I recently read an obituary about a man called George.
When he was seventeen, George was flying torpedo bombers from aircraft carriers.
After the war, he got a job on a small record label producing classical music.
But the classical records didn’t sell well, so to make money they began producing comedy records.
George began working with Peter Sellers, then The Goons with Spike Milligan.
He found a lot of crazy sound effects were needed in these comedy records, and in those days there were no computers, everything had to be done by hand.
So he would cut the tape up, or run it backwards, or slow it down or speed it up, whatever it took to achieve the sounds he had in his head.
His sound effects made the comedy records much funnier and soon all the comedy greats wanted to work with him.
For Bernard Cribbins, George produced “Right Said Fred”.
For Peter Cook and Dudley Moore he made “Beyond the Fringe”.
He was so successful he decided to expand into pop music.
But the groups he auditioned weren’t very good.
Most had already been turned down by bigger studios.
Then along came one group he decided to take a chance on.
Not because of their music, he didn’t think much of that.
But because they were funny, they made him laugh.
And he knew he could work with people who didn’t take themselves too seriously.
Together they would experiment, try new things.
He sped up their second record and it got to number one.
And after that, he used everything he’d learned producing comedy records on their music.
And together George and the group would experiment.
Cutting tapes up, running them backwards, speeding them up, slowing them down, always trying new things.
He speeded up a piano until it sounded like a harpsichord.
He used a tape of seagulls played backwards.
He played an organ and looped the tape so it kept repeating.
And every record they made got to number one.
Every single and every LP.
And they became the biggest pop group in history.
They were of course The Beatles and the producer was George Martin.
He became known as the fifth Beatle because of everything he brought to their records.
Everything he’d learned from comedy records.
What George had learned producing comedy records was not to take yourself too seriously.
What he recognised in The Beatles was they didn’t take themselves too seriously.
When you don’t take yourself too seriously you’re not worried about what other people think.
You’re free to experiment, free to try new things, free to go places other people won’t go.
Other people who worry too much about doing the right things.
When you don’t take yourself, or anyone else, too seriously you’re free to be different.