I’ve just found out that one of my favourite English blues/folk musicians, John Martyn has died today, after a long battle with alcoholism and drug addiction.
Throughout his career, John Martyn blurred the lines between blues, folk, and dub, experimenting with taking the traditional folk sound and adding elecronic effects in the 70’s. he mixed with some of the most influential musicians of the era, including Jimi Hendrix, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, David Gilmour and Eric Clapton.
He hit the big-time with his 1973 album, ‘Solid Air’, written in response to the death of his friend, Nick Drake. He followed this up with a number of live album, before the breakup of his marriage inspired John to write ‘Grace and Danger’. The material was so close to the bone that Island Records initially refused to release it. John described himself as ‘going off a cliff’ after it’s release, and started on a downward spiral of drugs and drink.
I first heard John Martyn’s work on a compilation, where he covered Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’ so well that I thought it was the original. Soon afterwards I picked up on of the Cafe del Mar compilations that had Talvin Singh’s remix of ‘Sunshine’s Better’, which is equally fantastic. His ‘Solid Air’ album was such a favourite of mine and my wifes that we played ‘May You Never’ during the signing of the register at our wedding.
I’m sad he’s gone. RIP John Martyn