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|Birth name||Beverley Kutner|
March 24, 1947 |
|Genres||Folk, folk rock|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, guitarist|
|Associated acts||John Martyn|
Early life and career
Martyn was born near Coventry. While still a student, she was picked to front The Levee Breakers, a jug band featuring Mac McGann and Johnny Joyce, who played the folk circuit in south east England. At the age of 16 she recorded her first single. "Babe I'm Leaving You", which was released on the Parlophone label in 1965.
Martyn was then signed as a solo artist to the Deram Records label. In 1966 she released a single, "Happy New Year" (b-side "Where The Good Times Are"), written by Randy Newman, on which she was accompanied by Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Andy White. "Happy New Year" was chosen, together with "I Love My Dog" by Cat Stevens, to launch Deram as the progressive branch of Decca Records (see references). She also recorded an unreleased single in the same year, "Picking Up The Sunshine" / "Gin House Blues". These last two tracks also featured John Renbourn and Mike Lease. During this period she was taught the guitar by the folk guitarist Bert Jansch who also encouraged her songwriting. Her follow-up single "Museum", written by Donovan was released in 1967, produced by Denny Cordell.
Closely involved with the folk scene at the time, she met Paul Simon who invited her to New York where she contributed to the track "Fakin' It" on the Simon & Garfunkel album Bookends on which she says in the middle of the song, "Good morning, Mr Leitch, have you had a busy day?" She later appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival on 16 June 1967, as did Simon & Garfunkel.
With John Martyn
In 1969 she met John Martyn, whom she later married. As a duo they issued two albums, Stormbringer! and The Road to Ruin both of which were released on Island Records. Following The Road to Ruin, Island persuaded John Martyn to resume his career as a solo artist because they believed that there was more public interest in solo singer/songwriters. Although she was spending more time with her children, Martyn continued to contribute to her husband's solo projects until the breakdown of their marriage. The couple divorced during the making of John Martyn's album Grace and Danger in 1980 and she retired from music for years.
Return to music
In the 1990s, with her children now grown, she was invited to join Loudon Wainwright III on his European tour. In 1998 she resumed her recording career with the release of the album No Frills.
In 2004 Martyn's song "Primrose Hill" about the simple joys of domesticity, which she wrote and sang on Road To Ruin, was sampled by Fat Boy Slim for the track "North West Three" on his 2004 album Palookaville.
At various times, Martyn has worked with Levon Helm, Jimmy Page, Dave Pegg, Richard Thompson, John Renbourn, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham and Sandy Denny. She appeared in the photograph on the album sleeve of Bert Jansch's 1965 album It Don't Bother Me; where she can be seen lounging in the background.
On 3 December 2013 she performed the song "Levee Breaks" with her band at the concert A Celebration Of Bert Jansch at London's Royal Festival Hall alongside Robert Plant, Donovan and various members of Pentangle, amongst others. The concert was broadcast by BBC4 in the UK on 28 March 2014 under the name The Genius of Bert Jansch: Folk Blues and Beyond.
Martyn released a new album in 2014 entitled The Phoenix and The Turtle. The album features a previously unrecorded Nick Drake and Martyn song, "Reckless Jane". The album features bass by Matt Malley (Counting Crows), drums by Victor Bisetti (Los Lobos), acoustic guitars by Mark Pavey, electric guitars by Jakob Nebel and Michael Watts with strings by Owain Roberts.
- "Babe, I'm Leaving You" (McGann) / "Wild About My Lovin'" (Trad. Arr. Joyce) (June 1965 with the Levee Breakers)
- "Happy New Year" (Newman) / "Where The Good Times Are" (Martyn) (September 1966 as "Beverley")
- "Picking Up The Sunshine" / "Gin House" (1966 as "Beverley"; unreleased)
- "Museum" (Leitch) / "A Quick One For Sanity" (by "D. Cordell Tea Time Ensemble") (July 1967 as "Beverley")
- Stormbringer! (February 1970 with John Martyn)
- The Road to Ruin (November 1970 with John Martyn)
- No Frills (1998)
- The Phoenix and the Turtle (2014)
- Sweet Honesty - The Beverley Martyn Story; published 7 January 2011, retrieved 22-04-14
- "Monterey Festival: Who Was There". Muso Page. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
- Harris, Craig. "Biography: Beverley Martyn". Allmusic. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- John Martyn: guitarist and singer. The Times, 30 January 2009, p. 75, "Obituaries".
- The Observer; published 8 December 2013, retrieved 28-04-14
- Folk Radio; published 25 March 2014, retrieved 23-04-14
- The Guardian Review; published 17 April 2014, retrieved 22 April 14