John Martyn

The son of an opera singer, John Martyn learnt to play the guitar at 15 and on leaving school at 17 started his professional musical career by playing in local folk clubs, mentored by Hamish Imlach. His unique blend of blues and folk saw him signed to Island Records in 1967 and he released his first album London Conversation in 1968. By the Seventies, Martyn developed a new sound by running an acoustic guitar through a fuzzbox, Echoplex and phase-shifter, evident on his 1970 album Stormbringer! It was also his first album recording with his then wife Beverley, who also recorded The Road To Ruin with Martyn that year, before Island Records insisted Martyn release solo albums in the future. Martyn saw commercial success with Solid Air, which marked the beginning of a career-long collaborative partnership with jazz bass player Danny Thompson. He left Island Records for WEA in 1981, in a period some fans regarded as a sell-out as his more mainstream sound departed from the earlier innovation. After returning to and then being dropped by Island Records, Martyn continued to record and innovate and received a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, presented to him by his friend Phil Collins. He was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours in 2009, shortly before his death.

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Stations Featuring John Martyn

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