Thursday, January 29, 2009

John Martyn, 1949-2009

Oh dear, what a bad week.

John Martyn has died. One of the most extraordinary voices in popular music, and a truly irascible, one-off human being. He was an extraordinary mixture of sensitive soul and rumbustious rough-houser. He wrote and sang beautiful, delicate love songs and lived a life of complete outrage. When he lost his leg, basically because of his lifestyle, in 2003, he shrugged. "It's my fault," he said, and refused to be bitter or self-pitying.

I only saw him live once, in the middle of a torrential downpour which was threatening to wash away the whole speaker deck. That was nothing compared to the temper John was in: it was monumental. Certainly the most bad-tempered and one of the most memorable performances I've ever seen. Magnificent.

My favourite John Martyn story is of the time he woke up and found he had been nailed under the carpet by Danny Thompson. Google it, the story is all over the place on the web.

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