Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Jango Song Of The Day-John Martyn
Song:I'd Rather Be The Devil
Album:Sweet Little Mysteries: The Island Anthology
John Martyn started out as a standard British folksinger in the 60s but transcended the genre with some innovative albums in the 70s that added jazz and electronic elements. He was born Iain David McGeachey Sept. 11, 1948 in New Malden, Surrey, England. His parents were both opera singers and they divorced when he was five so he spent most of his childhood with his grandmother in Glasgow, Scotland. He was mentored by Scottish folksinger Hamish Imlach and eventually moved to London where he was spotted by Island Records owner Chris Blackwell and Martyn was the first white solo artist signed to the label. His early albums are fairly standard folk music. But his music changed when he started exploring jazz and using an Echoplex with his guitar and playing over tape loops. He recorded a couple of albums with wife Beverly but Blackwell suggested he would be more successful as a solo artist. And it was also at this time that Martyn began his long association with Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson who added a lot of jazz elements. Martyn's 1973 album Solid Air got him a lot of attention in England and includes his classic May You Never which was covered by Eric Clapton. Though Martyn wrote most of his own songs, I'd Rather Be The Devil is a Skip James song. Martyn continued to record his eclectic music in the 70s but alcohol and drugs led to the breakup of his marriage and Martyn left Island in 1981. Phil Collins got him a contract with WEA and produced his 1981 album Glorious Fool. It was more commercial that his Island recordings and Martyn was criticized as a sellout. He went back to Island in 1984 and recorded there until 1988. This 2CD comp covers his Island recordings. He continued to record for independent labels even after his leg was amputated below the knee due to a burst cyst. John Martyn received a lifetime achievement award from the BBC Radio 2 Folk awards in 2008 and died of pneumonia on Jan. 29, 2009 at age 60. Here's John Martyn performing I'd Rather Be The Devil on The Old Grey Whistle Test 1973.