Mildly amazing guitar player. Kind of folk, kind of jazz, kind of rock, mostly unique. His first album was London Conversation, released in 1968 when he was 18. If you can find a copy, listening to it is, well, it's like the first time you ever had Thai food. You know what all those things are, you've just never encountered them in quite that arrangement. Then skip forward a few years and albums to 1973, and find a copy of Solid Air. Listen to the title cut, written as a message to his good friend Nick Drake. Remember that it's the same guy who did the other album. Reassemble your brain.
John Martyn has recorded over 200 songs on 26 albums (to date); virtually all of them are his own compositions (Don't Think Twice It's Alright on London Conversation is a notable exception), but artists from America (Head and Heart) to Eric Clapton (May You Never) have covered his tunes.
He was born Iain McGeachy in 1948 in New Malden Surrey and was raised in Glasgow. His first agent told him he should change his name; he looked around the room and spotted a Martin guitar, which he'd always loved, and decided to take that name spelled with a y. The subsitution of "John" for "Iain" was easy, as "Iain" is the Gaelic equivalent of "John".
People who have played with Martyn on his albums include the aforementioned Clapton, Phil Collins, David Gilmour, Levon Helm, Albert Lee, Dave Mattacks, Jacqui McShee, Pierre Moerlen, Robert Palmer, Richard Thompson, and Steve Winwood.
John was voted "World's Most Ballsiest Opening Act" by a Fairport Convention mailing list in 1999. He was chosen because he opened for Pink Floyd on the Wish You Were Here tour (1975). A report from the July 5 Knebworth Park show said, "John Martyn walks on stage carrying an acoustic guitar, calmly sits down in a chair as thousands of stoned, impatient Floyd fans scream "We don't want fucking FOLK music, we want the FLOYD." Plugs into a huge panel of effects boxes, turns up to 11 and proceeds to blow everyone away for 25 minutes. Gets a huge standing ovation."