Inside Move: Creative waters beckon Beatle maven

Martin interested in 'business consultation'

LONDON — Nearly five years ago, Sir George Martin said he was retiring and wanted to spend his time sailing (Variety, Sept. 4, 1998). Well, he’s hardly stopped working, but he is hitting the high seas.

Martin’s interest in what might be called “business consultation” has led him to the seemingly incongruous activity that he’s prepping for: a cruise ship marketing and human resources event at which he’s speaking with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Yep, the Fifth Beatle and Stormin’ Normin’ addressing the biz troops.

Martin’s closing address at the Marketing and Human Resources Forums (May 7-10), held by Richmond Events aboard the Adonia out of New York, is titled “Cultivating Creativity in the Workplace.”

The subject inevitably leads to a query about keeping the famously competitive Paul McCartney and John Lennon on a productive path for almost 10 — often-tense — years.

“I just saw Paul last night,” says Martin, who quickly shares the secret of “cultivating creativity” with two geniuses: “They climbed on each other’s shoulders to get better and better. They were incredibly competitive and that made each of them work harder.”

Since McCartney recently made headlines by reversing the “Lennon-McCartney” credit on songs he wrote solely or primarily, doesn’t that indicate the competition didn’t end with Lennon’s untimely death?

“I can tell you that is absolutely true,” says Martin. “Paul misses John and misses that competition every day.”

While Martin may claim disinterest in the filthy lucre side of the recording business, Air Lyndhurst — Martin’s famed recording facility — is a lively and key part of the London scene.

“Chicago,” “Die Another Day,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” “25th Hour” and “Gods and Generals” are just a few of recent clients that have scored at Air.

Close to his heart is his drive to raise $2.5 million to build a cultural center on his beloved island haunt, Montserrat, where his other Air recording facility was wiped out by hurricane many years ago.

Typical of Martin’s unabated energy, the 77-year-old says, “I got to the point where I knew we needed another million, so I decided it was time to start selling things.”

The result was the issuance of 500 limited-edition lithographs of the original score for the Beatles’ “Yesterday” session, signed by McCartney and Martin. When the first one went on auction, says a beaming Martin, “it went for $33,000 and I delivered it myself to the gentleman in Cleveland who bought it. “

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