Singer Songwriter John Martyn Dies…

Singer Songwriter John Martyn Dies Aged 60.

THE RENOWNED singer songwriter John Martyn has died aged 60.

The musician, who had lived in Kilkenny for a number of years, died yesterday, a message on his official website said. “With heavy heart and an unbearable sense of loss, we must announce that John died this morning,” the message said.

Over a 40-year career he released over 20 studio albums and collaborated with many leading musicians including Lee “Scratch” Perry, David Gilmour, Danny Thompson and Phil Collins. Martyn was born fain David McGeachy on September 11th, 1948 in New Malden, Surrey, the only son of two light opera singers. His early childhood was spent in Glasgow. He signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records in 1967 and his debut album, London Conversation was released that same year. Martyn’s 1973 album Solid Air, which included the song May You Never, became one of the best known albums of the 1970s. In 1999 the album was voted as one of the best chill-out albums of all time in Q magazine.

His 1980 album Grace and Danger, which dealt with the end of his marriage, was initially refused a release by label boss Blackwell who found it too openly revealing to release. He only relented following sustained pressure from Martyn.
“Every record I’ve made bad, good, or indifferent is totally autobiographical. I can look back when I hear a record and recall exactly what was going on. That’s how I write. That’s the only way I can write! Some people keep diaries, make records,” he said. Martyn’s drinking and drug use exacted a heavy cost on his health, which culminated in the loss of a leg to septicaemia in 2003.

To mark Martyn’s 60th birthday Island released a career-spanning 4CD boxed set, Ain’t No Saint last year. At the beginning of 2009 he was awarded an OBE.

Charlie Taylor
The Irish Times
30 January 2009