTo promote the album, George Martin did an extensive interview with Beatles historian, Martin Lewis in 1998. The audio interview and transcript was released to the media to help publicize the In My Life album in 1999. This interview with Sir George provides great insight into his work with The Beatles.

Here is a brief excerpt:

Q: So there you are in 1962, something happened then that changed everything for you – you met Brian Epstein, who managed The Beatles. Tell me about that.

George Martin: Brian Epstein brought along a tape of a group that he called the most unlikely name of The Beatles, a very corny name I thought, and [the tape] was not very good, in fact it was awful. But it did have something, it had a sound that was very rough and raw. The songs weren’t anything to write home about. My reaction to him – he was very persuasive, he was convinced “this is going to be the best group ever. They’d been in Germany, they’re turning people away when they’re doing gigs.”

He didn’t tell me that he’d been to every other record company in the country, and been turned down by every record company. If I had known that, I would have chucked him out the door, but I listened very politely to him, he was a very nice man, very persuasive. And I said, “If you want me to judge it on this I would have to say never, but if you like I will give these characters some time. If you bring them down from Liverpool, I will take them into the studio and I will see what we can do with them, and then I’ll tell you if they’re any good or not.”

But when The Beatles came down, we spent an afternoon in the studio together and that was quite different.

Q: In what way was it different when they actually came into the studio in June 1962?

George Martin: They had tremendous charisma, these four boys. At least three of them did. The guy who played drums [Pete Best] was very good-looking but he didn’t say much and just kept very quiet in the background. But the other three were full of life and joking around with each other…

The songs they played me weren’t terrific, they were OK, but there wasn’t a hit I could hear. “Love Me Do” was about the best. But they had that quality which made you feel good. And I thought to myself, well if they make me feel good, and I’m a pretty hard, cynical bloke, they’re going to make other people feel good too. And therefore they have that charisma which is necessary for success…

This was the time also, it’s been much repeated, when I brought them into the control room to listen to what we’d been doing to their sound to see whether they thought the balance was right with what they’re used to hearing. And I said, “Have a listen to this and if there’s anything you don’t like, let me know.” Of course, George, the smart-ass that he was, said, “Well for a start, I don’t like your tie.” The others thought I would be offended by this, but it broke the atmosphere. It was very funny.
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Q: Do you think you had the midas touch?

George Martin: I didn’t analyze my technique. To begin with, my main role was shaping and helping with instrumentals, helping with introductions, helping with the way it rounded off at the end. In a song like “Can’t Buy Me Love” for example, I took a phrase out of the chorus and turned it into an introduction.

When Paul first brought me the song, he started it off [imitates music] ba-da-da-da-da at the beginning of the song, and I said we need something more hooky than that, something to grab your attention. Which is why I took out “Can’t Buy Me Love” and constructed a beginning by repeating the hook into an introduction which seized upon your mind. You had to sell things quickly in those days.

Q: Did The Beatles take very happily to you making these suggestions in the first place or were they initially a little surprised that this slightly older person had ideas that melded so well with their own?

George Martin: The Beatles were very collaborative. I suppose they had to be. But no, there was no problem with them because they knew the formulas were working. They could see that anything we were doing together was the right way to do it. You can’t argue with number one.
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Q: There was always the misnomer that John always described himself as a rocker, and yet it was he who wrote songs such as “Julia” and “In My Life” and people say “oh Paul, he wrote all those romantic ballads,” but he also wrote “Helter Skelter.”

George Martin: Paul and John were extraordinarily similar, and yet they were extraordinarily different. They were a perfect match because their collaboration was competitive and they both did the same things very well… But they were both geniuses. In my book, they were equal geniuses. One was not above the other in any way, they were both superb.
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Note: This was just a tiny excerpt from the lengthy, in-depth interview with George Martin.
The extended transcript (filling six 8.5 X 11 pages) of this insightful interview was printed in
Daytrippin’ Magazine, Issue No. 7 from 1999, which is now available in electronic format
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or NEW: Save up to 70% with exclusive online access: CLICK HERE
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Other articles you might have missed:
When Elvis met The Beatles, was there a secret reporter present?

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When John Lennon’s sons helped induct Elvis Presley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

julian-sean-bwThis month marks several Beatle-related anniversaries with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the RRHOF Induction ceremony used to be held in January. In later years, the ceremony was moved to the Spring.

On January 20, 1988, The Beatles were inducted at the 3rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony by Mick Jagger (click here for induction speech).

George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Julian and Sean Lennon accepted on behalf of The Beatles. Paul McCartney was not in attendance.

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On January 19, 1994, John Lennon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Paul McCartney. He was the first member of the Beatles to be inducted on his own.

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But on January 23, 1986, it was Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon who took part in the first annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. On behalf of their father, John Lennon, they helped induct Elvis Presley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Jack Soden, President and Executive Director of Graceland, and Memphis DJ and close Elvis friend, George Klein.

Julian Lennon, aged 22, appeared in all black, while 10-year-old Sean Lennon was dressed in a handsome white tuxedo. Julian, with Sean standing at his side, was the first speaker in the presentation of Elvis Presley’s award, followed by Jack Soden. The award was then accepted on Elvis’ behalf by his close friend, George Klein.

John Lennon’s admiration for The King of Rock and Roll is now common knowledge among music fans. Lennon said his love for rock and roll was inspired first and foremost by Presley. He credits his motivation to form his first band, which evolved into The Beatles, as a result of wanting to be just like Elvis. Even after the group took shape, their goal of being “bigger than Elvis” helped them achieve worldwide success.

That night at the induction ceremony, Julian Lennon started out with a brief introduction: “Our father was a big fan of Elvis’s and, of course, Elvis was loved all over the world, and we are all influenced [by] him,” Julian said. “I think a lot of people in the world get a lot of pleasure from listening to him and love him greatly.”

Then he read a direct quote from John Lennon, which spoke volumes: “Elvis was the thing, whatever people say, he was it. I was not competing against Elvis, rock happened to be the media I was born into – it was the one, that’s all. Those people who picked up paintbrushes, like Van Gogh, probably wanted to be Renoir or whomever went before him. I wanted to be Elvis.”

Then, Jack Soden read a brief statement from Lisa Marie Presley. He then introduced George Klein, who gave a dramatic and celebratory speech about his friend and best man at his wedding, Elvis Presley. Here is just a brief part of the speech:

“On January 8, 1935, a star was born. You see a star is not made, a star is born… The real honest to goodness rags to riches rise of the most inspiring version of the American Dream to ever happen. In doing so, Elvis fulfilled the hopes and dreams of an entire generation. The world was never to be the same again. You see Elvis Presley wasn’t a star, he was a damn galaxy!”

Other inductees that night at the induction ceremony in New York City included Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Sam Phillips. Notably, Elvis Presley holds the record for being inducted into the greatest number of Music Hall of Fames – 16 to be exact.
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If you enjoyed this article, more fascinating stories about Elvis Presley and The Beatles can be found in the new book, ELVIS AND THE BEATLES: Love and Rivalry Between the Two Biggest Acts of the 20th Century

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New Beatles statue in Liverpool

It’s hard to believe that there has never been a traditional permanent statue of The Beatles erected – until now! The new statue of The Fab Four was unveiled on Friday, December 4, 2015 at Liverpool’s Pier Head.

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The bronze statue depicting all four Beatles in suits, topcoats and Beatle boots, circa 1963 reminiscent of their Live at the BBC album cover photo, was unveiled by John Lennon’s sister, Julia Baird, and Liverpool Deputy Mayor Ann O’Byrne. According to The Liverpool Echo, the statue weighs approximately 1.3 tons and was sculpted by artist Andrew Edwards.

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The faces look extremely lifelike and the statues are a few feet taller than the real thing, causing most people to reach only the shoulder height of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr for photo purposes. John and Paul are placed slightly ahead of George and Ringo as they appear to be walking down the street together. The statue was presented to the city by the Merseybeat venue the Beatles helped to make famous, The Cavern Club.

The statue unveiling marks 50 years since The Beatles final show in Liverpool at the Empire Theatre on December 5, 1965. Sculptor Andy Edwards told the BBC that he hopes his statue will become “a place of ritual” for people to come together.

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“The statue stands in loving memory of the best band in the world – the band that leapt from The Cavern stage to worldwide recognition,” Julia Baird said.

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Update: In 2018, Paul McCartney visited The Beatles statues with James Corden.

PaulMcCartney with his Liverpool statue

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Elvis looking at Beatles magazine


50th anniversary of when The Beatles met Elvis Presley

by Trina Young

elvis-looksatbeatlesmagThe most infamous rock and roll meeting of all time occurred when Elvis Presley met The Beatles. On August 27, 1965, John, Paul, George and Ringo along with their manager, publicist and assistants came to Presley’s house on Perugia Way in Los Angeles to meet their rock and roll idol.

The Beatles were the ones who pushed for the meeting. After all, it was Elvis who was one of the main influences for John Lennon to start the band. “Without Elvis, there would be no Beatles,” Lennon famously remarked in later years.

A British journalist who also attended the infamous meeting was Chris Hutchins, a reporter for the New Musical Express (NME) at the time. He had been documenting the anticipation of The Beatles’ possibly meeting Elvis since Paul McCartney called and spoke to Presley on the phone a year earlier.

During their concert tour in the summer of 1964, The Beatles tried to arrange a meeting with Elvis, but they could never coordinate their schedules. Instead, Colonel Parker visited with The Beatles and gave them gifts of Elvis souvenirs.

Finally, in August 1965, the stars seemed to align since The Beatles were in L.A. for their concert at The Hollywood Bowl and Elvis was in L.A. having just returned from Hawaii where he was filming Paradise Hawaiian Style.

Unfortunately, Colonel Parker, with the agreement of Brian Epstein, insisted that no pictures or video be taken of the infamous meeting. Therefore, this historic event is recounted solely through eyewitness accounts from the people who were there.

It was a typical night at Presley’s home with members of Elvis’ entourage on hand as well as a few of their female companions including Presley’s live-in girlfriend and future wife, Priscilla Presley. Also added to the mix was Colonel Parker who was there on this special occasion to make sure things ran smoothly. . . .

Finish reading the entire story in the new book:
ELVIS AND THE BEATLES: Love and Rivalry Between the Two Biggest Acts of the 20th Century

 

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In Memoriam: Cynthia Lennon dies from cancer at age 75

It was announced on Wednesday April 1 that John Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia Lennon, passed away in Mallorca, Spain after a short battle with cancer.

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Julian and Cynthia Lennon at Beatles LOVE show premiere in Las Vegas in 2006. Photo by Shelley Germeaux for Daytrippin'

Julian and Cynthia Lennon at Beatles LOVE show premiere in Las Vegas in 2006. Photo by Shelley Germeaux for Daytrippin’

Cynthia met John Lennon at the Liverpool College of Art in 1958 and they soon began dating. She wrote about their relationship in her book, A Twist of Lennon (1978). She shared intimate details of their time together:
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“John and I in those early days would just sit opposite each other, hold each other’s hands under the formica table and gaze avidly into each other’s moon-struck eyes,” Cynthia said.
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A love letter from John to Cynthia was published in the recent book, The John Lennon Letters. John wrote an 8-page letter to Cynthia at Christmastime in 1958. He was 18 years old and gushing over and over of how much he loved her:
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“You are wonderful, I adore you, I want you, I love you, I need you, Don’t go, I love you, Happy Xmas, Merry Chrimbo, I love you, I love you, I love you, Cynthia… All I Want For Christmas Is You, Cyn”.
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A few years later as John was concentrating on his career as a Beatle, he and Cynthia decided to get married when they learned she was pregnant in 1962.
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Julian Lennon was born on April 8, 1963. The demands of touring during Beatlemania and the temptations from other women resulted in their marriage becoming strained.

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In 1968, Cynthia caught John and Yoko together at the house she shared with John. The subsequent split took a toll on the Beatle family with Paul McCartney writing a song of support and encouragement for Julian called “Hey Jude.” John and Cynthia’s divorce became final in November 1968.

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Cynthia Lennon at a book signing for "John" in New York, October 2005.

Cynthia Lennon at a book signing for “John” in New York, October 2005. Photo by Trina Yannicos.

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In 2005, Cynthia published another book about Lennon called John.
She talked about her marriage to Lennon in this interview promoting the book:

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Over the years, Cynthia appeared several times in public to support her son Julian at various Beatle-related events.

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In 2006, Cynthia and Julian attend the Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil premiere in Las Vegas.

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In 2010, Julian and Cynthia appear at the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument in Liverpool.

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Cynthia Lennon was 75 years old. Julian Lennon has set up a memorial page for his mum at cynthialennon.memorial. He also posted a touching tribute for his mother on YouTube:

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“The news of Cynthia’s passing is very sad. She was a lovely lady who I’ve known since our early days together in Liverpool. She was a good mother to Julian and will be missed by us all, but I will always have great memories of our times together.”

– Paul McCartney

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