George Martin, the producer who guided, assisted, and stood aside through the Beatles' swift, historic transformation from rowdy club act to musical and cultural revolutionaries, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, his management says, per the AP. He was 90. Too modest to call himself the "Fifth Beatle," a title many felt he deserved, the tall, elegant Londoner produced some of the most popular and influential albums of modern times—Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Abbey Road—elevating rock LPs from ways to cash in on hit singles to art forms, or "concepts." He won six Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Three years earlier, he was knighted.
Martin both witnessed and enabled the extraordinary changes of the Beatles and of the 1960s. From a raw first album in 1962 that took just a day to make, to the monthslong production of Sgt. Pepper's, the Beatles advanced by quantum steps as songwriters and sonic explorers. They not only composed dozens of classics, from "She Loves You" to "Hey Jude," but also turned the studio into a wonderland of tape loops, multitracking, unpredictable tempos, unfathomable segues, and kaleidoscopic montages. "Once we got beyond the bubblegum stage, the early recordings, and they wanted to do something more adventurous, they were saying, 'What can you give us?'" Martin told the AP in 2002. "And I said, 'I can give you anything you like.'" (Read more Beatles stories.)