Biographer claims producer was left to read and eat chocolate in studio after media called him the true genius behind Sgt Pepper
He was the producer often referred to as the fifth Beatle. But George Martin was frozen out by the band while they were making the White Album in 1968, a new biography claims.
Its author, Kenneth Womack, said that a cold war between Martin and the band led to him turning up to those recording sessions with a large stack of newspapers and a giant bar of chocolate only to sit at the back of the control booth reading and eating. Martin had produced SgtPeppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of many landmarks of music that he oversaw, but he would speak only if he was called on by the Beatles while they made the White Album.
Womack believes the pain of this episode explains why Martin barely mentioned it in his autobiography. Womack said he had obtained the account from sound engineers and tape operators who worked on the sessions. I asked them what George was doing when John was playing a particular guitar part or when Ringo was working on some drum part, he explained. They would say, nothing, he was in the back of the booth, reading newspapers, sharing his chocolate with us. He was on a kind of a chocolate-and-newspaper strike.
Womack said there had been uncertainty after the death of Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager, from an overdose the previous year: But it also had a lot to do with a Time magazine article in 1967 where George was credited with being this wunderkind and the mastermind behind Sgt Pepper. They didnt take very well to that and let him know I do think this was the beginning of this struggle over whos the genius behind the Beatles?
This was payback for taking credit for the Beatles myth But they coaxed him back for Abbey Road [the 1969 album].
Mark Lewisohn, author of numerous books on the Beatles, expressed surprise: Ive talked, over many years, to most of the personnel on that album, and never heard this claimed before. As Ken isnt the kind of author to make things up, it would seem people have told him things theyve not told anyone before. Though I remain doubtful about it, and still to be convinced, it isnt beyond the realm of possibility. Some resentment was certainly felt by one or more of the Beatles when intellectual newspapers and magazines credited Martin for their work more than they felt was right.
Womacks account will feature in Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, the Later Years, 19662016, the second of a two-volume biography of Martin, to be published in September. The first part, Maximum Volume, was described by one reviewer as unfussy, thorough and authoritative.