Off The Beaten Track: Will The Real John Martyn Please Stand Up?
HERE were many embarrassing moments in my journalistic career, and some still have the capacity to make me cringe. One such came on a Sunday in 1976, at the July Wakes Festival. It was held at a site named Park Hall, adjacent to Charnock Richard services on the M6, which in the 1980s would become the Camelot theme park before being abandoned in 2012.
I was there to see Bert Jansch and John Martyn, the latter being top of the bill. Surveying the crowd basking in the sunshine (it was one of the hottest summers on record), I saw to my amazement that the bearded Martyn was actually sitting in the crowd on the grass watching whoever was then on stage (possibly Five Hand Reel). I wasted no time in approaching him, identifying myself and asking if he was up for an interview.
He looked a bit reluctant but said OK, so I engaged in an anodyne conversation to loosen him up before coming in with some killer questions. I was surprised how boring he seemed, but was nevertheless excited to be speaking to a living legend. After a few difficult minutes, I said: ‘And what time are you on, John?’
‘On what?’ came the reply. ‘And why are you calling me John? My name is Clive.’
He wasn’t John Martyn, of course, just a bloke with a beard. And when the real JM took to the stage, I realised they didn’t look like each other at all.