Marty Willson-Piper

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Marty Willson-Piper
Born (1958-05-07) 7 May 1958 (age 58)
Stockport, Greater Manchester, England
Genres Rock
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass guitar
Years active 1980–present
Labels Um & Ah Records
Survival Records
Festival Records
Heyday Records
Associated acts The Church
All About Eve
Sweet Gum Tree

Marty Willson-Piper is an English guitarist and singer best known as a long-time member of the Australian psychedelic rock band The Church. While he was not a founding member of the band, he joined in 1980 after seeing an early gig where they were performing as a three-piece. He was an integral member of the band for over 30 years. He was also the guitarist for the English alternative rock band All About Eve from 1991 to 1993 and again from 1999 to 2002.

Early life[edit]

Marty was born in Stockport, Greater Manchester, 6 miles from the city centre on the 7th May 1958 and grew up as a teenager in Thingwall on The Wirral about 7 miles from Liverpool’s city centre. He has a brother who is 7 years older and his mother had another child in between who died soon after birth who was named Robin. Marty also has a sister.

When he was 3 years old the family moved from Compstall, where his parents had a pub called The Commercial, to a house just outside Marple Bridge near Glossop.

Sometime around 1970 the family moved again to Birch Vale in Derbyshire, a small village between New Mills and Hayfield where his parents took on another pub after his father lost his job when the company he worked for went bankrupt. The pub was called The Grouse Hotel.

Unfortunately this period of his life was short-lived, as his dad got a job in Liverpool and the family packed up from this old pub in the country and moved into a small flat in Thingwall on the Wirral Peninsula between Heswall and Arrowe Park.

At 14 he was taught the guitar by his brother who was a member of a cabaret band called The Hiltons. Marty soon started his own band called Uncle Rufus with school friends Dare and David Mason.

After leaving school at 18, Marty worked various jobs including stints at Walls ice cream factory and being a door to door salesman. He soon travelled to mainland Europe ( France, Spain and Germany) busking outside train stations and working odd jobs such as grape collecting.

Moving to London and still busking he was persuaded to go to Australia and arrived in Sydney in April 1980 aged 21.

Marty went along to see an early performance of The Church (then a three-piece) and was asked to join the band a few days before his 22nd birthday in May 1980.

The Church[edit]

On May 6 1980, Willson-Piper joined The Church on guitar, vocals and bass guitar, alongside Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes and Nick Ward.[1][2] Willson-Piper's sound was influenced by guitarists such as Tom Verlaine and Bill Nelson.[3]

Willson-Piper contributed to most of the Church's studio releases and was a member almost continuously from 1980 to 2013. The only exception is the 1997 album Pharmakoi/Distance-Crunching Honchos with Echo Units, which only featured Kilbey, Koppes and drummer Tim Powles and was released as "The Refo:mation". Willson-Piper's last release with the Church was the 2014 live album A Psychedelic Symphony: Live at Sydney Opera House, recorded in 2011.

Kilbey announced on the band's Facebook page that former Powderfinger guitarist Ian Haug had replaced Willson-Piper, who Kilbey explained was "not available" for the recording of a new album and subsequent touring.[4] Entitled Further/Deeper, the Church's first album without Willson-Piper was released in October 2014.[5]

Solo career and Noctorum[edit]

Willson-Piper has maintained a steady solo output since the mid-1980s, having releasing six solo studio albums and three live solo albums. He released his latest solo album, Nightjar, in March 2009 on Second Motion Records. Three of his albums are collaborations with long-time friend Andy 'Dare' Mason (who has produced and played on Willson-Piper's solo releases) under the name Noctorum.

Side projects and collaborations[edit]

Willson-Piper appeared on the single "(Just like) Surf City" by James Griffin and the Subterraneans in 1985. He produced the 1987 album Blood Red Roses for the band Bell Jar. He performed on Black In Sunshine (1988) and wrote "Hidden Treasures" (1990) for Swedish singer Ann Carlberger, who is also Willson-Piper's ex-partner. He worked with Swedish musician Martin Rössel, with whom he ran a recording studio in Stockholm, and plays guitar on My Eyes (1988) and Paradiset (1989), as well as co-writing "Spegel" and "Kiss The Moon" (1989). Jules Shear's 1989 album The Third Party consist entirely of one acoustic guitar track, played by Willson-Piper, and one vocal track by Shear.

Willson-Piper played on several tracks on Tom Verlaine's 1990 album The Wonder, but is uncredited. He spent two stints as guitarist for UK rock group All About Eve, playing on their 1991 album Touched By Jesus, 1992's Ultraviolet, Fairy Light Nights 1 & 2, Live and Electric at the Union Chapel in 2001 as well as their Live In Bonn 1991 DVD. He was also in the offshoot band "Seeing Stars". With Aimee Mann he co-wrote the song "Could've Been Anyone" and appeared on Mann's first album, 1993's Whatever. He wrote "The Sensual Hour" and "Sticks And Stones" in 1994 for The Infidels.

He was the co-writer of the song "Battersea" for All About Eve singer Julianne Regan's side project Mice in 1996, as well as appearing on the tracks "Miss World" and "Dark Place".

He played lead guitar on Scratch's 1996 song "We Got Fooled Again".

He was a co-writer of the song "Knock Me Out" on 4NonBlondes singer Linda Perry's 1996 album In Flight.

He wrote and produced three tracks (and played on two) for Brix Smith's 1997 album Happy Unbirthday, as well as co-writing and singing on most of the tracks on her 2007 album Neurotica.

He played lead guitar on The Volares 1998 track "Open Book".

He worked with David Gedge's Cinerama on their first album, 1998's Va Va Voom, and plays on seven tracks.

He produced seven tracks on album Elvis, Halleluja and Hurrah (1998) for Håkan Ahlström, as well as playing on five of them.

In 1999, Willson-Piper contributed electric guitar to the Paul Mauriat song "Love Is Blue", as recorded by Roxanne Fontana in New York City. The track was produced by former Rascals drummer Dino Danelli. Again, in 2000, Willson-Piper contributed to the Roxanne Fontana album Souvenirs d'Amour, engineered by Gordon Raphael; he contributed backing vocals to the track "Dreaming She", and 12-string acoustic guitar on Fontana's cover version of Ralph McTell's "Michael in the Garden".

He produced Justin Clayton's 1999 album Limb and guests on the track "Shallow World".

For Swedish act Moderna Män, Willson-Piper produced, recorded and mixed their 2000 album, Entré.

In 2003 Willson-Piper recorded the song "Motorcycle" with Australian band Urban Folk Collective for their album Black Rabbit.

In 2004 Willson-Piper featured on the tracks "Who Knew the World Would End" and "All Your Kingdom" on Edward Roger's album Sunday Fables' and again in 2008 on the follow up You Haven't Been Where I've Been, on the tracks "Graveyard Voices" and "What Happened To Manfred What Happened To Jane".

He contributed guitar solos to Rob Dickinson's single "Oceans" (2005) and The Gronk's "Touch the Sun" (2008).

In 2005, Willson-Piper joined veteran Australian band The Saints to record an album Nothing Is Straight In My House, as well as co-writing the track "Passing Strange". Willson-Piper also joined the band for the following tour.

In 2006 Willson-Piper performed on the tracks "Martha's Harbour" and "Circle" on the White Rose Transmission album Bewitched And Bewildered.

Willson-Piper recorded the duet "Beatles and Stones" with Norwegian singer Marte Heggelund in 2008, for her album Treason.

In 2009 he contributed a four-page story entitled "Keep On Truckin'" to the book "Hitchers Of Oz".

Willson-Piper features in the 2010 book "Rickenbacker 12: The Story Of The Guitars, The Music, The Great Players" in a two-page interview. He made a guest appearance on Mehal's 2011 album Oranges And Seals' on the tracks "Touch", "We Come From Here" and "Hippy Tree".

Willson-Piper is currently lead singer with Swedish band Moat, releasing a self-titled debut album in October 2013. A track from this album entitled "Try And Make Sense" was used in the Swedish police television drama "Arne Dahl" in the final episode of series one entitled "Europa Blues".

In 2014 Willson-Piper was part of French band Sweet Gum Tree, recording the album The Snakes You Charm and the Wolves You Tame as well as joining the band for their subsequent tour.

He appeared with his own jam band, Marty Willson-Piper's Acres Of Space, at the 35th anniversary of Pet Sounds Record Store in Stockholm in November 2014.

He makes a guest appearance on Swedish progressive rock band Anekdoten's new album entitled Until All The Ghosts Are Gone, released April 2015, and joined the band for a tour.

Willson-Piper is worked with Moat on their most recent album. In September 2015, Willson-Piper embarked on a tour of the United States under the moniker of Acres Of Space, featuring his eldest daughter Signe Carlberger on backing vocals. He then joined Swedish prog rock band Anekdoten for a tour of Japan in November 2015.



  • In Reflection – Um & Ah Records (UM-7) (1987)
  • Art Attack – Survival Records (462450.1) (1988) (Rykodisc CD 20042 includes 6 bonus tracks from In Reflection). Personnel include Ann Carlberger, Andy Mason, David Leone, Barton Price (from Australian band Models), Martin Rössel.
  • RhymeFestival Records (L 30346) (1989) (Rykodisc CD RCD 10114). Personnel include Andy Mason and Christian Falk.
  • Spirit Level (1992) (Rykodisc CD 10197). Personnel include Sebastian Oberg, Andres Herneston, Ann Carlberger and others.
  • Hanging Out in Heaven – Heyday Records (HEY 046) (2000). No singles were released from this album.
  • Nightjar – Heyday Records (2008)
  • "Hanging Out In Heaven" to be reissued in 2016 on coloured double vinyl with bonus tracks.

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • She's King (1988). Tracks: Official release tracks: 'She's King' 3:37; 'Listen/Space' 5:00; 'Frightened Just Because of You' 2:54. (The first two tracks are as included on the Art Attack album; 'Frightened Just because of You' is here an alternate version). The USA-only Ryko Records RBD-0423 radio promo version of the e.p. featured 'She's King'; 'Too Round to Be Square'; and 'On the Tip of My Tongue' (which are all from Art Attack).
  • On the Tip of My Tongue (1988) (from Art Attack)
  • Questions Without Answers (1989) (from Rhyme)
  • Melancholy Girl (1989) (from Rhyme)
  • Luscious Ghost e.p. (1992). Tracks: 'Luscious Ghost' (5:05) (from Spirit level); 'In Circles' 3:34; Luscious Ghost (unfinished version) 4:52
  • I Can't Cry (1992) (from Spirit Level)
  • Pegasus e.p. (2008) (from Nightjar)

Live Recordings[edit]

  • Live at the Fine Line CafeHeyday Records (2000) Recorded live at The Fine Line Cafe, Minneapolis, Minnesota on 15 February 1990.

Tracks: St. Germain/Frightened Just Because of You/Water/Melody of the Rain/I Can't Cry/10,000 Miles/You Whisper/Questions Without Answers/Time Is Imaginary/To Where I Am Now/On The Tip Of My Tongue/Here Come the Tears.

  • Live At The Knitting Factory – Heyday Records (2000)

Tracks: I Know I Won't/She's King/You Whisper/Time Is Imaginary/St Germaine/The Air Between Us/Say/Evil Queen Of England/10,000 Miles/Spark

  • Live From The Other Side – Um & Ah Records (UM-22) (2004) Recorded live in 2003 at the Sandringham Hotel, Newtown, Sydney.

Seeing Stars[edit]

  • Seeing Stars (1997). This sole eponymous album is essentially by the band All About Eve, minus their vocalist Julianne Regan.


  • Sparks Lane (2004)
  • Offer the Light (2006)
  • Honey Mink Forever (2011)

The Saints[edit]

Other projects[edit]

  • Moat – Moat ( 2013 )
  • Sweet Gum Tree – The Snakes You Charm and the Wolves You Tame (2014)
  • AnekdotenUntil All The Ghosts Are Gone (2015)


  1. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Marty Willson-Piper". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "The Church". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland, Ore.: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.153.
  4. ^ Lauren Ziegler (26 November 2013). "The Church's Steve Kilbey replaces Marty Willson-Piper with Powderfinger's Ian Haug". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Jonny Nail (14 October 2014). "Exclusive Stream: The Church 'Further/Deeper'". Rolling Stone Australia. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 

External links[edit]