Author:Womack, Kenneth

IT WAS WEDNESDAY, June 6, 1962, and George Martin was flummoxed. For the most part, it had been a fairly quiet day in the life of the Parlophone A&R man, who, at age 36, had become inured to working "artists and repertoire." On most days, he navigated a breakneck schedule of back-to-back meetings and recording sessions--one after another and often from dawn until well after dusk.

Today, though, was relaxed by comparison, quiet even. Martin had taken a morning meeting with David Plate, a music publisher with whom he shared several ongoing business interests. They were natural collaborators, being two thirty-somethings having made their names on the London music scene as young execs on the rise.

After lunch, Martin's afternoon had been devoted to his hilarious mates from Beyond the Fringe. Together, Martin and the comedy troupe had struck gold after he recorded their stage act on one of EMI's mobile units back in 1961. Under Martin's supervision, Parlophone enjoyed a hit record with the zany quartet of Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, and Dudley Moore--and the future looked even more promising for Martin's clients, who were set to open "Beyond the Fringe" on Broadway in just a few months.

For Martin, good old British comedy had proven to be his salvation, saving his beleaguered record label in the bargain, but what he really wanted, truth be told, was to handle a beat group. He absolutely was driven by the notion of landing a rock combo, ferreting out hit songs for them, and generating one chart-topper after another. In his heart of hearts, what he longed for most was something along the lines of Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the beat music wunderkinds who recorded for Nome Paramor, Martin's opposite number with EMI's Columbia imprint.

Martin was incredibly jealous of Paramor, especially since the Columbia A&R man had scored one chart sensation after another with Richard, who had emerged as Paramor's apparently unstoppable hit-making vehicle. That is what Martin wanted all right--to develop a beat music juggernaut to rival Paramor's and enjoy the good life for a change. Who wouldn't? It was well known around the EMI corridors that Paramor tooled around the city in his brand-new [epsilon]-Type Jaguar--when he was not driving his sports car out to his seaside place on the Sussex coast, that is. Oh, Martin definitely wanted a Jag, of that he was certain.

After a dinner break, Martin made his way to Abbey Road with Ron Richards, his...

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