Martinmania: students celebrate The Beatles' producer

 

IT IS nearly 40 years since Sir George Martin produced The Beatles but he spoke to UCD students about the experience like it was yesterday.

Mr Martin, a preternaturally youthful-looking 82, received the James Joyce Award from the university's Literary and Historical Society before an audience of students who would have been glints in their grandparents' eyes when he produced some of the greatest music ever recorded.

A Dublin-based Beatles tribute band warmed up for Mr Martin who was there with his wife Judy and his producer son Giles.

The man sometimes known as the fifth Beatle recounted how his carpenter father and seamstress mother could not afford music lessons for him, but he managed to get into the Guildhall School of Music and Drama because of his innate ear for music.

When he started out at Abbey Road studios as a producer of comedy records, electricity was so intermittent that the stylophone was driven by a weight hanging from the ceiling. "You are looking at a real dinosaur," he said.

He was not immediately impressed when he first heard The Beatles. "I told him (manager Brian Epstein) that if he wanted me to sign them based on what he had played me of their music, the answer had to be 'No'," he said.

He was, though, impressed with their attitude. "They imparted a sense of wellbeing. I was hoping they might do the same for the audience," he said.

He recalled how he turned the slow-paced Please Please Mefrom a "dreary Roy Orbison ballad" to the band's first number one, and spoke of why the band stopped touring in 1966.

"The girls were screaming so loud that Ringo Starr could only keep up by watching the bums wiggling in front of him," he said.

He said Strawberry Fields Foreverand Penny Lane, the double A side single released in 1966, was written by two songwriters, Lennon and McCartney, "trying to outdo each other".

He finished with a quotation from Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: "You're such a lovely audience, we'd love to take you home with us".