The legendary guitarist and songwriter John Martyn has died at the age of 60, it was announced today.
Martyn, whose highly regarded albums include Solid Air, Inside Out and Grace And Danger, is understood to have died earlier today. He had been made an OBE in the recent New Year Honours list.
The gifted musician had been regarded as one of the UK's most innovative folk-blues performers but his mercurial talent was often blighted by his years of heavy drinking. He had to have his right leg amputated below the knee in recent years because of a burst cyst.
Martyn, born in New Malden, Surrey, bur raised in Glasgow, had been honoured at the BBC Folk Awards in 2008.
A statement on his website announced the news. It said: "With heavy heart and an unbearable sense of loss we must announce that John died this morning."
Paying tribute to Martyn, BBC Radio 2's folk presenter Mike Harding said:
"John Martyn was a true original, one of the giants of the folk scene. He could write and sing classics like 'May You Never' and 'Fairy Tale Lullaby' like nobody else, and he could sing traditional songs like Spencer The Rover in a way that made them seem new minted."
The 1973 album Solid Air was named the 67th best British album of all time in 2000 and was Martyn cemented his reputation with 1973's Solid Air, described as the "musical equivalent of a reassuring hug".
Martyn moved to London in his later teenage years and as a performer at the Soho folk club Les Cousins, he was a contemporary of artists such as Bert Jansch and Al Stewart. His debut album London Conversations in 1968 was released by Islands Records and he was Chris Blackwell's first white signing. But it was Solid Air which became his best known work five years later, featuring a title track dedicated to friend Nick Drake.
His life soon became more or less dependent on drinking which would occasionally leave him barely coherent as he performed. Yet he still continued to write and play with collaborations over the years with Ringo Starr, David Gilmour. He even contributed his vocals to a top 40 hit with Sister Bliss of Faithless.
Following the loss of his leg, he continued to perform from a wheelchair.
(photograph Elliot Clowes)
Here he is in action on the Old Grey Whistle Test
1:43 PM | 29/01/2009
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