The British record producer and musician George Martin, who helped launched the Beatles on their way to world fame, has died aged 90. His career spanned more than six decades.
Martin's death was first announced in a tweet by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, and later confirmed by the music corporation Universal Music on Wednesday.
A report from Martin's manager quoted by the Press Association said the music producer died peacefully on Tuesday at his home.
George Martin signed the group for its first record contract in 1962. He then became extensively involved in most of the music the Beatles recorded over the next eight years and also contributed a number of the musical arrangements. These included the striking string quartet passages in the songs "Eleanor Rigby" and "Yesterday." His role in the band's success, which included playing the piano in some numbers, led to his often being named the "fifth Beatle."
He also worked with other major artists including Elton John, Celine Dion, Neil Sedaka and The King's Singers.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also gave his condolences on hearing of Martin's death.
'Most successful producer ever'
Martin was born on January 3, 1926, and received a knighthood in 1996. His career as a record producer began in 1950, after a time spent working for the BBC's classical music department.
He rose to become the head of EMI's Parlophone label in 1955, at the age of just 29.
Until his death, he continued to write music and work with music charities.
Martin has been 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 Great Britain alone.
His feelings on first hearing the Beatles in 1962 were mixed.
"I liked them as people apart from anything else and I was convinced that we had the makings of a hit group," he told the magazine Melody Maker in an interview."
However, he added: "As composers, they didn't rate. They hadn't shown me that they could write anything at all."
tj/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)