In 1977, Sir George fell in love with Montserrat and decided to build the ultimate get-away-from-it-all recording studio. Opened in 1979, AIR Studios Montserrat offered all of the technical facilities of its London predecessor, but with the advantages of an exotic location.
For more than a decade, AIR Montserrat played host to classic recording sessions by a who’s who of rock, including Dire Straits, The Police, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Ultravox, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Black Sabbath and Eric Clapton.
Then, in 1989, disaster struck when Montserrat was dealt a devastating blow by Hurricane Hugo which destroyed 90% of the island’s structures and brought the studio’s glittering story to an abrupt end.
Since the eruption George Martin has been raising funds to help the victims and families on the island. The first event was a star-studded event at London’s Royal Albert Hall featuring many artists who had previously recorded on the island including Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Elton John, Sting, Eric Clapton and Midge Ure. All the proceeds from the show went towards short-term relief for the islanders.
George’s second major initiative was to release five hundred limited edition lithographs of his score for the Beatles song ‘Yesterday’. Complete with mistakes and tea stains the lithographs are numbered and signed by Paul McCartney and George.
The lithograph sale raised more than $1.4million which helped fund the building of a new cultural and community centre for Montserrat and provided a much needed focal point to help the re-generation of the island.
Legendary producer of The Beatles, Academy Award-nominated composer, and founder of AIR Studios, George Martin is one of music’s most versatile and imaginative talents. He has produced a record-breaking 30 Number One singles in the UK and in his career to date has been awarded two Ivor Novello Awards and five Grammys.
George Martin entered the music industry in 1955. Five years later he became head of the Parlophone label at EMI. In 1962 he signed The Beatles to EMI and went on to produce every record they made until disbanding in 1970.
1969 saw the design and construction of AIR Studios in Central London. To be followed in the 70’s by its sister studio, AIR Monserrat and the creation of his music publishing company, George Martin Music.
George was appointed a CBE for his services to the music industry in the 1988 honours list. Then in 1991 relocated to the present AIR Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, a converted Victorian church in Hampstead. Here he continued his prolific and varied projects. His television documentary about the making of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album won a Palme d’Or at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. With a cast album of Peter Townshend’s Tommy he gained his fifth Grammy. He produced The Glory of Gershwin with Larry Adler in 1994 and in 1995 started work on the acclaimed Beatles Anthology.
In 1996 he was made a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. He then produced the ‘Music for Montserrat’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall with a line-up that included Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Sting and Elton John.
The 1998 album In My Life was his last ever studio recording. Featuring Robin Williams, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Celine Dion, Goldie Hawn, Jim Carrey and Sean Connery. He was awarded BPI Man of the Year, followed by an induction into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 for his outstanding contribution to music.
Although now officially retired, Sir George was the musical director for ‘Party at the Palace’ in 2002. Introducing the Queen on stage at the concert celebrating her Golden Jubilee. The concert featured Brian May, Brian Wilson, Ozzy Osbourne, Eric Clapton and Sir Paul McCartney.
On 8th February 2006, Sir George sold AIR Studios to Richard Boote, the owner and MD of Strongroom – a complex of recording and mixing studios in Shoreditch.
In 2006, Sir George and his son, Giles Martin, remixed 80 minutes of Beatles music for the Las Vegas stage performance “Love”, a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. A soundtrack album from the show was released that same year.
And in 2011 a 90-minute documentary feature film co-produced by the BBC Arena team, “Produced by George Martin”, aired to critical acclaim. It combined rare archive footage and new interviews with, among others, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff Beck, Cilla Black and Giles Martin.