British Songwriter John Martyn Dead At 60

Jill Lawless
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - British singer-songwriter John Martyn, whose soulful songs were covered by the likes of Eric Clapton, died Thursday. He was 60.

Martyn's official Web site said the musician, who lived in Ireland, died Thursday morning. It did not give a cause of death.

A skilled guitarist and earthy vocalist influenced by folk, blues and jazz, Martyn performed with -and was admired by- musicians including Clapton, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Phil Collins.

Collins said Thursday that Martyn had been "a great friend."

"He was uncompromising, which made him infuriating to some people, but he was unique and we'll never see the likes of him again," Collins said.

Martyn was born Iain David McGeachy near London in 1948, but grew up in Glasgow, Scotland.

He took up the guitar in his teens, moved to London and released a series of enduring albums, including "The Road to Ruin" and "Solid Air," regarded by some critics as one of the best British albums of the 1970s.

Martyn never became a household name, but his songs were praised by critics and highly regarded by other musicians. One of the best known, "May You Never," was recorded by Clapton and a host of other artists.

Martyn had a reputation as a hell-raiser, and acknowledged that alcohol and drugs had sometimes led him into trouble.

"I've been mugged in New York and luckily I fought my way out of it," he told the Daily Mirror newspaper last year. "I've been shot a couple of times as well, but I just lay down and pretended to be dead.

"I guess I'm hard to kill."

Martyn had suffered health problems in recent years, and in 2003 had a leg amputated below the knee because of a burst cyst. He continued to perform, appearing at last year's Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.

Last month, Martyn was named an OBE -Officer of the Order of the British Empire- by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to music.

There was no immediate word on survivors or funeral plans.