20 Sep 1991
John Martyn is one of Britain's best-loved troubadours. A pioneering folk singer during the sixties, his musical style has constantly changed over the years, breaking down the boundaries between reggae, jazz and pop.
He also has some of the itchiest feet in rock - John spends several months of each year on the road. He recently played more than 100 shows in Europe with hardly a night off.
That was a bit of a killer!' he laughs. 'When I finally got home I don't think I got out of bed for five days. The current tour is a little less ambitious; a mere six weeks with a short break in the middle.'
John's present series of dates coincide with the release of his latest album, Cooltide, which is on an independent label. 'After years with multinational record companies, I like the idea of being somewhere small,' he explains. 'That way I can spend as much time as possible at home in Scotland with my wife, Annie, and not be in meetings with executives.'
'I'm still what's known as a cult figure. I've got my own following and don't have to worry about reaching a wider audience by doing things like children's TV shows.'
Despite his less than mainstream appeal, Martyn is financially secure, as well as being rather well-respected. Over the years he has worked with megastars such as Phil Collins and the Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, while some of his albums have been accorded the status of classics.
These include Bless The Weather, perhaps the first jazz-folk LP, Solid Air and the more recent Grace And Danger. The latter is a poignant statement about the collapse of his first marriage to Beverley, with whom he recorded some songs in the early seventies.
'It's all water under the bridge now,' he shrugs, 'and I don't usually play any of those songs any more. But at the time it was an important thing to get out of my system.' John has two teenage children from his marriage. His son, now 15, can be seen on the cover of his Sunday's Child album. It was to him, that John dedicated May You Never, perhaps his best-known tune.
'Apart from the LP's, I've been working on some soundtracks for TV shows and movies,' Martyn concludes. 'My favourite so far has been the score I did for The Rachel Papers, the film of the Martin Amis novel.'
The 1989 USA film has gotten another score, credited to Chaz Jankel and David Storrs.