‘Solid Air’ Folk Singer John Martyn Dies Aged 60

‘Solid Air’ folk singer John Martyn dies aged 60

Singer songwriter and guitarist John Martyn has died at the age of 60.

Martyn, who was born Iain David McGeachy, enjoyed a 40-year career in which he released 20 studio albums and worked with artists including Eric Clapton and Phil Collins.

The gravel voiced artist was widely regarded as one of the most innovative singer songwriters of his generation, fusing folk, blues, jazz and funk.

A statement on his website today said: “With heavy heart and unbearable sense of loss we must announce that John died this morning.”

In 1973, Martyn, who was born in New Malden, released Solid Air, the album that would make his name, and which became one of the defining British albums of the Seventies. Including Solid Air in a list of all time best albums, Q magazine said Martyn had achieved the impossible by making “a quiveringly sexy folk record”. He was awarded the lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards last year and was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.

He was a compelling if at times erratic live performer. Even after having his right leg amputated below the knee in 2003 after a cyst burst, he had continued to tour regularly. He spent much of his youth in Glasgow following the divorce of his opera singer parents. He came to London in his late teens where he became a fixture of Soho folk club Les Cousins. In 1968, he was the first white act to sign to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records. He battled with drink and drugs throughout his life, especially after the break-up of his marriage to Beverley Kutner, who was also his musical collaborator, at the end of the Seventies.

Ed Harris
The Evening Standard
29 January 2009