Sir George Martin tells of devastation when John told him he wanted to re-record everything Fab Four had ever done

John Lennon and George Martin

Beat it: Lennon at work with Martin

Beatles producer Sir George Martin remains intensely proud of his work with the Fab Four – but remembers how upset he was when John Lennon said he wanted to re-record everything they’d ever done.

The desk-jockey gave the band their big break in 1962 after every other label they’d approached refused them. He remained with them until their final days eight years later, but he can’t forget the moment Lennon offended him.

Martin tells the Independent: “I said to John, ‘I can’t believe that. Think of all we’ve done, and you want to re-record everything?’ He said, ‘Yeah, everything.’ And I said, ‘What about Strawberry Fields?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Especially Strawberry Fields.’

“I was very disappointed with that. If he felt that way about it, he should have recorded the bloody thing himself.”

The 85-year-old says he remains astonished at the quality of work the band churned out, but he can never think of them the same way fans do.

“I recognise now, looking back, there was quite a dividing line then. But the Beatles aren’t the Beatles to me they way they are to someone in the street. They’re four people I knew very well, and two of them are still living, so it’s not the big icon everybody talks about.”

In fact, Martin is glad he doesn’t have to live his life as a fully-fledged member of the band: “They’re the biggest thing ever. I don’t want to be any more famous than I am. Would you like to be Paul McCartney? I wouldn’t. That’s the last thing I’d like.”

And to this day the producer plays a little politics when asked to choose a favourite track from the Beatles’ catalogue. “If I ever give an answer, I take it into Paul and John territory.

“If it’s Paul I’ll say Here There and Everywhere. If it’s John, Strawberry Fields.”

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