John Martyn Dies

John Martyn dies. Tributes begin for folker John Martyn who has passed away aged 60.

The legendary singer-songwriter and a founder of the British folk scene has died.

A post on John Martyn’s official site reads: “With heavy heart and an unbearable sense of loss we must announce that John died this morning.”

The cause is not yet known.

The Surrey born musician was born in 1948 and throughout his career worked with the likes of Nick Drake, Lee Scratch Perry and played with Phil Collins. The prolific songwriter, real name Ian David McGeachy, released his latest offering, Ain’t No Saint, in September 2008.

His music unites blues, folk, dub and funk and bands like U2 and Portishead have cited him as an influence.”I think a lot of people love what he does. He’s just one of those one offs.” Phil Collins.

After picking up the Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards last year – the singer told 6 Music he hoped he still had plenty more music to make: “I will continue. I will die in harness dear boy. I don’t feel like giving in at all or giving up. I want to frolic and play for a wee long while yet.”

The Genesis frontman and solo artist, Phil Collins, played drums and sang backing vocals on Grace and Danger and later played drums and produced Martyn’s record Glorious Fool.

Speaking about Martyn, Collins said: “He’s just his own guy and because he’s been so single minded throughout his whole career, he’s earned a lot of respect and fear and he’s stuck with it. I think a lot of people love what he does. He’s just one of those one offs.”

On 31st December 08, Martyn was appointed an OBE in the New Year Honours.

He recorded his landmark album Solid Air in 1973 and had problems with drugs and alcohol throughout his career.

The Kinks front man, Ray Davies, described Martyn, who recorded at his Konk Studios, as an “innovator”.

“He was a great, great performer. I was always struck by his stage presence and the way he put his music across. He did a lot of his own stuff; but he also interpreted other work. The great interpreters turn it in to their own music and it’s just very sad. One of my heroes.”

‘Hell raiser’

John Martyn appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test several times when it was presented by Radio 2’s Bob Harris.

He told us why the musician has such a legendary status: “He is up there with the most respected.”

“We’ll talk about the strength of the songs and touch on the imaginative and innovative use of guitar, the way that he played, the way that he created these rhythms, these walls of sound, samples before they were samples.

“People were in awe of that. The Solid Air album was the start, the pointer to this direction.” The presenter also spoke about the way Martyn commanded the stage when he performed: “He was a very strong, confrontational person and this would be the case when he was on stage. “There was a crust of violence around him at certain times in his life, particularly in the mid-70s, where he had a reputation as an absolute hell raiser. There was an unattractive aspect to that because violence did figure quite strongly in his life, but as a music figure he was so respected.”

BBC6 Website
29 January 2009

More tributes

“Ah so sad… passing of a soul legend – was extremely lucky and blessed to have worked with him – he really was one of my heroes and a truly great musician, not to mention raconteur! Glad we had a chance to rock the dance floor together, and introduce him to a new generation who may never have got the chance to hear his extraordinary voice otherwise.”
Sister Bliss

“I feel very empty and I can’t stop shaking and it’s very difficult to talk to anyone without cracking…but. I ‘Bless The Weather that sent him to me’…a line from his song…also the man that wrote, ‘You curl around me like a fern in the Spring’, shows us the real person inside and one I will always love and miss having a cuddle and also a ruck with him again.  Thank God for our time in NYC last year and we had a play together too, must have been written.  Bless the weather that brought Theresa to John, her love and dedication allowed John to live his dream. There is no greater love.  May God reward him with His blessing.”
Danny Thompson

Glynn Field Glasgow
condolences to Theresa, Johns kids and the dog. I will miss you Big Muff

Lenny H, Cardiff
…wish i known of his music before

Denny, Sunderland
You made my life richer in every sense John Your music inspired me and of course we made money from it together. I will miss you and your potential music at least i have your records and memories.Youre in good company with me mam now. Love and light Denny.

John Adams, London
Thanks for the music, John. After many years of ill health you are no longer suffering but you left a great legacy behind on your records that will live for many many years. Condolences to John’s family.

Martin, Liverpool
I met John Martyn in Liverpool, 2008. Ironically, John and Danny Thompson had both played Liverpool that night, John with Bill Wyman and Danny on the final gig of the Pentangle reunion tour.John came into the Philhamonic pub for a quick drink before going to see Danny. Johns partner pushed Johns chair into a quiet corner were my friend and I were drinking. We’d met him before but didn’t expect him to remember us. Our greeting of ” Hello John” brought the response, “How do you know my name?” His partner returned and as she pushed the John towards the exit, he turned back, saluted us and shouted “Goodbye Girls!” That was the last time I saw John Martyn. His music and spirit will live. God bless you big man.

Paul, Redhill
Such sad news. John seems to have been with me all my life, going back to the first album I discovered in 1970 – Bless the Weather – when I was 16. I went on to buy everything new he produced.I’m very grateful to have had the chance to see him one last time in Brighton on the Grace and Danger tour last November. Even though he had to be helped onto the stage in his wheelchair, he still brought the same energy to that gig as he did to the first one I saw 35 years ago.Thanks for all the music John – I’m glad you had a life well lived.

Edgar Trestrail in Aberdeen, Scotland
John was so many things to so many people for a long span of years.It is sad that he has died, but it was a life full enough for more than one. His legacy is the live performances, his back catalogue, and the knowledge that he touched so many over the years from 1968 to 2009 with his music.It is inevitable that his generation grow old and leave us, but it is better to live to the full for 60 years like John did, rather than fade into obscurity and die unremembered like Syd Barrett.Another John (Mellanchamp) wrote a song on looking back at his life and asked for forgiveness. He wrote when I think of all the wrong I´ve done I can’t belive it’s me I’m talking about, I bet the same goes for You.God bless you Iain David McGeachy and thank you for all you have given, and with your passing lets celebrate what was good and forgive the things that we would rather not have memories of.

John And Jane, Stoke Newington
John Martyn has been part of my life – he seemed to reflect and give a voice to those elemental feelings at the best and worst times in your life.My mate Ed reccommended Solid Air – at school – I first saw him at Cambridge Folk Festival approx 1980 – with Danny Thompson – a few times in between – and the last time in July 2000 – a birthday from my partner Jane.He always gave more than a performance – always felt like it was a personal event for the whole audience – even when he walked off stage in a temper ( Cropredy @ 1985).Very sad – but we will still have the music

Steve Hull
For me, quite simply, the best singer song-writer this island has produced: beautiful songs, beautiful voice and beautiful guitar playing, with a unique sound and a great partner in Danny Thompson, and, early on, Beverley Martin.

One of the times I saw John Martyn was in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh in the 80’s. Was with a new boyfriend who had never heard of him and looked shocked throughout the gig at John’s swearing. Needless to say he was quickly given the heave!

Matt Enfield
John’s music has been a good friend to me for over 20 years. It has been there during many of the good times and helped through the bad. It has uplifted and comforted. I have seen John play live many times over the years and sometimes he was just OK, but then, when he was good, oh boy, oh boy… there was nothing like it. Truly wonderful, beautiful and utterly amazing. I’m sure he could be a difficult sod at times but he made some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Thank you John RIP

Kathleen ,Norwich & Ireland
Ah , such a loss !Hope he is at peace !I shed tear when I heard he had died !Loved the music , Slainte , Kathleen Norwich & Ireland

Jane Easton, Bristol
I first saw John Martyn at Glasgow City Hall in ’73 or ’74, at the age of 19. I was already a fan, thanks to Solid Air, and he (and Danny Thompson) just blew me away. Astonishing musicianship. And his humour and inability to suffer fools gladly too… An overenthusiastic fan kept heckling John, who was initially very patient, until (after trying to start a song three times in a row) finally snapped. ‘See you, son, when god gave you a mouth he ruined a perfectly good ****hole’. The audience howled, the fan shut up – and then Martyn segued effortlessly into ‘May You Never’ – the audience roared again at the irony of the riposte next to such peace & love lyrics! What a man, he was part of the soundtrack of my youth and later years. A caner par excellence with a self-destruct button yet with the heart of a child. Bless him; the world would have been a poorer place without his music.

Lindsey Jones
Johnny, too bad you’re gone…A tumbler, an apprentice,Grace and danger, a stormbringer and a sweet little mystery, too.Today my mind is inside out and I feel like a glorious fool.You still shine like a sapphire, too long a well kept secret.Like a Glasgow walker on the cobbles in the wee small hours.Piece by piece you led us along the road to ruinAnd it’s a well kept secret that the hurt in your heart, could turn you inside out.Then glistening Glyndeborne would wash over you like a cooltide.Solid air, like the sound of the church with one bell,Celebrating the joy of our one world.Bless the weather that brought you to me…Curse the storm that took you away…Like Sunday’s child, I couldn’t have loved you more.Rest easy, Big Man

Liz, Manchester
used to follow John round the north west when he was touring in the mid 80’s with my best mate Jane who introduced me to his beautiful music. Sadly when we bumped into him at Leeds Uni in a corridor backstage all we could do was go ‘oh wow – Hi John -we think you’re really great!’. Yep not the most stimulating comments but he took them well and we felt propa starstruck :-). His music can still reduces me to tears years later – or make me sing like a mad woman depending on my mood. Wish you’d stayed around longer John.

Richard Wakefield , Shaw
I once remembered a feature on Jonathan Ross radio 2 show ,where they discussed good tunes to play at a funeral .One of the choices was May you Never by John Martyn ,i,ve always loved this tune and when you listen to the words it is fitting for such an occasion .

daren sevenoks
live in leeds 74 ’nuff said

quigy, mold
bouhgt johns album solid air in 73. 36 yearsago still play it and will carry on playing it just evokes feeling soul and passion !know someone will always hold his hand.

Steve, Reading
A unique talent over four decades. A shining star in the age of “celebrity and talent”. His music will live on. May You Never.John RIP

Maggie Birmingham
I remember watching John in Birmingham when I was about 18. It was a magical concert for me and I absolutely fell in love with his music. Can’t believe he has gone…

Natalie, Manchester
Introduced to John about 7 years ago, one of those few occasions when you are both gutted that you’ve been missing out on such beautiful, moving music but also excited because you have stumbled across an absolute gem. Took my dad to see him at the Lowry in Salford 5 years ago, he was brilliant.

Cliff partridge Freshwater IOW
This man touch my heart every time I played the sweet sounds of his expressions of life. When ever I was privilege to see him perform I knew he meant it.PEACE AND LOVE JOHN. Cliff partridge

Baloo in Chingford
Came to John quite late and never had the chance to see him live, but his music just tugged at my heart and from that first day his songs have always been around. It’s a sad day, but like Peter Cook, John just jumped on that roller-coaster and enjoyed the ride. Hope he left with a huge smile on his his face and in his heart. God Bless Big man. Love ya

Graham, Southport
Lucky enough to get to two gigs, the 2nd cut short by police raid. Solid Air sits next to Dark Side and others that punctuate the passing of time as I am sure it does for many others. Memories fade but dreams live forever.

Jo Dakin Peterborough
So young to die – your music will live on forever. Head and Heart and May you Never will live on as classic love songs!! Missing you RIP lol xxxxx

Annie -Bray Ireland
I fell in love with John Martyn’s music the first time I heard Solid Air. I was fortune to see him in concert many times the best being when he was booked to play in a tiny venue in my home town on my birthday no less!! The organisers had no idea who he was and were suprised by the queues and queues outside. I magical night indeed. MAY YOU NEVER be forgotten John.

Neil, London
I’ve never understood how people can be so moved by the death of famous people that they’ve never met. Until today. John Martyn’s music touched my life in the most profound way. From London Conversation through to Sunday’s Child, his records are constant sources of inspiration, meditation and consolation. The depth of emotion that John could evoke was breathtaking, especially when you consider how much of a bruiser he was off-stage. John’s personality came as a huge shock to me when I finally saw footage of him performing. Here was a man of such musical tenderness, burping and swearing down the mic in-between songs. I was disappointed and confused for a long time after that. But now its all over, and feeling as upset as I do, it doesn’t seem to matter – bar room fighters have feelings too.

Jude and Pete, Chester
This is a dear John letter.I know ABBA said it, but ‘thank you for the music’. From turning us ‘inside out’ to your mellower, less ‘hellraising days’ we have loved you. Sometimes we listen to your music and think it contains all we need. Sometimes we listen to it smashed and know it contains all we need.You may not be there yet, but we know when you cross over the divide there’ll be soul-mates calling up all their friends and saying, come on over, John’s here. Come on over, gather together so we can make his night and make his day and hear him talk about the finest folk in town.Our dear friend, you have always been one of the finest folk in town. We hope when you laid your head down, you had a hand to hold.We keep you in our heart until we get a chance to meet you in the spirit. May those significant people you’ve left behind find comfort in the way you’ve touched other peoples lives. Trust that we will keep them in our thoughts.Respect, love, now and for always,Jude and Pete xxxxxxxx

The Bennetts Northumberland
No one could fail to be moved by the music of John Martyn. His inspirational guitar work and heart felt lyric. His music will always be a part of our lives.

Mark Killington Newmarket
Gonna miss you John.Grace and Danger,one of the greatest albums.

Ian Blenkinsop , Clitheroe , Lancs
One World is one of the most played albums in my collection and has been with me since it’s release.Some of the best gigs I have been to were his.I last saw him at Cropredy 2006 .Thanks John R.I.P

Gordon – Cumbernauld
Never got round to seeing him live until a few weeks ago when I saw him in Dublin. Simply outstanding musician. Simply peerless voice. Would have loved the chance to see him again.RIP big man.

Kim, Ayrshire
A sad day and the loss of a mega talented guy and an inspiration. John Martyn’s music has been in my life for the last 30 years and has never ceased to move me. Bless the weather that brought you.. curse the storm that takes you away. My condolences to his family and friends.

Angela, Stockport.
He will be sadly missed. John has been the soundtrack to my life with my Partner for the last 26 years. Give us a ring when you get there. xx

Gordon – Clarkston
Enriched from his albums and fortunate to have been at some of his concerts. Thanks and farewell to a musician.

John Manning, Stainforth
I met the big guy a few times and saw him play many more times, which must have been after his hell-raising years as he always came across asa gentle giant really – very friendly and accommodating, especially if he could mooch a couple of smokes to roll something, and blag a lift to a late-night bar! Musically he was one of our most creative creatives, unique in character and ability, and will be sorely missed.

julian, tiverton in devon
I saw him at Brangwyn Hall Swansea many years ago – he was performing alone and was fantastic. I recall at one point a guitar string snapped. He had no roadie – even though he was a big name at the time. He walked off stage – and re-appeared 5 minutes later explaining to the packed expectant audience that he had to go out to his van to get a replacement. He then carried on as if nothing had happened and was brilliant. A one off and a huge influence on other musicians.

julian, tiverton in devon
I saw him at Brangwyn Hall Swansea many years ago – he was performing alone and was fantastic. I recall at one point a guitar string point snapped. He had no roadie – even though he was a big name at the time. He walked off stage – and re-appeared 5 minutes later explaining to the packed expectant audience that he had to go out to his van to get a replacement. He then carried on as if nothing had happened and was brilliant. A one off and a huge influence on other musicians.

Frank Bury
A fantastic and influential singer, songwriter and guitarist. Absolutetly mesmeric live on a good night. Hopefully the album he was working on will be a worthy tribute to his genuis. Part of the soundscape of my life for 30 yrs. He’ll be missed!

Richard London
Goodbye John…Thank you so much…

Kris Swan
a hero.

jb ,shifnal
a very sad day.. the music will live on.

Richard Vickery .Hythe Hampshire
Jonny Boy has departed this mortal Coil,John you have left me with so many memories ,first hearing Inside out way back, seing you play in the Shetlands , I was recording the gig on my radio cassette recorder ,when the tape run out the radio came on automaticaly,whilst you were playing ,you just looked at me , and I died!!! ,whilst I tried to switch the recorder off. John I will miss you .Im going down the pub to have a drink for your Life, Peace..

fil – dudley
sad news..hearing it every other half hour on 6 music news…strange considering they never even play JM during the day at all!..bit like the music news on SOnic youth the other day..who does that appeal too? cos 6 music never plays the great sonic youth in the day….probaly be 6 months of 6 music mourning they day Lilly Allen snuffs it

Weird Sleeping Kittens – London
We are so sad to hear he has gone, he is one of our greatest influences and now we will never know what there was to come. Our hearts go out to all that loved him…

Tim Drake / Rochdale
Farewell then, Big Muff. You were a true one off, innovator, outstanding guitarist and musician. When my children were young, as well as the traditional bed-time songs I sung to them I also sung ‘Fairytale Lullaby’, and they both love it still. Shame I never heard him play it live though. RIP.

Ross Murdoch, Shepherds Bush
I remember my Dad playing me ‘I Couldn’t Love You More’ from the One World album about 8 years ago when I was 17, I borrowed the album and must have listened to that song 40 times that night – Incredible. So many great albums, wonderful vocals as well as unmatched ability and invention on the acoustic guitar. He’ll be sorely missed.

Lee , Arundel
Saw him in Brighton before Christmas. He looked terrible but was in good spirits and the performance was sublime. They dont make like that anymore.

Bill Beveridge, Burntisland, Fife.
A true gentleman, friends and I had the good fortune to share a McEwans Export with JM prior to Gig in Edinburgh, Odeon, in the 70’s. loveup Bill.

Seoras MacLeod – Tllicoultry
John was a unique talent who will be sorely missed, he followed his own path, always, not trends. He was a brilliant musician and song writer with a a self destructive streak which eventually shortened his life, GRACE and DANGER in one package, that was John.