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You are not the only one with Big John's disease...

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Hi. I have been looking on your site to check some dates of old concerts I went to see John Martyn - Leeds University and Putney Half Moon. I found them which was great.
I thought you may want to include another performance that is missing from the list. I went to Cecil Sharp House in Camden to see something called 'Concert for Perform' on Saturday 28 February 1981. To be honest I don’t remember what the 'Perform' bit referred to - I imagine it was a musicians charity but don’t know. Anyhow, Cecil Sharp House is -as I’m sure you know- the HQ of the English Folk Song and Dance Society. I remember a small hall with a number of bands/ musicians through the day. I know this as I recorded bits of it on my old portable Philips cassette recorder on a TDK C90 which I came across the other day. I wrote on it the name of the groups performing as well as the date and I would have done that on the day pretty much. Other bands I recorded were in order - The Arizona Smoke Revue, John Martyn, The English Country Blues Band, The Watersons, Martin Simpson and June Tabor, Happy Traum. I can’t remember who else if any were there. It was a one day thing and a good real ale bar is all I remember.
The recording of John Martyn has Jelly Roll Baker and May You Never as well as a typical bit of JM comedy in between. I remember he wasn’t on long but don’t remember if he played anything else.
Cheers, Andrew

UK

I remember being at a John Martyn concert [unaccompanied, no backing musicians/ singers]. Think it was at the university but possibly the NOTTINGHAM Polytech. He was a bit nervy but in between drinking his beer, breaking a guitar string and talking in a nervously fidgety manner, he played and sang quite beautifully. I remember everyone was sat on the wooden floor, in not a very big venue/ room. Do you have anything on this gig at all?
Saw him many years later at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil in May 97. Said he was just getting over a bout of cold/ flu but was absolutely brilliant, vocals wonderful. Anyone else there that night would testify the same. Hope to hear from you.

UK

Hi, saw John at 1994-12-02 UK, Ashburton (Devon), Lanterns. Jason Feddy was the support act, and he played a few more gigs on that tour with John. Jason was successful in his own right and is now a Cantor, radio presenter and musician in California.

UK

Thanks, I made a note.

Although my memory of the seventies is patchy (for various reasons!) I remember seeing John at Leeds University in November 1979 - I remember it was snowing and the buses went off! It was a solo performance - and jolly splendid it was too! The Leeds University website has it recorded under Autumn term 1979/80 https://alumni.leeds.ac.uk/Live-at-Leeds

UK

Nice tip, this was 21 Nov 1979.. Will make a note and take a closer look at the archive page, too. They made one mistake, 13 Mar 1975 must be February.

John Martyn and Hamish Imlach both performed in The Glen [Carradale] at The Antares Memorial Concert, an evening that will take quite some beating. [The fishing boat Antares sank in the night of 21 November 1990 after it’s nets came in contact with a nuclear submarine, ed.] Gerry Singal who owned the Glen Bar and Restaurant got Hamish Imlach (a friend of his) and John Martyn to Carradale where they did a fantastic gig in the packed Glen, all in aid of the 'Antares Fund'. John broke off his tour to Spain to do this benefit gig.
Apart from the music, there was a surreal moment where a dead sheep wrapped in binliners was raffled while JM cradled it in his arms. Then Hamish crooned an impromptu blues about the sheep which had a call and response, which John then joined in with!

Kintyre Forum
Scotland

Iain McGeachy, alias John Martyn is from Dalintober fishing stock and if I remember correctly there is some background info on this in Angus Martin's book about Kilkerran Graveyard.
Back in the day, he used to come to Carradale for his holidays every year, sometimes with legendary double bassist Danny Thompson who featured on many of his classic albums and live shows. Strangely, they came on the service bus to go fishing, and one time famously, were getting a lift from Lochgilphead as some of the Crofters were up at a Dick Gaughan concert, so they ended up doing a floor-spot in Lochgilphead Folk Club. Apparently Dick was only too glad to lend JM his guitar and the Janny from the school was summoned to get a double bass for DT. When they were announced by the organiser, who still couldn't believe what was happening, Danny got up and said something like "The ******'s away for a fish supper" and proceeded to terrorise the audience with a performance of the legendary Haitian War Dance [Haitian Fight Song by Charles Mingus, ed] he used to perform with the Pentangle!

Kintyre Forum
Scotland

You have missed out a gig at Battersea Town Hall, somewhere in the Summer of 76/77. Definitely around the release of One World. Opening act was Stan Tracey, doing Under Milk Wood. John was doing a benefit for Danny Thompson, who apparently had had a heart attack (although rumour has it he was compering the Cambridge Folk Festival at the time). The concert was called F.M.O.B. Fond Memories of Battersea, where Danny was in a Dr Barnardos Home. John renamed it Fuck My Old Boots.

Now I come to think of it, this was the first time I heard Small Hours and One World and Big Muff, so I guess it must have been before the release. It was the upstairs of Battersea Town Hall. Can't have been more than a hundred people.

Naturally the amplifier screwed up. Is there an engineer in the audience? After much cursing from John, one was found. While John was provided with various 'gifts' from the audience, playing resumed and we were treated to an amazing, chest reverberating, One World.

I think this has to be my fave concert. I reminded John about it when he was over here in New York in 1998. I think he remembered!

Brooklyn, New York
USA

The concert was 30 July 1977. This comment was e-mailed July 1999 but somehow missed to be included here.

In 1971/ 1972 I was Social Secretary at Brighton Poly. John did a solo gig at the Friday Night Club. If memory serves me it was during February 1972. He was outstanding and everyone had an excellent time.

UK

[When Live At Leeds was sold by mailorder] I worked with Beverley. Packaging and mailing records, visits to the post office 3 times a day. For anyone that is interested, I sat in on the Inside Out recordings where I did the album art which was used in the gatefold cover. A real honour and extraordinary pleasure hanging out with such legendary artists.
I was his roadie for those dates and then went to Europe with him. It was an eye opener and great fun. We know what an original John was and to see him recording with Steve Winwood, Chris Wood (Traffic), Bobby Keyes, Remi Kebaka (Traffic) and Danny Thompson was a dream come true to me. I will never forget it.

Hastings
UK

A couple of things are not right, I know because I was present at the gig of 3-11-1991 at Tivoli Utrecht. Support act was Calvin Russell but John didn't want to play after Calvin so John opened first. I was there and there was no pulling the plug. Had a chat with him after the show, his son was also there.

Netherlands

From your concert listing:
1982-10-23 UK, London, Hammersmith Odeon (perhaps Dominion). With band, supporting act Any Trouble. "Extra show by public demand." Tickets £3.50-£4.50.
This gig was at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road, London - I was there and remember Any Trouble was supporting John and his band. I taped both artists although unfortunately my tapes have since been lost.

UK

I can add one gig to John Martyn's history. While supporting YES on tour in 1974, he played on March 2nd, 1974 at the Louisville Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky. It was my first-ever YES concert... and my birthday. That YES concert was a magical night. I doubt anyone in the audience had even heard of John Martyn. He was the perfect opening to the evening.

US

He definitely did two gigs in Les Cousins post the Central London Poly gig with Loudon Wainwright III [30 October 1971, ed.]. I know because I was there for both, and the first time I ever saw him was by chance when I went to the Loudon gig. The first one was possibly still in 1971 but more likely in 1972. The second one was on the closing night when Les Cousins closed its doors for the last time [April 1972, ed.]. That night he was in a seriously, in earnest, awesome, riveting mood to play out Les Cousins. That night was simply, amazing... I remember it well. I was 16 years young at the time and I nearly missed the last tube on the nearby Northern Line, the gig ran on so late. Just got there in time, by shear luck - phew! I had no clear idea at what time the last tube left Tottenham Court Road. All I knew was that No Way was I leaving Les Cousins before the end...

Ireland

John played at Birmingham University Students Union in the Christmas term 1970. This would therefore be between early October and mid-December. Your gig guide has massive holes for late 1970 - I hope you can find more details about this gig, so you can fill at least one!

UK

I saw John, with Danny Thompson, at the Woughton Centre, Milton Keynes, in 1986 (it could possibly have been early 1987, but I don't think so). It was a seated gig, with no support, probably a warm-up. The material was very similar to the German concert CD release from that time. Any clues as to the exact date?

UK

Hi - only just discovered your wonderful site. Brilliant. BUT I have a problem - probably of my memory! I went to see JM and full electric band at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester in the early 80's and take this to be either the 23/10/81 or 20/09/82 gig. I even got back to the after gig 'party' as I was with Susie Stockton from the pro-folk organisation 'Perform', who knew him. It was a bit flat afterwards and he was keen to know if I'd enjoyed the gig. I said I had but it was actually a real disappointment - hardly any of the subtlety and jazzy-folky feel I had loved at previous gigs in the 70's.
My recollection is that his record company (Island? WB?) were trying to break him as a major rock act and it just wasn't happening. The nadir for me was a song with a repeated word ('Brazil'?) as the hook. However -and this is really the point of my query!- I then went a few years later to see him and it remains one of the very best gigs I ever went to - a real return to his very best with all the classics. But as for details, 30 years later I can only assume my memory is lacking as I can't see it on the gig list. I thought it was a trio with Danny Thompson and a black guy on percussion and it was at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and that it was in the middle-ish 1980's. I also thought I'd been told that he was broke and was doing these almost unofficially to get some cash together. Any help? Whatever the actual facts, it was a totally brilliant gig!

UK

I was very interested in your comment about the Amsterdam, Paradiso gig in May 1983. I was the drummer for Well Brian who was support that night. I lost touch with the band when I left for Scotland in 1982. Would you by any chance have any info about the singers name or a way to contact them again? The singer/ writer was Bas Ebble though that's probably not how it was spelled. As I am Scottish, you will understand Dutch wasn't my fist language.

Kirriemuir
Scotland

Hi Gavin, being a fan of John Martyn I came across your comment by accident. I was a guitar pupil of the Well Brian guitarist Rob van Duuren in those early 80s days and saw the band perform quite a few times. Also still have the single, Miracle Of Love. I do remember them having a Scottish drummer at the time so that must have been you! I once took some pictures at a show in the open air theatre in Bloemendaal: https://www.facebook.com/victorschiferli/media_set?set=a.3279935760674&t.... Rob and also the singer, who is called Bas Eblé, are on Facebook, the latter as "Bastien Eble".

Middelie
Nederland

Hi, I'm curious about a gig which I saw in Canterbury - circa 1978/79? I'm very sure about the gig as I hitched down there from Lincoln Art College with a friend and stayed with my brother (who was at Kent/Canterbury Uni). What made the gig so special was that he'd invited Steve Tilston to play the first set, someone I'd just discovered a few months earlier - he'd just brought out Songs From The Dress Rehearsal I think? After Steve Tilston, John played a first set solo and then brought on a band to play a few tunes 'from a forthcoming album'! I don't know the members of the band, but it was -I think- just bass, guitar and drums, although I may have forgotten someone I'm almost sure there was no keyboards.
Thanks in advance for any info.

UK

One entry in the giglist looks interesting: 1977-02-11 UK, Canterbury, Kent University. "Kent Ents '77 presents | John Martyn | + Guest support | at the Odeon, Friars, Canterbury | Friday February 11 at 8pm." This ties in well with the release year of Songs From The Dress Rehearsal (1977). And the upcoming album must have been One World of course.

I have never seen so much passion, or feeling put into music by any other performer, I still cry when I see him singing in his wheel chair.

Liverpool
United Kingdom