When George Martin passed away on March 8, 2016, it was a major story. He died at age 90 and, while the actual cause still hasn’t been released, what is known is that he died in his sleep — so natural causes is assumed.
Anyone who knows anything about the history of rock music gets that Martin’s legacy is enormous. He signed the Beatles to EMI when others dismissed the group as having no salable potential. He taught them all about recording techniques, spurring their own creativity and elevating the quality of their recordings. He brought his own musicianship to the Beatles’ output, taking them well beyond guitars and drums.
In short, his passing was big news. Or one would assume so. But it turns out that wasn’t the case for a certain publication that is supposed to be about entertainment information.
Upon learning of Martin’s death, I visited ew.com to see what they had to say about it. That is the web site for the publication Entertainment Weekly. I was stunned that I could find no big news items on their home page. At the top, I did see a small item listed amongst others about people we lost in 2016, with a picture of George Martin. I checked the music section and didn’t find anything there. I later found this article, but I have no idea of where the link was placed. It certainly wasn’t listed as a headline item that Martin’s passing certainly deserved.
Even though I was disappointed and even confused that EW’s web site didn’t consider George Martin’s passing, as a longtime subscriber to their print edition I was confident there would be something substantial there. Or so I thought.
When I received the March 11 issue — one of their “Collectors’ Editions” released with two covers touting “Batman vs Superman” — I figured that the magazine had probably already been sent to print, too late to include even a “breaking” item about Martin’s death. I went through that issue and wasn’t surprised that I didn’t find anything, thinking that this big item surely would have addressed it in the next issue. The subsequent issue was dated March 25, with talk show host James Condon on the cover. (As with the one before, it was considered a double issue as there was no issue for March 17.) I combed each and every page, confident that I would find something — anything — about George Martin’s passing.
I didn’t. I went through the entire issue many times carefully, thinking at the least maybe I missed a tiny mention on “Bullseye,” the feature on the last page that is a kind of random notes about recent news. Martin’s death didn’t even rate a mention there.
By the time I received the April 1 issue (another double “Collectors’ Edition” issue featuring HBO’s Game of Thrones), I was giving the publication one last chance. But the only George Martin featured was Games author George R.R. Martin, and even then there was no mention that fans of the show were alarmed upon hearing the news of the Beatles producer’s passing — believing it was the show’s creator. As by this time the Beatles’ producer’s passing was no longer timely, it seemed a long shot that future issues would say anything about it. The April 15 issue with The Gilmore Girls on the cover sadly confirmed this.
As a longtime proponent of progressive rock, I’ve been critical of major entertainment publications ignoring big stories about items related to that genre. I wrote an article for Something Else! on September 14, 2014 titled “It’s time for prog fans to forgive Rolling Stone magazine.” In retrospect, RS can only be partially forgiven: though its print edition would continue to ignore any news regarding prog, rollingstone.com was rectifying that in spades. When Yes’ Chris Squire passed away, RS online reported it as a major news item. The same with the recent death of keyboardist Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake and Palmer. Those two news items spawned online features centered around the music of those influential performers — not surprising as the online edition has the advantage of including links to relevant video.
In comparison, Entertainment Weekly mentioned nothing about Squire or Emerson online or in print. But that’s prog, and though that is still inexcusable in the realm of major rock news (I’ll have a few choice words about that in a future column) in this case George Martin’s contribution to rock history transcends genre. For a magazine that is supposed to cover the world of entertainment, it does a thorough job when it comes to movies and TV. Its focus on music is much more narrow, and it’s inconceivable that while the public receives constant barrages of articles on the likes of Taylor Swift and Kanye West, Entertainment Weekly‘s ignoring George Martin’s passing — and with it, his legacy — is insulting to Martin, the Beatles, and anyone interested in actual major music news. (And that’s not a slight on Swift or West; it’s akin to covering blockbusters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and ignoring more modest productions like Room.)
But this doesn’t have to continue. If you feel as strongly as I do about this travesty, send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org letting them know. While there is no longer a letters section. that email address appears to be active. Put their editor and staff in the hot seat for essentially thumbing their nose specifically to George Martin’s passing, and to the history of rock music in general.
The message they’ve been sending is, “Who cares?” Compose and email that message now, letting them know that you do.
©2016 Mike Tiano. All Rights Reserved.
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