Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Beverley Martyn

"Beverley Martyn has led an incredible life: a beautiful woman and talented
singer-songwriter she was also muse, friend or partner to some of the greatest recording artists of the past forty years....Bert Jansch, Paul Simon, Nick Drake and of course her husband John Martyn. Along the way she played at the Monterey Festival in 1967...."

Below - Beverley on the cover of Bert Jansch It Don't Bother me album 1965 (thanks to Dave Cooper for that information)

"Beverley Martyn (born Beverley Kutner on 24 March 1947) is an English singer, songwriter and
Beverley Martyn in the 1970's
guitarist. Beverley 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. 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.

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.

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)

Below is a link to an interesting and recent interview with Beverley Martyn

In this cutting from a Coventry paper in the mid 60's (via The Broadgate Gnome A to Z of Coventry Bands), Beverley says "My band will be the best in England" and her early records had the likes of Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones on, long before Led Zeppelin came along and Nicky Hopkins. "Good artistic pop records can be made and I am trying to prove this." Her early association with Donovan resulted in her recording Donovan's Museum in 1967. Perhaps her two lines in Paul Simon's song Fakin' It "Good morning Mr Leitch, have you had a busy day" was a reference to Donovan Leitch. 

Another cutting, also from The Broadgate Gnome A to z Site 

Beverley's sister ran the Hub Boutique in Coventry  and the above article by the Coventry Standard in 1967 was conducted in a Coventry Precinct cafe not long after her return from San Francisco during which she recorded with Paul Simon and appeared at Monterey and appreciated by the Monkees.

Pete Willow, writing in Folks magazine (Coventry folk magazine Jan/Feb 1979) covered the history of the Coventry folk scene (his articles and magazines posted on this blog), included another cutting -

The Daily Sketch (Aug 23rd 1966) ran an article headed 'Now Beverley has the key to the top' which
read: " If there was an award for sheer will to win in the pop business it would this year to an 18 year old singer billed simply as Beverley. Just a year ago she came to London and Demmy Cordell, who makes discs for Georgie Fame and the Moody Blues, heard her sing in a club. Cordell told me: "I offered her a recording contract. She is the only person, other than Georgie and the Moodies, I've wanted to record. "But Beverley told him: 'I'm going away - I'll see you when i think I'm ready'..Beverley went back to her home in Coventry with a guitar - which Denny Laine of the Moody Blues had given her - and learned to play. Now she is rated by Jimmy Page of the Yardbirds, as ' the best girl guitarist' he's heard."

Pete Willow comments - "Here is a typical selection of other cuttings about the lady, proving the press moves in mysterious way: She's an 18 year old Chelsea-looking brunette from Coventry who has just cut her
first record. The title is 'Happy new year' (Deram)." " Beverley......wore a cool black satin pajama suit - with enormous flapping trousers - at London airport yesterday. To keep away the chill winter breezes she wore a snug fox fur on top. Beverley was flying to Munich to make a broadcast and make promote her new record....""She admires Donovan's interpretations and was particularly thrilled when, in a London club recently, he stepped from the audience and offered to accompany her on guitar." "Beverley...claims that at 20 she has at last found her real self thanks to the Love Thy neighbour hippies of San Francisco. Beverley has just returned from Hippie-land after taking part in the Monterey pop Festival."

It seemed for a while that Beverly was in the limelight of press attention and attracting a lot of interest in the
national folk/rock scene. When she married and worked with John Martyn, interest in her from the music media fell and lost much of its previous intensity. The sleeve notes on John and Beverley's album Stormbringer simply refer to the fact that she once worked for a jug band in Coventry. Mentioning no names."

A few memories from Dave Cooper of  Dando Shaft
"Bev and John had a basement flat in West Hampstead. I had a brief meeting there with Nick Drake in '71. Bev had been mates with Ted Kaye of Dando Shaft in Coventry. She was the perfect Hippy Chic icon, stunning, and a great voice. Bev is also on the cover of Bert Jansch's 1965 album "It Don't Bother Me" Glad she succeeded in releasing "The Phoenix And The Turtle" earlier this year.


As fairytale as Beverley's musical career appears, she tells a more reveals a more disturbing side to her life in her biography published in 2011 - Sweet Honesty -

"Sweet Honesty - The Beverley Martyn Story ... as told to Jaki da Costa. Beverley was a rising star in
the 1960s' British folk/rock music scene when she met and married singer/songwriter John Martyn, who died in 2009. For years she kept silent about the abusive relationship they shared. Here she tells her story in her own words, taking us from her childhood in post-war Coventry through the making of classic albums "Stormbringer!" and "Road to Ruin" to today, where she survives as a woman beaten but not bowed and still a gifted musician in her own right." Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweet-Honesty-Beverley-Martyn-Story/dp/1907211888

You can read some sample chapters on the Amazon kindle version on the above site too. Another review on Amazon -

"Beverley Martyn has led an incredible life: a beautiful woman and talented singer-songwriter she was also muse, friend or partner to some of the greatest recording artists of the past forty years....Bert Jansch, Paul Simon, Nick Drake and of course her husband John Martyn. Along the way she played at the Monterey Festival in 1967 and also endured ten years of marriage with an abusive husband that eventually led her to have a breakdown, near destitute and in a mental hospital."

The Music - Early singles from the mid 1960's -

Tomorrow Time 

Beverley Martyn - Picking Up the Sunshine Monterey Pop Festival 1967

This is Donovan's version of his song which Beverley covered.

Beverley Martyn appears on this Simon and Garfunkle track as the voice that says "Good morning Mr Leitch, have you had a busy day" and possibly some backing vocals.

A song she wrote with Nick Drake which was unfinished.

Beverley talks about the song she wrote with Nick Drake here 
and in this video Interview

From her new album The Phoenix and The Turtle 2014

Visit Beverley Martyn's site for photos / live dates / audio / the new album and bio etc. 

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