“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.
“Of course, as in any mentor/acolyte relationship, there were strains, and these natural growing pains exacerbated as the Beatles themselves began to abrade each other. Recording a chorus of saxes for his song ‘Savoy Truffle,’ Harrison had them peaking a little on the into-the-red side, and Martin warned him that this would result in distortion. Harrison reportedly shot back that he knew, and that it was what he wanted.
“When the band was being torn apart by clashing personalities and business hassles, it attempted to return to its unsupervised roots by recording without Martin; the resultant ‘Get Back’ was such a hash that the group resolved to make peace with one another and Martin, and end its recording career with a bang. That was Abbey Road.” — from a 3.9 Vanity Fair tribute piece by HE’s own Glen Kenny.