Exactly a year ago, late in the morning of 29 January, 2009, the news began to circulate that John Martyn had died at the age of 60. I spent the following 24 hours or so talking to many of his cronies to help assemble a tribute feature for The Word magazine. Chris Blackwell, the man who had signed him to Island in 1967, had just stepped off a plane in Jamaica. He sounded fuzzy and uncertain. He knew Martyn was dead but needed details. "What happened, I haven't heard?" he asked. Pneumonia, I told him. "Ah, God, that'll do you in."
Published on 25 Jan 2010
Almost a year after his death, John Martyn’s life is the focus of a celebratory concert. But the man behind the music remains as mysterious as ever.
He was an incurable romantic who was handy with his fists. Within his burly, imposing frame lay a soulful, expressive voice, and his songs lent themselves to cover versions by artists as renowned as Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Ralph McTell. As for his guitar playing, he was a master of the craft, an enduringly influential and inventive figure.
John Martyn, alas, is with us no more. He died less than a year ago, on January 29, 2009, aged just 60, of double pneumonia in a hospital in Ireland. On hearing the news, his long-time friend, the singer Phil Collins, was moved to say: "He was uncompromising, which made him infuriating to some people, but he was unique and we’ll never see the likes of him again. I loved him dearly and will miss him very much."
Cult folk and blues singer John Martyn left his long-term partner and daughter an estate worth £82,000 in his will.
The twice-married musician, who grew up in Glasgow, died from pneumonia at the age of 60 last January.
His partner of 10 years Teresa Walsh received three-quarters of the estate while daughter Mhairi, 38, was left the rest by Martyn, best known for his 1973 album Solid Air.
The figure for his estate is thought not to include property and assets in Ireland. Martyn, who lived in County Kilkenny, also had a son Spenser.
In the picture-perfect scenery of Challes-les-Eaux
in seventy-five, locked in private darkness,
I played your lost indefinable music
on a tired loop of tape: Solid Air –
its title track an elegy for a friend you couldn’t save,
while you were destined to survive.
With a brawler’s zest for living,
you absorbed the booze and heartbreak.
When I heard you had died I found you
in the afterlife of YouTube, restraining tears
for grief you’d caused,
knowing your muse, Serendipity,
had always been a harsh one, that even now
there could have been no easier way.
I received this a week ago and today, what would have been John's 61st birthday, seems a good day to publish this elegy. David writes:
Luttele weken nadat John Martyn op nieuwjaarsdag een hoge Britse onderscheiding (OBE) toegekend had gekregen voor zijn muzikale verdiensten overleed de geweldenaar van de Britse folkscene aan de gevolgen van een dubbele longontsteking.
With his slurred voice and Echoplexed guitar, John Martyn forged a unique sound and style somewhere between folk, rock and jazz. Michael Heatley salutes an irreplaceable artist.
The partner of the late folk and blues artist John Martyn yesterday collected an OBE on behalf of the musician, who died in January at the age of 60. Teresa Walsh collected the honour from the Prince of Wales at the Buckingham Palace investiture service.
"I was responsible for three days of John Martyn's misery," rues Verve guitarist in this exclusive interview with MOJO's Danny Eccleston
Al Stewart looks back on a friendship snuffed out by prune mallets, dark drugs and Scottish insults.
John Martyn Special
Mike played excerpts of a lot of songs from various sources.