John Martyn (born Ian David McGeachy in England on September 11, 1948) has died in Irland on January 29, 2009 at the age of 60 – an indescribable loss to the music world.
An absolutely iconoclastic guitarist, he was also an idiosyncratic singer possessed with a highly original and hauntingly soulful style, which he utilized to great advantage on many of his pieces. He leaves behind a treasure trove of atmospheric and remarkably touching compositions, a body of work highly recommended to dip into time and time again.
A trailblazer with a mind of his own, he often served listeners up a carefree stew of genres that cheerfully exploded musical narrow-mindedness in an era then already known for experimentation, though he was indeed ahead of his time – particularly in the early 70s, which also saw him pioneer the use of echoplex in guitar playing, to great effect.
In the late 1960s and early 70s, the exploratory blending of all that interested him led him to become a forerunner of forms of experimentation which would later bleed into and develop into a part of what I will - in my helplessness - term "world fusion", for want of adequate terminology. At the time I thought it a continuation of what groups like Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull and the many other knights of British electric folk & classical-folk-rock fusions had birthed, though to me it seemed on occasion also to be heading into Brand X and even Soft Machine regions - very adventurous, and open for anything. But that was the fertile cross-pollinated English musical landscape of the 60s and 70s, it was anything goes. Sometimes his singing can even remind me of Phil Minton. Looking back, the cornucopia of what all happened still seems unbelievable.
All musicians and music lovers who've ever had the pleasure of being exposed to his music, pause in stunned dismay as word of his death spreads. For each, the world stands still for a moment, and then, yes, it continues, but ... what a drag. A lovely man, we will miss him terribly in the years to come.
video showcase - some lovely pieces and interviews
John Martyn Bio & Discography - Wikipedia
BBC News Obituary
The Times Obituary
Big Muff, The John Martyn Pages - great fan site from the Netherlands
John Martyn Pages (deutsche version)
John Martyn artist website
John Martyn Bio & Discography - Wikipedia (deutsch)