Archived Guestbook 2011-2015

These are the entries made in the Big Muff guestbook between 2011 and 2015.

The original guestbook was a dedicated Perl script but after twelve years I decided to incorporate it in the website for reasons of security and usability.
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I went to a gig at a very small folk club in Grays, Essex where John was the headline act. This was about 1969, on the back of the "You Can All Join In" sampler put out by Island records. Does any one else remember this??
Cheers, Kelvin

Cairns, Queensland
Australia

There was another solo gig by John at Newcastle Polytechnic on 9th November 1979. I can remember the date as my friends all wanted me to go and see the Two-Tone Tour on the same night. It feels like one of those Sliding Doors type moments but I chose to see John.

As I recall he was obviously inebriated and in a foul mood. After a very short set of short songs he left the stage but was obviously 'persuaded' that he owed the audience more and so he returned. This time he plugged his guitar into the echoplex and stood cradling the guitar, strapless, as he played an exquisite instrumental. All was going well until he lost his grip on the guitar, the tune came to an abrupt halt and he stomped off stage. I still think going to see him was the right choice.

UK

It's funny that every possible giglist omits the concert date I remember so well! John Martyn appeared in Port Rush on August 24 1979. He seems to have been there in June of the same year, but I have vivid memories from the given date.
Also on the 3-days-bill: Loudon Wainwright, Tom Paxton, Strawbs (they reunited after their gig), Dave Cousins, Melanie Harrolds. I was on an All-Ireland-tour that year. Kind regards!

Switzerland

You are right. John's show took place the 25th of August then. I corrected the entry in the giglist. There is also a Tour Program coming up.

Hi there,
About 1983/84, I was asked by Kenny Macdonald to find a gig for John on the quiet, as he needed £200 to pay his electricity bill at Roberton. I booked him into the Cross Keys in Peebles & spread the word locally, which was a doddle as the pub had two nights a week of live music anyway. One of the nights was given to a jazz-funk outfit After Eight Mince, featuring, amongst others, Foss Paterson on keys.
I drove him and Kenny home after a packed gig to Roberton and stayed over. I drove him to Biggar the next day to pay the bill, but all he bought was two bottles of gas to heat the house if the power got cut off, a trip to the pub and a large carry-out!

Scotland

I work for a Glaswegian audio company and one day a customer from Scandinavia said 'Ah Glasgow! You must be a John martyn fan!' I'd never heard of him. Big fan of Young, Waits, Dylan et al, but had no idea who JM was. Some time later I was in my local boozer, the Grove (Finnieston), and some old timer told me this was John's old local.
Needless to say that I'm now a massive fan, but does anyone know if John did drink there?

Glasgow
United Kingdom

I've found a reference to a John Martyn gig on 3 December 1977 in my diary. I was staying with friends in Nottingham. While some of us -including me- went to the pub, 'The other three went to a John Martyn concert'. Now, whether the concert was actually in Nottingham, or indeed whether it actually took place, I have no idea, but it might be something worth exploring.

UK

Eureka! I found it! I have a portion of the cover for the "Island" album. I think it's unique. It's the Cabbagetown Cafe/ Juke Joint.
I've been trying to figure out what album/ band it originated from. I've googled all kinds of things. Duh... today I'm on it again and I googled Cabbagetown Cafe. I found it! I'm so happy!
It's been framed on my wall. Great conversation piece. I'm originally from NOLA so it all makes since now, but.... one of the guys has a shirt with Razorbacks written on it. Ironically that's an Arkansas thing! Imagine that since that is where I now reside.

Well, after further research I've discovered I was mistaken. Although John Martyn had a good sound the album in question Juke Joint is not by him; it's The Band with Levon Helm from Elaine, Arkansas. So sorry, but I have discovered a new artist in John Martyn, Spooky Tooth, Sutherland Bros. & Quiver... - Jennifer

Fayetteville, AR
United States

I saw John a few times in the 70s. First up was (I think) his first Newcastle City Hall headliner (November 30th 1975). Support was from my fave folk band and local heroes, Hedgehog Pie (I’d seen them a few months earlier do a brilliant set supporting Isotope at the Durham Domefest). Also on the bill was Pete Scott. The same package came back to the City Hall on July 6th 1976. Both times he apologised for the lack of Danny Thompson but we were pleased to see him on his own – especially when he rocked on his seat to the echo bits – brilliant.
The next time he came to Newcastle was November 30th 1977 – at the Polytechnic supported by Prelude. In the early 80s ('81 or '82), I went to the Dunelm in Durham and shared! a ticket with my mate (taking turns to go downstairs on the same ticket). The support band were Any Trouble who were great on record but never seemed to cut it at a gig. When it came to my turn to go down to see John I was surprised to see that he had a band – I wasn’t prepared for this and I stayed down for a few songs but it wasn't the same as the fantastic City Hall gigs.

UK

My name is Sam Donnison and I can remember the exact date that I first heard John Martyn as his sound changed me so much. That was over 10 years ago now and while my tastes have broadened, I will always love his music.

I work in music as a record collector and DJ and have had the fortune to play records several times at a venue in East London called Brilliant Corners. Brilliant Corners is special as it is really geared towards the music lover. Named after a Thelonious Monk album, Brilliant Corners operates a fully audiophile soundsystem, where only the best audio components are utilised and music is delivered using the best medium - vinyl.

On some nights, music is focussed more towards a listening party and on other nights people will dance, however, the main focus is always on exposing people to quality sounds.

I recently started a midweek folk night at the venue named (funnily enough 'Small Hours) where I 'DJ' folk music of different types, all presented on vinyl. Well, the first event was a great success and they have asked me back and I thought that would be a perfect excuse to do a 'John' focussed evening.

I just thought I would mention it to you in case you thought this would be of interest to your website visitors. If so, do feel free to let people know! I haven't quite figured out if I will select the tracks I think follow on well from eachother, using two turntables or whether from my collection I will try and whittle down the records that highlight his best work and play these from start to finish. Either way, everything played will be by John Martyn.

The venue also boasts excellent beers, wines and spirits and one of London's best Japanese chefs in the kitchen - it really is my favourite place to be in London. Oh and it's free. Details are:

Small Hours - A tribute to John Martyn
25th February - 20:00-24:00
Brilliant Corners, 470 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AE

FB event here - https://www.facebook.com/events/634639556662001/?ref=br_tf

UK

I've just had a look to the concert list. I'm sure that John played twice in the New Morning, Paris in April 1991. I saw the full concert on the first evening.
On the second evening, I went there shortly before the end to buy a T-shirt for an English friend of mine with whom I saw John a couple of other times (in le Palace, Kentish Town). It was his birthday, he was 40. I had a chat with John's manager (a German guy) and with Annie. I told her about my friend's birthday; then she went backstage and came back with the T-shirt signed by John who wrote something like "for the roaring forties". All the best to you.

France

I've skimmed through the list of JM's 70's gigs and didn't see a mention of this one... unless I've missed it. At some point in the 70's, '76 maybe... John and Al Stewart played a gig in St Mary's Cathedral in Palmerston Place, Edinburgh. Al Stewart came on first and whined and moaned about the feedback from the PA. John then came on... There was no stage, they were playing on the cathedral floor and we, the audience were sitting in the cathedral seats. He rolled a spliff, passed it to the front row of the audience and proceeded to blow Al Stewart off the non-existent stage.

Hi,
I saw John at Ripon training college, Yorkshire in about 1971. I suppose it must be the gig you list as '1972-01-15 UK, Ripon, College of Education. (Saturday).' But it definitely wasn't with Bronco and Claire Hamill, John was alone.
It was an incredible concert especially as it was a private performance. I do not exaggerate when I say there were no more than 5 people in the audience. Two mates and I managed to escape the boarding school (I was in 6th form) for the evening and we were the only people in the audience except one (possibly two) other guy(s) who drifted in and out near John and who I presumed to be the courageous organizer(s).
When I say courageous I mean that Ripon was super straight, no one had ever played at Ripon before and the nearest concert of worth was the Nice and Yes at nearby Harrogate the previous year. This was and probably still is a backwater (and personal hell-hole) so hiring him was a foolish but from my point of view a marvellous mistake. From what I can gather now the college was a religious college which adds to the foolishness.
We were stoned out of our heads having just partaken of a hash pipe around the back of the building so we were all a bit shy, seeing as we were the total of audience, so we squatted at the back. John played the most incredible set of what seemed like an extended Glistening Glyndebourne jam. In fact I don't remember him playing anything other than the echoplex although at the time I hadn't a clue what it was or how he was making all this incredible sound. The words 'blown were' are a cliché but not on that day. This was it!
The common belief is that John was a real bastard although at that time I hadn't heard any rumours. Of course there was no internet and the only source of news was MM, NME, OZ and IT. To me John was a complete gentleman, he played to us as though were were a real audience not just three school-kids at the back of the hall. he didn't banter but that was fine with me.
I saw John play about 5 years later in London, I have all his records and, up until a couple of years ago, all of his live ones too.
I am right now reading Some People are Crazy which made me want to see if the Ripon gig was listed here. Pleasantly surprised it was and glad to have the date clarified. I thought it was 1971 but I was only out by 6 weeks.

Are you and your readers sure John played Glasgow's Sub Club December 1989? Perhaps he did, though I seem to remember him there winter of 1988 and he sang only due to a hand/arm injury.

Glasgow

Will have to look into this.

Tilburg
Nl

You were right. Mike Grieve reports that John also played the Sub Club on Wednesday 28th December 1988.

I'm sure this anecdote has been recounted here before, but I still love it. Apparently John was playing in Liberty Hall in Dublin (1977, I think) when he broke a string while tuning up mid set. As soon as he'd replaced it he immediately broke a second string. Suddenly a roar went up... 'Lucky you don't play the f**king harp!'. Apocryphal maybe, but who cares. Thanks for everything John and it turns out you were The Creator...

As a sixteen year old boarder at Kings School in Worcester, I was cheered on my return to school for the 1971 winter term to discover that Traffic would be playing at the Gaumont in September. Traffic were a band I had discovered through their John Barleycorn Must Die album, and I had spent some of my summer earnings on Welcome To The Canteen. I got myself a ticket and discovered the support act was John Martyn about whom I knew nothing. I asked around at school and one lad told me he had heard he played round London and was a good guitarist. Fair enough.

On the evening in question I headed off, on my tod, to the Gaumont, one of the local cinemas, and made my way up to the balcony where there was a small selection of concert goers. The seats downstairs were nearly all empty as we had all gone for the cheap seats... Anyway, on comes a youthful curly haired chap with an acoustic guitar, sits himself down, scans the empty downstairs, and says "Where is everybody?"
- "Upstairs in the balcony!" we all shout back.
- "Why don't you come down here, there's loads of room."
- "The manager won't let us!"
- "Sod the manager!"
This was followed by a mini stampede down to the front rows. From there John played a selection of acoustic tunes of which I remember Easy Blues, and Tree Green which was prefaced by the tale that "Now I'm famous, snigger, I can afford to travel first class on British Rail, but first class is always full of men in business suits with copies of the Financial Times. So I feel quite uncomfortable sitting there but as I've paid for a first class ticket I'm not going back to second class so I sit in the toilet. And they have that frosted glass so all you can see is the green as the trees go past. So this song is called Tree Green."

I didn't know any of his songs then so I couldn't tell you any more titles. However after several songs came time to "plug in" the acoustic guitar. Bang! Out go the lights. A couple of minutes later all was fixed and John launched into an epic of echo and delay. I'm not sure how many pieces he did like this but I do remember him setting up an echo pattern and then shifting up his capo to play along in harmony. This has stuck in my mind and I've not seen him do it on any of the "echo" pieces I've come across, although he used to do it on Seven Black Roses.

I must go now. Others may have different recollections, but this is how I will always remember it. Lov,Rich.

Tenby
Wales

Nice to see my comments added to the picture of the plaques.
Hamish, John & myself were almost like a private brotherhood with big H as the father figure. There were 8 years between all of us; John was eight years younger than Hamish & I was/ am eight years younger than John. When John & I were in our twenties, we were often asked if we were brothers & if Hamish was our dad, can you believe it!

As young enthusiastic musicians both John & I (at different times) were lucky to be welcomed into the Imlach family's private sphere and share their hospitality, so we both went through a similar experience in our younger days. John, like myself, always retained a special love & respect for Hamish & his family.

I still have a fairly close relationship with them today. Quite often when I was visiting Hamish, John would come down to Motherwell & we'd go out for a few beers, then back to the flat, cook a curry, then sit around (with more beers or wine etc), exchanging tall tales & silly stories, sleep the night there etcetera. Great days, sadly never to return. These were very special moments and for me, just a few of the valid reasons for those two plaques to be together.

Hüllhorst
Germany

Hi, I saw John Martyn at least once in Singleton Park, Swansea in the 1990s. My belief is that it was likely around 1995. You have in fact a gig listed for August 1995. The thing is, the one I saw had a substantial guest appearance by Andy Sheppard on sax. I'm pretty sure there wasn't another sax player.
Sheppard played most of the gig, I seem to recall. Martyn was in dungarees and had put on a few inches around the waist since the last time I'd seen him, although that was maybe going on ten years. It was a good show, I recall.

UK

You are probably right about the sax player. I got the info for the 6th August concert (with Gerry Underwood on sax) from the organiser but he might easily be mistaken.

Someone mentioned a gig at Essex university in the fall of 1978. I remember it well! At the tender age of 15 it was the first proper gig I'd been to! I remember that Phil Collins guested on drums. I will try and find the exact date as I remember it was shortly before the Hawklords played the Ipswich Gaumont, which was my 2nd gig!

UK

Well the Hawklords concert at Ipswich Gaumont was 22nd October 1978. So that definitely narrows it down.

John played on the one and only Causeway Folk Festival 1979. This ambitious festival was held on the last weekend of June 1979, in Portrush, Northern Ireland. They lost so much money due to many artists and not enough punters [paying guests].
We all stayed in the Causeway Coast Hotel and I awoke one night to shouting outside my room door; it was John having 'word' with Paul Brady and Loudon Wainwright was acting as referee. I shouted 'Any chance of keeping the noise down?' only to have a gruff Scottish accent to tell me to 'fuck off'. Which I did, I shut the door and went back to sleep. BBC Northern Ireland recorded the festival and the material was broadcast around September 1979. If my memory serves me well.

Northern Ireland

I think you might me mistaken about the date of the festival. Recently I got accurate information that in fact the festival was held the weekend of 24 August 1979. This would be consistent with the date of the broadcast, too.

John (and Bert for that matter) were the best players in each of their styles. They were always just there and I went back to them continually for a turn of a phrase or simply to breath in the air their music was pushing out at me. But they were both just there and they were supposed to stay just there. *sigh*

Thank-you Sir John a lot for an adult life of pleasurable music.

Guelph, Ontario
Canada

I was at the 1983-05-17 Canada, Ottawa, Barrymore's Music Hall gig...
There was a previous Ottawa show, I believe in April 1981 in Ottawa at the Beacon Arms Hotel, supporting Grace & Danger. Max Middleton and Alan Thompson were in the touring band. It was probably right after the gig in Montreal. I don't recall the exact date but will see what I can dig up. It was a smaller, more intimate venue than Barrymore's. Great site by the way.

In the gig list for June 1996, there is an omission for the appearance at the local council sponsored 'Rainbow Festival' (also labelled 'Environmental Fair') held annually in Cassiobury Park, Watford. The last one was held in 2001 I believe. The June 1996 gig was a last minute (unscheduled) replacement for the awful 90s boy band Let Loose, who cancelled due to illness. John appeared on set (only 20 minutes) clad in a fur coat and clutching a can of special brew. When a fan requested May You Never he responded tersley that "I may *ucking play it later!" His reason for the fur coat he insisted was that he was suffering from a heavy cold and had aquired it the previous day from a local charity shop. Cynics believed that it was a little mischievous. The fur coat attracted more space in the local Watford Observer than details of the performance itself. More space was irritatingly devoted to the other replacement band, soul crooners Odyssey. The gig was on Saturday the 29th June 1996, unfortunately no-one can recall the setlist.

Webmaster: Thank you for the info, I made an entry in the giglist.

UK

BBC Radio 6 Music. 1st April 13 @ 3am. 6 Music Live Hour. J.M. from Paris
Theatre 25.3.81. Should be five songs / 1/2 hour in length, which half of the
show I do not know.

UK

Hi,
I found two gig dates, missing from your excellent website database.
18/04/89 - Cheltenham Town Hall (can't find ticket stub sorry.) In my diary from 1989.
18/12/94 - Bristol Bierkeller, support Jay Fisher £8.50 - I have the stub for this one.
All the best, Tim.

Webmaster: Thank you! A scan or a picture of the Bierkeller gig is always welcome.

Hi again, I have found some more ticket stubs, how do I get scans/copies to you.
Tim

Great! Looking forward.

Hi there,
I'm trying to find out if any film footage exists of John Martyn playing at Cambridge Folk Festival in 1985 please? We know a cd was recorded and released but are looking for video footage or stills.
Any help would be gratefully received, thanks.

So long John, your music will never die in my heart, been the soundtrack of my life.... I had the honor to record versions of Sweet Little Mystery and Solid Air on a couple of my albums..... I miss you man!

Milano
Italia

Saw Johnny several times including the Hammersmith one where Phil Collins did a couple of tracks on b/vox and drums. Got a tape of it some time later. The Well Kept Secret album was much maligned but there was plenty of energy on the tour.

London
UK

Saw him 11/29/73 in Tulsa Oklahoma opening for Foghat and Humble Pie. Echoplex guitar playing solo in a cavern like lousy acoustic hockey/ basketball venue - Tulsa Assembly Center. Add to gigs list!

Webmaster: Indeed it is, thank you.

Wagoner
USA

Can't remember the exact date but it was a Friday in (I think) October 2001, John did the Brighton Poly Folk Club. Whilst it was arranged through Island it did not go through the official contracts as John requested an unusual form of payment plus travel expenses. The performance was as I remember excellent and we all had a great time.

UK

I did security for the Keele University concert of 12th November 1984. Apparently it was bootlegged. Any idea where I can get a copy? That would be great. You can contact me through the webmaster (who hasn't got it by the way).

UK

First time I heard his music was on a Peel show session in summer of '70 or '71. It struck a chord with me, but I misunderstood it to be John Mayall, whose blues is really a lot dryer... Anyway I came across him again by accident when I went to hear Loudon Wainwright at the Central London Poly 30/10/71, a night you record in your listing. The last part of his set I experienced as being like waves of sound flowing down the hall, flowing over me, all around me, floating me... A bit like waves of low lying ripples of mist - a unique experience. And I hadn't smoked at any of those gigs, had never been stoned in my life at that point.
On the strength of that performance within a few months I went to Les Cousins to hear him solo. Then some months later he played there again and I was again there - I understand he had been asked to perform the very last gig to ever take place there, perhaps in the summer of '72? All three performances I experienced as being very very strong, beautiful, amazing. Was it Beth Orton who said that when she listened to his music of that epoch, it was as if time stopped, you were transported...
He played his socks off that final night in Cousins and played into the night. I stayed to the end then bolted out the door and arrived in the nick of time to catch the last tube home from Tottenham Court Road, thank God. I was 17 years of age, probably the youngest person at those gigs. Just no-one in my acquaintance knew his music - he wasn't well known or famous like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin etc. I'm sorry I don't have the actual dates of those last two times he played Les Cousins. They would probably both have been Saturday nights and were advertised through Melody Maker.
Best wishes, Joe Quilty, now living in West of Ireland.

Ireland

As far as I can tell the club Les Cousins closed in April 1972. Your comments made me think of this quote by Mike Sparrow on the BBC VHS video:

In an interview once I put it to him that his music sounds as if you are hearing it at the bottom of the ocean, waves of thick sound swirling above your head. 'Yes,' he said, 'it sounds like that to me too'. Then, with a characteristic Martyn grin, 'So who's your psychiatrist?!'

Tilburg
Netherlands

I saw John perform in 1980 or 1981 at Essex University, Colchester, in the Student's Union. He had Phil Collins on drums and John Giblin on bass. Pretty awesome gig. It was before Phil Collins went solo and released Face Value.
I sat unknowingly with two friends with my back to Collins before the gig in the bar. He was with a woman and a couple of kids. I then, with my loud mouth, recoiled in shock at a leaflet saying John Martyn was being joined by Phil Collins. As a long time Genesis hater, I slagged off Genesis but applauded his work with Brand X and exclaimed that brilliant though he was, he needed to get a better band or go it alone. He left the bar shortly after.
I like to think in my own special way he took my advice and became the superstar he was. Of course, in my heart I know that's BS. But it's a good bar tale to tell...

UK

Can't tell you the exact date, but John Martyn played a gig at our school (Maidenhead Grammar School), in the spring/ early summer of 1973. He was paid £50 for the privilige, and slept on the floor at one of the Upper Sixth form lad's houses!
Regards, Phil.

UK

Actually, it was 12th May 1972.

Great I'll make a note.

John did a gig at Liverpool University in 1980 or 1981. I was a student at the time but returned to my home town every weekend meeting up with mates at the Augustus John, a bar on the university campus.
We usually spent the night playing pool up until closing time. This particular evening the bar was packed out. Round about 8pm the bar emptied out, believe it or not, there was just me and my mates left in the pub. 10 minutes later three guys walked in and put their money down on the pool table to play the winner. We just got talking to these guys, and I said "We thought we were missing out on something, 10 minutes ago this place was packed out and now everyone has gone off to a gig next door. Any idea who is playing?" "Me," was the answer, he said he was John Martyn, we were non the wiser. He was possibly doing a one man show, but I think there was possibly a support act. That explains why John was in the bar and his fans were next door.
When they left we wished them luck. We saw a few bands at Liverpool Uni in the past, Climax Blues Band, Ian Gillan Band, Roy Wood, Heavy Metal Kids so you imagine where our taste is at!

UK

Would be interested if any one knew the date of a gig that John Martyn played above the Carlisle pub in Hastings in what I recall was 1976.
I think it was a warm-up a full UK or American tour.
It was a solo gig, in which he used the echoplex for the majority of the numbers.
At the age of 14 this was the first proper gig I had attended.

Thanks for pinpointing this as 1976, I couldn't recall even the year accurately. I don't know the date but I was there, at the front within 10 feet of him. I enjoyed the gig but because of that echoplex I kept thinking about Pink Floyd!

Cambridge
UK

i'm a big john martyn fan and had the pleasure of seeing him at the john wilson theatre in airdrie, there was a beer festival in nearby motherwell that day and a few rowdie ignorants were there trying to giv jm a hard time but he shot them down with a few 1 liners. anyhow after a few growls and stares from true jm fans they soon were told to shut up or they would be listening from the nearby monklands hospital, the lights dimmed again and as he started to play solid air. i lit up a saft black 5 skinner (really pungent smell) the bigman caught a whiff and stopped askin to the crowd who's got that, i shouts down here HOW, gives it was his reply, i was 4 rows away to the left, i stood up and made my way to the front of the stage, handin him the small cigar. he took a drag - keep it i said, i was going to anyway was his reply, going back to my seat amid choruses of laughter he took two long drags and then put it under the strings at the top of his guitar and proceeded to play may you never. i tried to get in backstage after but two drunk arseholes were trying the same so security said no way, but i had blagged the flyer off the wall and had took a cd along in the hope to maybe get it signed but were sent back to main hall, gettin my jacket together the security boy approached and told me to give him the poster and cd, away he went and came back with both signed by the bigman... the security man said he would have met me but he thought i was coming back for the doobie-whether that's true or not i believed him.... my wee gift got me two favourite keepsakes.. recently i found an old vcr tape in my loft of johns 50th birday gig in scotland.. i've uploaded it on youtube under the title john martyn 50, go have a look you'll not be dissapointed,thanx for readin my story, i've dined out on it for years.

Hamilton
Scotland

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