John Martyn is a man of paradox. A performer who interplays a cockney brashness in conversation with his audience against an emotive warmth in his singing and fiery virtuosity in his playing.
His roots weld traditional folk and blues aspects with the frontiers of jazz, and in his hands his guitars are singularly expressive and spellbinding. He draws strength from two sources, his music and his family, and it is to these that he devotes his total energy.
It is this kind of intensity which John applies to everything he does. When he turned his attention to music and began playing guitar at age 19 (in 1967), he progressed so rapidly that three months after he started recording his first album for Island.
It was called London Conversation, and was a most impressive debut which clearly showed his potential. Since then many albums have followed. John Martyn's music refuses to be typecast; it is an amalgam of several constituents which lose some of their defining characteristics as they merge together to form a whole greater than the sum of parts. There is no concern for phony proprieties which dictate which people are allowed to perform certain forms of music.
This text was printed at page 39 of the Festival program. The complete line-up was as follows: