Thursday, January 29, 2009

Singer-guitarist John Martyn dies at 60; John Paul Jones sat in with him a year ago

It did go unnoticed at a year ago when John Paul Jones paid tribute to John Martyn upon the occasion of the singer-songwriter and guitarist's Lifetime Achievement award, presented at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards on Feb. 4, 2008.

But it is mentioned now, upon the occasion of John's Martyn's passing earlier today. He was 60.

From what I can glean, the man's music defied categorization, which is something I have always admired about Led Zeppelin's music as well. I wasn't familiar with John Martyn's work, but leave it to John Paul Jones to select a good muse.

Jones showed up at the event to present the Musician of the Year award to melodeon player Andy Cutting, but the Led Zeppelin multi-instrumentalist stuck around to sit in with John Martyn's band and lend his mandolin for two songs, "Over the Hill" and "May You Never."

Phil Collins presented Martyn that night with the annual Lifetime Achievement award. Collins had assisted Martyn by producing two of his solo albums, Grace and Danger in 1980 and Glorious Fool in 1981.

As the Folk Awards evening went on, Martyn appeared to be in a jovial mood, resting his award on top of his head while an interviewer and film crew tried to maintain a serious composure, surveying him about his thoughts on the evening's festivities. At the mention of John Paul Jones's name, Martyn lost balance and the award slipped off his head.

Jones, meanwhile, said he was glad to be at the awards and have the opportunity to follow Martyn's footsteps and become immersed in the contemporary folk music scene.

Below is a classic performance of "May You Never" from 1973, with Martyn performing it on The Old Grey Whistle Test, in support of his album Solid Air.

Eric Clapton covered "May You Never" on his 1978 album, Slowhand. Clapton later appeared on Martyn's aforementioned Glorious Fool album.

Below is a photo of Martyn's onstage performance with John Paul Jones at the Folk Awards on Feb. 4, 2008. Both of the songs Martyn and Jones performed at the Folk Awards were from that album.

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