“What made all the difference — and what resulted in records that either proved rock wasn’t a fad or ensured that it would not be — was that George Martin was an essentially good and sympathetic man who not only liked the Beatles but recognized their talent and potential. They learned from him — Paul McCartney has fondly recalled how Martin convinced him that a string quartet backing was the way to go for ‘Yesterday’ — and he learned from them.
“While he was able to whip off a credibly baroque-era harpsichord solo for ‘In My Life’ like it wasn’t no thang, Martin didn’t shrug off McCartney when he came into the studio raving about modernist composer Stockhausen, or when George Harrison studied with Ravi Shankar or started experimenting with analog synthesizers.
“Nine out of 10 other older musos in Martin’s orbit would surely have dismissed tape collages (an early form of sampling, if you think about it) as just so much unmusical nonsense. Martin, trying to please John Lennon’s request for a sonic kaleidoscope on ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,’ got the razor and the tape and went to work. He and the Beatles introduced more avant-garde techniques and sounds into popular music than any pioneers before or since.