It’s a sad week in that George Martin, producer of most of the material recorded by the Beatle’s, died yesterday at 90 years of age. Often referred to as the “5th Beatle, Martin signed the band onto their first record contract in 1962 and went on to produce most of their hits over the following 8 years.
Whilst reflecting on Martin’s contribution to the band, I started thinking about the influence the Beatle’s have had on modern pop culture. The commercial success of the Beatle’s was very much responsible for the move away from more popular American rock and roll, towards a trend for British music. Perhaps more significantly, following their 1964 performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Beatle’s inspired thousands of young Americans to pick up guitars and form their own garage rock bands. This performance created a ripple effect of new young talent forming to make popular music across the globe.
It’s hardly surprising that the Beatle’s continue to influence pop culture today. They are the best selling band in history, with a whopping 600 million record sales! To put this into context: Elvis, the highest selling artist in history, has also sold roughly 600 million records and the Rolling Stones just 200 million.
The band has also had a significant impact on fashion trends, as well as a rise in record versus singles sales. They filmed the first ever music video, recorded out of a necessity to lessen the demand on their time for live TV show performances. They made the first ever concept album, played the first ever stadium show, were the first band to form their own record label, were the subject of the first ever live radio broadcast, were the first band to include lyrics on their record sleeve, the first artists to have a song longer than 3 minutes played in full on FM radio and the list goes on and on and on…
Without George Martin the Beatle’s may never have risen to fame with such ferocity and, therefore, without George Martin modern day pop culture may have been driven in an altogether different direction. May he rest in peace.