Probably the most decisive influence on developing acoustic guitarists on the folk scene these days is a young Glaswegian who hasn't played the folk circuit himself for many months. But although John Martyn is now established quite firmly as an electric rock player, his style and his unique approach to the acoustic guitar have spawned a whole generation of imitators. It is virtually impossible to spend an evening in any but the most traditionally-oriented clubs without seeing at least one guitarist trying to achieve the rhythmic pungency and explosive dynamics which are the Martyn trademarks. And though John's career has led him away from the clubs, his spirit is as dominant now as that of, say, Bert Jansch or Davy Graham in the late sixties.
John Martyn/ Southampton
"NICE TO see ya," cried the exuberant John Martyn in between yet another pint of cloudy beer. "To see ya nice," was the spontaneous reply. And indeed it was.
With the preliminaries over John began the task of stimulating the semi-conscious audience. This was achieved successfully with help from nimble-fingered double bass player Danny Thompson, whose musical reflexes suggested he was having multiple orgasms.
bard bon-viveur bullshitter doper entertainer explorer guitarist hero hobo legend lover minstrel musician pathfinder performer picker pioneer pissartist player poet raconteur rambler rhymer romancer singer songwriter talker thinker tripper troubadour trouper trucker tumbler virtuoso wayfarer - and lots of other things too
TWO comments made in the past by John Martyn, who appears on the Yes bill, have defined his work as well as any lengthy analysis.
Firstly, when talking about 'Head And Heart', a track from Bless The Weather, his third album, John said: "I am somewhere in the balance between them." 1) In other words Martyn aims to nourish both the cerebral and the emotional man.
John has contributed to Music Alive, a Schools TV programme made by ILEA-TV that ran in 1973 and 1974. It also featured Frank Zappa, Kevin Coyne and Artemis.
ILEA stands for Inner London Education Authority.
No further details available.
The elemental, avant-garde John Martyn, by Dave Laing
1967: "So there I was on this barge on the river wearing nothing but denims and a smile..." so runs the sleeve note on London Conversation, the first 'white' album on a thriving reggae label by an eighteen year old folk guitarist and singer.
Whose music is his life and whose life is a process of learning
Music makes my heart go, makes me tick. The money doesn't really matter, if it didn't come in I would still go on playing, singing away. I'm just in love with music. That's me.'
Difficult to categorise this musician, except to say that he works in touches of blues, of folk, of the olde-worlde traditional sort of material.
To those critics who demand pigeon-holes, John Martyn is a 'folk guitarist'. He plays mostly acoustic guitars and sings songs. And makes remarkable records, using jazz musicians, African drummers and anyone else he thinks appropriate. His latest (and seventh) album, Inside Out, has just been released by Island. Before that was Solid Air, which is one of Dave Dyke's favourite records. So we asked Dave to talk to John for Guitar.