Published on 25 Jan 2010
Almost a year after his death, John Martyn’s life is the focus of a celebratory concert. But the man behind the music remains as mysterious as ever.
He was an incurable romantic who was handy with his fists. Within his burly, imposing frame lay a soulful, expressive voice, and his songs lent themselves to cover versions by artists as renowned as Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Ralph McTell. As for his guitar playing, he was a master of the craft, an enduringly influential and inventive figure.
John Martyn, alas, is with us no more. He died less than a year ago, on January 29, 2009, aged just 60, of double pneumonia in a hospital in Ireland. On hearing the news, his long-time friend, the singer Phil Collins, was moved to say: "He was uncompromising, which made him infuriating to some people, but he was unique and we’ll never see the likes of him again. I loved him dearly and will miss him very much."