Michael Heatley traces the career of John Martyn, a true musical maverick
Try to pin down the quicksilver musical soul of John Martyn and he'll just squeeze through your fingers. Few who caught up with London Conversation, his late '60s recording bow for Island Records - he was the first white solo performer on what was then a reggae-based label - could have foreseen his transition from folky singer-songwriter to electric rock-band leader and, now, hip-hop balladeer.
Yet while Bob Dylan, an acknowledged influence, made at least the first change, he never showed the same fascination for sounds and textures as Martyn. The way the Scot applied slapback echo and other effects to the acoustic guitar in the '70s has helped shape the approach of many who followed: a generation led by Brit-winning Beth Orton, owes him a debt, while chart-toppers the Verve selected him as their special guest for a 1998 show, introducing him to a new audience.