1986 saw John Martyn celebrating twenty years as a performer, an occasion marked by the release of the worlds first commercially available compact disc single Angeline, a song taken from John's album Piece By Piece which was released the same year on the Island Records label. John Martyn is renowned as a live performer with a stage presence second to none, blisteringly powerful and seductively melodic live renditions of his songs have earned him respect and a place in the hearts of many fans.
John and Danny go back a long, long way to the late 1960s. I asked Danny how they came to meet, "I met John out in Newport Folk Festival (Rhode Island in the USA) when I was with Pentangle, and he said do you fancy getting together?"
John and Danny at the Brewery? In their hell-raising days of the 1970s this would have been no surprise, but to be more precise we join John and Danny at The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, on the 11th or 12th June 1986. The inimitable Arran Ahmun plays drums and percussion through many of John's songs both old and new.
Individual and unpredictable are two choice adjectives both of which have been used to describe John Martyn's music. It is highly personalized, emotional, often raw and sometimes harsh and jarring but with an undeniably romantic streak underneath. Even in turbulent moments, the element of romance is always present beneath the suffering, and for every 'Big Muff' and 'Dealer' you have a 'Head And Heart' and a 'May You Never'.
This Scottish singer/ songwriter/ guitarist set the world on its collective ear in 1968 with the release of his debut album London Conversation. A fairly typical British folk artist at first, his music began to relect influences of jazz, blues and rock and evolved into something far more sophisticated.
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 1960s 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.
I first met John Martyn in New York while engineering the sessions for Stormbringer. Joe Boyd's Witchseason label had originally signed Beverley as a solo artist before her marriage to John; after working on the subsequent John and Beverley album Road to Ruin Joe's parting gift to me on leaving Britain and returning to the States in 1971, was to produce a solo John Martyn album. The album, to cost less than £ 2,000, was intended to fulfil John and Beverley's contractual obligations.
John Martyn was born Iain McGeachy, 11 September 1948, in New Malden, Surrey, England, to musically-minded parents. At the age of 17, he started his professional career under the guidance of folk artist Hamish Imlach.
In the summer of 1977, Chris Blackwell asked me to work with him on John Martyn's new LP 'One World'. Chris planned to use the Island Mobile and record for three weeks at this house in Theale. This is where I had recorded overdubs for Robert Palmer's 'Pressure Drop' album, two years earlier, and Chris like the idea of recording outside. He had been impressed by the apparent ease of working this way, the great sound and ambience of vocals and instruments and the extra freedom when working from home. The house was almost totally surrounded by a flooded disused gravel pit - a large lake with a house in the middle.
There is a saying of The Bedouin Tribe. "We pitch our tents far apart, so that our hearts remain close." Since the mid-seventies John and myself have had our tents very much apart, but the friendship developed during the three years we had together has remained a strong bond.