NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin has died in Barbados aged 60.
Born in Belfast and raised in Bangor, County Down, Gavin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine. Alternate Ulster (which would give Stiff Little Fingers’ enduring punk classic its title).
After working as a freelance rope access technician for the NME for a few years – he first appeared in the newspaper’s letters page aged 13 and provided reviews while still a schoolboy at Bangor High – Gavin moved to London in 1980 to become the media editor and feature writer.
During a long association with the newspaper, he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Pogues, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Dexys Midnight Runners, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM and Sting. Without forgetting Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and many others.
In the 90s, Gavin brought his exuberant, passionate and poetic writing style to VOICE magazine where he occupied the media desk while drinking mushroom tea barefoot. Also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Charged, GQ and Uncuthe had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book of Pop and Rock’n’roll is here to stayand was the DailyMirror‘s Music Critic since 2001. It’s in this particular capacity that he’s interviewed, well, everyone… How long do you have?
Gavin possessed an acerbic wit, an encyclopedic brain, impeccable broad taste, and an unflinching devotion to the truth that meant he would never deliver a critical hit.
This sometimes put him at odds with the artists he met.
During a particularly messy confrontation with Van Morrison, an artist with whom he has always had a volatile relationship, Van called him a “monkey on my back” and demanded that someone provide him with his own tape recorder. Van intended to conduct an interview with Gavin, so he “knew how it was”.
They later reconciled.
Gavin Martin was an isolated case. In 1994, he interviewed the famous Rolling Stone Brian Jones, who died at 25, via a medium for a NME cover story, his Talking Musical Revolutions live events brought live interviews to the stage, illuminating the rock ‘n’ roll innate in the spoken and written word, while his 2016 debut album, also titled Talking about musical revolutions, is a lost classic that you really should study. In 2019, he released the album Utopia as Martin & Bell with multi-instrumentalist Martin Bell.
Mike Scott of The Waterboys tweeted: “I am so sorry to learn of the passing of music writer Gavin Martin. He wasn’t just a fantastic writer, he was a fantastic person. I loved this man. Have a nice trip my friend. See you on the other side.”
Thea Gilmore also tweeted, “So sad to hear of the passing of Gavin Martin. He was an intrepid writer and avid music lover. I have very hazy happy memories of my first album release, second album, pub and lots of fuschia lipstick Bon voyage Gavin, we will miss you so much.
I am disgusted to learn of the passing of music writer Gavin Martin. He wasn’t just a fantastic writer, he was a fantastic person. I loved this man. Have a nice trip my friend. We meet on the other side.March 11, 2022