John Martyn (born Iain David McGeachy on September 11, 1948 in New Malden, Surrey, England) is a British singer-songwriter and guitarist.
Martyn's parents divorced when he was five and he spent his childhood alternating between England and Scotland.
His professional musical career began when he was 17; a blend of blues and folk resulting in a unique style that made him a key figure in the London folk scene during the mid-1960s. He signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records in 1967 and released his first album, London Conversation, the following year.
This first album was soon followed by The Tumbler, which was moving towards jazz. By 1970 Martyn had developed a wholly original and idiosyncratic sound: acoustic guitar run through a fuzzbox, phase-shifter, and Echoplex. This sound was first apparent on Stormbringer in 1970, which featured Martyn's then wife, Beverley Kutner, as his collaborator. She also appeared on The Road to Ruin in 1970.
In 1973, Martyn released one of the defining British albums of the 1970s, Solid Air, the title song a tribute to the singer-songwriter Nick Drake, a close friend and label-mate, who in 1974 died suddenly from an overdose of antidepressants. On this album, as with the one that preceded it, Bless the Weather, Martyn collaborated with jazz bass player, Danny Thompson, with whom he proceeded to have a fruitful musical partnership which continues to this day. He also developed a new, slurred vocal style, the timbre of which resembled a tenor saxophone.
Following the commercial success of Solid Air, Martyn quickly recorded and released the experimental Inside Out, a more difficult album with emphasis placed on feel and improvisation rather than song structure. In 1975, he followed this with Sunday's Child. In September of that year he released a live album, Live at Leeds - Martyn had been unable to convince Island to release the record, and Martyn resorted to selling individually signed copies by mail from his home. Live At Leeds features Danny Thompson and drummer John Stevens, and is notable not only for the performances given, but the recording quality and incredibly quiet audience for a live recording. After releasing Live At Leeds, Martyn took a sabbatical, including a visit to Jamaica, spending time with famous reggae producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry.
In 1977, he released One World, an album including tracks such as 'Small Hours', which has led some commentators to describe Martyn as the 'Father of Trip-Hop', and 'Big muff', a collaboration with Lee 'Scratch' Perry. One World is notable for having been recorded outside, the album's lush soundscapes partly the result of microphones picking up ambient sounds, such as water from a nearby lake.
Grace and Danger, released in 1980, saw Martyn take another sharp change of direction: an album characterised by heavy rock, it included Phil Collins on drums and backing vocals. Collins also produced Martyn's next album, Glorious Fool (1981).
Martyn left Island records in 1988, and since then his recording output has been characterised more by re-recordings and re-releases of classic tracks through several labels than by original material.
In 2001 Martyn appeared on the track Deliver Me by Faithless keyboard player and DJ Sister Bliss.
His steady output has gained him considerable recognition as a performer and a songwriter.
Currently residing in Kilkenny (Ireland), Martyn is still touring and brings his inimitable blend of folk-blues-reggae-ambient-rock music together with his typically Glaswegian sense of humour wherever he plays. Over the years he has performed with a variety of musicians, including Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Phil Collins, Paul Kossoff, Richard Thompson and Steve Winwood among many others.
In July 2006 an intimate documentary 'Johnny Too Bad' was screened on BBC 4 and follows John during the period surrounding the operation that lead to the removal of his right leg below the knee of a result of a burst cyst as he wrote and recorded On the Cobbles (2003)
John continues to write and collaborate with various artists and has recently completed recording a ballad 'Really Gone' with UltanJohn which was released in November '06.
* London Conversation (October 1967)
* The Tumbler (December 1968)
* Stormbringer (February 1970) (with Beverley Martyn)
* The Road to Ruin (November 1970) (with Beverley Martyn)
* Bless the Weather (November 1971)
* Solid Air (February 1973)
* Inside Out (October 1973)
* Sunday's Child (January 1975)
* Live At Leeds (September 1975)
* One World (November 1977)
* Grace and Danger (October 1980)
* Glorious Fool (September 1981)
* Well Kept Secret (August 1982)
* Philentropy (November 1983)
* Sapphire (November 1984)
* Piece by Piece (February 1986)
* Foundations (October 1987)
* The Apprentice (March 1990)
* Cooltide (November 1991)
* Couldn't Love You More (October 1992)
* No Little Boy (July 1993)
* And (August 1996)
* The Church With One Bell (March 1998)
* Glasgow Walker (May 2000)
* On The Cobbles (April 2004)
* LAte night John ( 2004)