One of the great lines of the year tumbled out of the film Glengarry Glen Ross as Ricky Roma was peddling real estate. Played by Al Pacino, the spidery Roma looked deep into the eyes of a diffident client and said that everyone worries about the past and the future. But no one lives for the moment. You can't say that about John Martyn, whose mysterious career is full of passionate moments.
The voice on the other end of the telephone line is most certainly John Martyn's. The soft Glaswegian accent and the dark timbre which is Martyn's trademark is there, yet he seemed strangely disconnected. Oh no, I immediately thought. It is well known that Martyn struggled with alcohol and many other substances for years, but I thought those days were behind him. So why the strange distance in his hello, I mean it was four in the afternoon, after all!
John Martyn charts the depths of an ever-flowing creative tide
A large contingent of the audience at tonight's secret gig in a north London student hall are clearly less than familiar with JOHN MARTYN - both the music and the man.
Jonathan Futrell meets John Martyn, a folk troubadour who is still one of Britain's best-kept secrets
Something strangely prophetic happened to the much younger John Martyn when he opened for Charles Mingus and Weather Report at The Bijou Club.
[Before interviewing JM, Nicky Campbell played a Prince track (Graffiti Bridge) and then reported that John had said that he would really like to hear Prince and Miles Davis working together. He then played a B52s record and started the interview...]
NC: John Martyn, you're here!
JM: Yes indeed I am (very Scottish accent).
NC: That was a long flight, wasn't it?
..they don't write 'em like that anymore
It's been over two years since his last record, but JOHN MARTYN has returned to the fray with a critically acclaimed album. He talks to Simon Jones, explains his absence, and is evidently still recovering from post punk depression.
"I am John Wayne.."
The figure centre-stage flails around in the spotlight, the music building to an almost deafening crescendo. The head rolls back, the face contorts into an almost pained expression as the microphone comes close.
Jazz, blues, funk, soul, rock - or none of the above? As always, the music of John Martyn denies simple categorisation... Interview by Rick Batey.
John Martyn is looking positively perky. This is probably not unconnected with the fact that a three-year struggle to get his twentieth album off the ground has finally come to an end. The Apprentice is released in April*) on a brand-new label, Permanent Records...
Sober, wiser, more than a little weather-beaten, John Martyn has survived 20 turbulent booze-fuelled years pursuing a romantic image of the lone folk troubadour. But the 'rebel stand' is still firmly intact, as Mark Cooper discovers.
JOHN MARTYN - LIVING ON LOVE
Back with a new album, THE APPRENTICE, and touring now to promote it is John Martyn. He's long been an admired and well respected musician on the British scene and he's the proud owner of a back catalogue of albums that are testament to his innovation, imagination and sheer popularity. From the release of his first album LONDON CONVERSATION way back in 1968 [actually 1967 ed.] to now, he's maintained a loyal following, who've witnessed his style changes over the years. For a long time he was associated with Island Records, now he's out on Permanent Records. Based back in Scotland, the new album shows he's no apprentice! ZIP CODE grabbed the chance to speak to a relaxed and affable John Martyn recently.
If names like Kate Bush, David Sylvian, Everything But The Girl, ABC and Julian Cope conjure up the vision of some kind of Status-toting hotshot somewhere in his mid-twenties, think again. Danny Thompson began as a tea-chest player in a skiffle band, with Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy among his earliest influences. He moved on to play with the biggest names in British jazz in the late '50s and mid-'60s -Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott- then joined Alexis Korner's enormously influential Blues Incorporated. He backed blues giants like Little Walter, John Lee Hooker and Sonny Terry, and rounded off the decade by becoming a vital part of the folk-rock movement; that was Pentangle, of course, who subsequently made six albums in their seven-year lifespan.