John Martyn dead at age 60
Photo courtesy of JohnMartyn.com
After an almost peerless 40 year career, bursting with over 20 solo releases and countless collaborations, the troubled and influential singer-songwriter John Martyn died yesterday afternoon in an Ireland hospital.
In a career that spanned funk, soul, blues, and folk, the intensely exploratory guitarist and songwriter found himself in keen company through much of the 1970s. Sharing a label with the doomed saint Nick Drake, collaborating throughout the '70s with Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Lee "Scratch" Perry, Martyn's musical vintage is proved not just by the breadcrumb trail of albums he left behind him, but by the obvious esteem he curried from the best and most powerful participants of multiple music genres.
But Martyn's life was a riddle of personal darknesses, and throughout his life he engaged in a losing battle with drug addiction and alcoholism, a war in which his failures were frequent and devastating and his victories were minor and rare. His struggles with addiction cost him a marriage and a leg, but he darkly, and astutely, quoted that "if I could control myself more, I think the music would be less interesting."
His obituary offers a more complete recap of his life and his career. Below is a video of Martyn performing his song "May You Never" in 1973.