There’s no question that The Beatles introduced new styles of writing, performing, and especially recording music in the early 1960s. Much of their success comes from the hands of George Martin, the record producer who crafted the inimitable sound of The Beatles. Otherwise known as the “fifth Beatle,” Sir George Martin was the first producer who helped shape the Beatles’ incredible body of work over the course of seven years. Last year, author Kenneth Womack released Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, the first-ever biography about Sir George Martin, tracing his early life and career. The second book of two is ready to hit shelves on September 4, 2018, called Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Later Years 1966-2016.
In 1966, the Beatles and George Martin stood at a creative crossroads. The bandmates had started to feel stunted in their musical growth, so they started engaging in brash experimentation both inside and outside the studio. The Beatles had also expanded their demographic considerably beyond teens and young adults, leading to new fans of all ages. With more recognition, the band began to feel like prisoners of their fame and grew frustrated by the culture’s inability to grasp the meaning behind their work. Martin worked with the band as they navigated the changing landscape of mid-1960s rock ’n’ roll. Martin’s work ethic and studio savviness earned him a long-lasting partnership with the Beatles that continued throughout the later years of his life. In Sound Pictures, readers will discover how Martin helped the bandmates grow as musicians and found the transformative sound that the Beatles are known for today.
Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Later Years 1966-2016 is the second volume of the first full-length biography of George Martin. Kenneth Womack, author and Beatles scholar, provides a detailed account of Martin’s collaborative work with “the fab four” as they advance beyond the success of their earlier recordings. Sound Pictures takes readers behind the scenes and reveals George’s diligent efforts to consolidate the Beatles’ fame in the face of the sociocultural pressures of the time, most noteworthy being the “Beatles are more popular than Jesus” scandal. It also includes stories of Martin’s interactions with the band, including when John Lennon, who hated the sound of his own voice, requested that Martin tweak his vocals: “Make me sound like the Dalai Lama chanting from a mountaintop.”
While Martin’s encouragement of musical experimentation led to the creation of such classics as Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (the highlight of his production career) and Abbey Road, mounting pressures and challenges threatened their achievements. After his work with the Beatles, Martin continued his work as a freelance music producer while discovering new prospects with musical acts such as Elton John, America, Jeff Beck, Cheap Trick and Paul McCartney. However, Martin and the Beatles would ultimately find their way back to each other to immortalize the magic that started it all.
Sound Pictures is an exceptionally detailed look at the man who had incredible influence on the Beatles’ body of work. Decades later, George Martin’s legacy continues to influence music history as new generations rediscover the timeless wonder of the Beatles. Fans will enjoy following the story of the band’s incredible artistic trajectory after reaching the creative heights of Rubber Soul.
For more information on both of Kenneth Womack’s work, head here.