George Martin, music producer and 'Fifth Beatle', dies at age 90

British record producer George Martin, who turned The Beatles into superstars, has died at the age of 90.
British record producer George Martin, who turned The Beatles into superstars, has died at the age of 90.PHOTO: EPA

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - George Martin, the legendary music producer who shaped The Beatles into the world's most important pop music force, has died, the band's drummer Ringo Starr said on Twitter. He was 90.

"God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family," Starr tweeted, referring to Martin's wife. He followed the message by posting a photo of the Fab Four with Martin, saying: "Thank you for all your love and kindness George."

Martin's management confirmed his death. "We can confirm that Sir George Martin passed away peacefully at home yesterday evening, Tuesday, March 8."

British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the producer, who was knighted in 1996. He wrote on Twitter: "Sir George Martin was a giant of music - working with the Fab Four to create the world's most enduring pop music."

Martin's innovative recording techniques and role as authoritarian figure and mentor was so essential to The Beatles' success that he was nicknamed the "Fifth Beatle".

Born a carpenter's son in North London, he served also as collaborator and mentor to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Starr.

He was heading Parlophone, a division of EMI, in 1962 when he signed the group on after hearing their demo record.

During his six-decade career, he produced almost all of the Beatles' recordings and also worked with Gerry and the Pacemakers, Jeff Beck, America, Cheap Trick and other acts.

He produced jazz, comedy and classical albums before signing The Beatles.

The young band members were rough around the edges, but Martin saw their commercial promise. Over the coming years, he helped score, arrange, and produce many of the band's biggest hits, including Yesterday and Love Me Do. His 1979 autobiography, All You Need Is Ears, chronicles his discovery of The Beatles and their creative process.

In 2006, working with his son, Giles Martin, he helped develop the Beatles-inspired Cirque du Soleil show Love in Las Vegas, which went on to reap his two most recent Grammys.

He was named by Guinness World Records as the most successful producer ever, with more than 50 No.1 hit records over five decades in the United States and Britain alone.

Sean Ono, John Lennon's son with Yoko Ono, posted a picture of Martin on Instagram, with the caption: "R.I.P. George Martin. I'm so gutted I don't have many words."

Tributes from the music world poured in on Twitter. Lenny Kravitz said: "The legends are really going home!" Boy George said: "George Martin. Gentleman and legend", while Mark Ronson said Martin was "the greatest British record producer of all time."