Notable Deaths


January 31, 2009


British singer and songwriter

British singer-songwriter John Martyn, whose soulful songs were covered by the likes of Eric Clapton, died Thursday in Ireland. Mr. Martyn's official Web site announced the musician's death, but it did not give a cause of death.

A skilled guitarist and earthy vocalist influenced by folk, blues and jazz, Mr. Martyn performed with - and was admired by - musicians including Mr. Clapton, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Phil Collins.

He took up the guitar in his teens, moved to London and released a series of enduring albums, including The Road to Ruin and Solid Air, regarded by some critics as one of the best British albums of the 1970s.

Mr. Martyn never became a household name, but his songs were praised by critics and highly regarded by other musicians. One of the best known, "May You Never," was recorded by Mr. Clapton and a host of other artists.

Mr. Martyn had suffered health problems in recent years, and in 2003 had a leg amputated below the knee because of a burst cyst. He continued to perform, appearing at last year's Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.

Last month, Mr. Martyn was named an OBE - Officer of the Order of the British Empire - by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to music.

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