If Sir George Martin is not the greatest producer in the history of modern music, he certainly comes close. He not only passed on a lot of his vast musical knowledge to his artists, he also let them develop their individual talents to the fullest, in contrast to producers like David Foster and Simon Cowell, who developed a "signature sound" that makes all of their recordings sound the same, regardless of the performer. Martin also is a true English gentleman who has more class than Simon Cowell (or Piers Morgan) will ever have. Actually, Cowell and Morgan have a lot of class, if you delete the "C" and the "L."
This wonderful documentary, originally broadcast on the BBC, runs the gamut of Sir George's life, from his Depression-era childhood, to his World War II service in the Fleet Air Arm, to his musical education at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, to his start with EMI's tiny Parlophone label (as an assistant to Oscar Preuss) in 1950; he became the head of Parlophone when Preuss retired in 1955. The EMI "big boys," according to Martin, were His Master's Voice (HMV) and Columbia, mainly because of their longstanding ties to RCA Victor and Columbia/CBS Records in America, respectively. When EMI lost the RCA and CBS contracts in the 1950s, EMI then purchased Hollywood-based Capitol Records, primarily to obtain new American product. Oddly enough, today, Parlophone is the longest continuously surviving EMI label, though other imprints (e.g., Stateside Records, and the on-again, off-again Regal Zonophone label [now two separate imprints, Regal Recordings, a Parlophone specialty label, and Zonophone, used primarily as a reissue label for Capitol and other back-catalog product]) have been revived and folded from time to time. The Columbia Graphophone Company was folded into the larger EMI Records label in the early-to-mid-1970s, and the Columbia trademark itself was transferred to Sony Music (the new owners of CBS Records) in the early 1990s. HMV became a classical-only label by the end of the 1960s (except for a few Morrissey recordings issued with retro HMV labels in 1988, at the artist's insistence) and was later folded into EMI Classics (now Warner Classics). EMI also sold off the HMV music store chain to new ownership in the late 1990s, and transferred the Nipper-and-gramophone trademark (except in America, where it is owned by RCA Trademark Management) to HMV Group PLC in 2003. With EMI's 2013 takeover by Universal Music Group, Parlophone was one of several EMI labels sold to Warner Music Group because of European Union antitrust concerns. The Beatles' catalog will still be owned by UMG, under either a new Capitol Records UK imprint or Universal Music International; whether The Beatles' older albums and CDs (the first eight, from [[ASIN:B0025KVLRO Please Please Me]] to [[ASIN:B0025KVLTM Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band]]) will still be pressed with historic Parlophone labels (with a licensing fee paid to Warner Music Group, the new owners of Parlophone) or reissued with Capitol UK labels is unknown at the present time. Another possibility is that The Beatles' entire catalog may be shifted to the Apple label, as was the case with U.S., German, and Japanese reissues (and possibly other countries as well) in the 1970s.
Sir George's most famous signing was, of course, The Beatles, in 1962, but his range of artists that he produced over his 50-plus year career included jazz (Humphrey Lyttleton, John Dankworth, and his wife-to-be Cleo Laine), pop chanteuses such as Shirley Bassey, comedy (Peter Sellers, The Goon Shows, Rolf Harris of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" fame, [[ASIN:B000006SW2 The Complete Beyond The Fringe (1961 Original London Cast)]], and the music for [[ASIN:B000008LIL That Was the Week That Was: Classic TV Satire of the 1960's]], which was also produced in the U.S. on NBC), other British Invasion acts (Billy J. Kramer With The Dakotas, Gerry And The Pacemakers, Cilla Black), and the solo Beatles (Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr's [[ASIN:B000007MVU Sentimental Journey]], and one posthumously orchestrated track, "Grow Old With Me," on [[ASIN:B00000DG1Q The John Lennon Anthology]]). Martin was also successful with the group America, and his final work was with son Giles (a fine producer in his own right) for The Beatles' Cirque du Soleil show, [[ASIN:B000JJS8TM Love (CD + Audio DVD)]] and its companion documentary, [[ASIN:B0032E9I6S All Together Now: A Documentary Film]].
There are interviews with Sir George's wife Lady Judy, son Giles, Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Rolf Harris, Cilla Black, singer Millicent Martin (no relation), and others. The DVD also contains an additional 52 minutes of bonus interviews not aired on the BBC special.
In addition to this DVD, I would also recommend the EMI 6-CD box set [[ASIN:B00005BCHH Produced By George Martin]], released in 2001, which covers the entire spectrum of Martin's career up to that time.
Rest In Peace, Sir George Henry Martin, CBE (born January 3, 1926, died March 8, 2016 - two months and five days after his 90th birthday). You've earned a key to Heaven, sir! Thanks for all of the great music through the years - not just The Beatles, but everything you did!