The deadline was fast approaching in March 1964 as The Beatles worked to complete the songs for the soundtrack of their hotly anticipated film debut, “A Hard Day’s Night.” Paul McCartney had brought in an uptempo new number called “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and the band’s run-throughs sounded strong, but up in the sound booth, producer George Martin wasn’t satisfied. The song needed tweaking, but he couldn’t put his finger on what exactly was needed.
Then it came to him: Instead of starting off with the first verse (“I’ll buy you a diamond ring, my friend, if it makes you feel all right…”), he instructed the group to open with the chorus, which was far more catchy and”radio-friendly.” He was right — the result was The Beatles’ third consecutive #1 song in the US in less than two months.
Martin, who passed away Tuesday at age 90, made an extraordinary impact on pop culture that was seismic but subtle. While other London-based record labels were unimpressed by The Beatles’ 1962 demo tapes and auditions, it was Martin who recognized the innate talent, charisma and potential of the four scruffy lads from Liverpool, signed them to EMI/Parlophone, and became the producer who oversaw the creation of the recordings that changed the face of popular music.