Ze hebben niet zoveel met elkaar gemeen, John Martyn en John Updike. Behalve dat ze stierven in dezelfde week en dat ik over beider dood vernam toen ik in New York verbleef. Toen ik vanmiddag, terug uit New York, de column van Frits Abrahams op de achterkant van NRC Handelsblad van afgelopen woensdag onder ogen kreeg kwam ik op nog een overeenkomst: 'John Updike zal voor mij altijd de grote schrijver van de echtscheiding blijven' begon Abrahams zijn column. Na lezing wist ik zeker dat ik Updikes Too Far To Go ga lezen, zoals hopelijk muziekliefhebbers na de necrologieën van John Martyn te hebben gelezen, zich geroepen voelen diens Grace & Danger aan te schaffen. Want hierop bewees Martyn zich als de grote muzikant van de echtscheiding.
AMSTERDAM - De laatste jaren van het leven van John Martyn, de Britse singer/songwriter die donderdag op 60-jarige leeftijd overleed, waren bepaald niet de ongelukkigste. Hij moest die jaren overigens wel doorbrengen in een rolstoel, nadat een cyste in 2003 amputatie van zijn rechteronderbeen noodzakelijk had gemaakt. Maar zijn werk, waarvan folk en jazz de hoofdbestanddelen waren, inspireerde de laatste jaren weer jonge artiesten met een hang naar folk (Iron & Wine, Devandra Banhart, Ray LaMontagne, M. Ward, Bon Iver) en zorgde zo voor een herwaardering van de artiest.
I first met John one sunny afternoon in 1977. I was watching tv in the living room at Hamish Imlachs place in Motherwell Scotland. The door crashed open and in walked this tall hyper young guy in his late 20's,
MARTYN (Wollangrange, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny) Jan. 29, 2009, John (Muscian) (formerly of Roberton, Langside, Glasgow); deeply missed by Teresa, Bari, Spencer, Wesley and Eimer, sister Jules, brother David, relatives and friends. R.I.P. Reposing at his home. Service at St. Mary's Church, Kells, Co. Kilkenny at 12.30 o'c. tomorrow (Sunday). Cremation in Newlands Cross Crematoriam at 3 o'c. on Monday. No flowers. Collection during service.
Publish Date: 31st January 2009
Published in: Irish Independent
Some rock stars affect outrageousness but John Martyn was the real deal. Powered by more than 40 years of enjoying the excesses of a rock'n'roll lifestyle, John could be boisterous, difficult company. Consequently, his enemies -and he had a few- genuinely disliked him. Back in his heyday, he hung out with gangsters and had a reputation for resorting to violence: he once broke the ribs of a former manager during a brawl.
Singer, guitarist and composer John Martyn was a folkie with a jazz soul. An accomplished and innovative guitarist, he got his start as a teenager in Britain's thriving folk scene of the 1960s. He went on to add electronics, collaborate with Phil Collins and score a hit with the British dance band Sister Bliss. Pink Floyd's David Gilmour was a fan. Beth Orton was one of many who recorded his songs.
I know that some people just adore John Martyn's music. He has a loyal fanbase indeed. These fans would have been delighted that John just got awarded the honour of an OBE — but then everything is overshadowed by his death yesterday.
John Martyn emerged from the British folk scene in the late 1960s to make some of the most hauntingly evocative and mesmerising music of his era.
A virtuoso guitarist with a laid-back but highly expressive voice, he made innovative records that defied categorisation and thrillingly blurred the boundaries between folk, jazz, blues and rock. At his height, every note he played or sang seemed to be imbued with a spacious elegance and sublime airiness all too rare in the hurly-burly of modern popular music.
Hellraising folk musician and creator of the seminal album Solid Air
Ain't No Saint was the title of the four-CD restrospective of John Martyn's career, released to mark his 60th birthday last September. The name could hardly have been more apt, since Martyn, who died yesterday, became renowned for a career that lurched between triumph and disaster, both personal and musical. Drugs, drunken brawls and marital breakdown littered his CV, but then so did several of the most enduring and idiosyncratic albums made by a British artist in the last 40 years.
We were deeply saddened to learn that Scottish songwriter, guitarist, and true legend John Martyn passed away early on January 29, only weeks after being awarded Great Britain's OBE (Order of the British Empire) — not bad for a rebellious lifelong Scotsman. His website announced his death with the words: "With heavy heart and an unbearable sense of loss we must announce that John died this morning." As of this writing, the cause of that death is unknown but it hardly matters. What does is that in place of that gruff, slurring, dark, smoky voice and stunning guitar playing completely of his own design, is the silence, the gap, the void, the damn black hole in life that he filled by singing those unbearably emotional songs of his.