W is for …


What the F**k???!!!

Here’s a great snippet from Graham L. Do you recall anything similar? I’ll probably need JR’s help here unless anyone else recalls, but there was a Heineken Festival on the common years back where John Martyn played a set, but then got pissed backstage  – here’s where I need the help – and during someone else’s set (singer-songwriter bloke ???) wandered on stage completely out of it. For a time it seemed he wasn’t going to leave!

Similar memories?

Led Zep


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

7 thoughts on “W is for …

  1. I did a gig a bit like that once at a Youth Club. I’m supplying no details here to protect the guilty – suffice to say that particular band could be quite lively at times, but a couple of the guys were pretty quiet, sober and sensible. Except for this night. They’d taken something to render them pretty well out of it and our normal six-piece performed minus two, while they wandered about in a dream. I seem to remember the youth club boss being somewhat less than impressed. I don’t think we shared the gig money with them!

  2. John Martyn headlined on the Friday night. Ron Kavana and band (who were tremendous) closed the festival on Sunday evening. Mr. Martyn staggered on for a slightly ragged version of, I think, Man Smart, Women Smarter and was then escorted from the stage. Those Heineken festivals were great fun and all for nuffink!

  3. Ron Kavana STILL talks about that night! He basically told John to get off the fucking stage or he’d lump him! Mind you, Ron SHOULD know how to deal with drunken musos – he was in The Pogues for a while with Shane MacGowan!!!
    I’ve been Ron ‘s manager/agent/friend for some time – he often plays sessions in my town (he now lives back in his home town, Fermoy, in Co. Cork) and supported Banana from The Youngbloods at a gig I organised here in County Clare (a mutual admiration society was formed that night).
    “Johnny & Ronnie” knew each other for years – and for the last few years of his life John was living in a nearby village to Ron.
    However, getting back to 15th August, 1991, John Martyn should have been top of the bill at The Heineken, but he’d done an entire bottle of Bacardi before the gig, so it was deemed a bit dodgy to wait any longer, so he was brought on early. He’d been wandering around during the festival earlier, steadily drinking. Hazel O’Connor (who also now lives in Ireland) was there too. John had a pretty tasty band with him, including Gerry Conway on drums, Alan Thomson on bass, Spencer Cozens on keyboards -all now with Jaqui McShee’s Pentangle (and Gerry’s with Fairport Convention too) – and the American saxophonist Dave Lewis. It was around the time John had released his “Cooltide ” album ,which he’s recorded with these guys.
    Sadly, he was really too pissed to do the gig well… I have a bootleg of it that I recorded – partial only, as I got disappointed with his embarrassing incoherent ramblings and turned the recorder off.
    John could be a really obnoxious bastard when pissed. A friend of mine, Eoin Maloney, had a pub in Scarriff, County Clare, where Pye Hastings from Caravan lived. Pye took us to a gig in Limerick to see John play, (where he made a classic “Spinal Tap” like intro “Hello Lime Rick!”). Backstage after the gig Pye and Eoin were and found out that Eoin had a pub. It was a “Well, what are we waiting for?” moment. So… back to the pub….. (no closing time in Maloney’s..) where he necked at least a bottle of Bacardi. Next day he was in again, and hitting the Bacardi hard again. I was there with Steve, a mate of mine who’s a bit of a rural Irish hippie. Steve had a very worn tweed jacket that looked as if it was moulded to the contours of his body. John took a liking to it. “How much for the jacket?” Steve said “It’s not for sale”. “I’ll give you 50 punts for it” (shows how long ago THIS was – pre euro!). “No”, said Steve “It’s not for sale and it’s not worth anything like 50 punts”, John walked behind him, grabbed the jacket and ripped it straight up the back seam. “Yeah, you’re right..” he said “Worth fuck all now”. Steve just walked out. So did most of the pub, including me…..
    Towards the end of his life – after he’d lost his leg – he used to get dropped in town with his wheelchair and drink in every pub until he was thrown out then get a taxi home. He treated his wife like shit…. Not a nice man towards the end, but when my first wife was involved with the Centre Folk Club in the early 70’s (working for Dave Keast) I saw him there a couple of times and he was wonderful and very pleasant…. Some people don’t mix well with alcohol.

    • It’s a very sad story, he had some talent. It’s always seemed odd to me that while it’s perfectly legal for someone to fuck-up his own (and others’) lives through alcohol – and he’s by no means the only one – it’s a criminal offence to get nicely stoned on decent dope (not the silly stuff) without causing any great problem beyond making excessive demands on the local sweet shop.

  4. Here’s the nice side of John Martyn from about the same era…. He’d been in the Lord Nelson in Hastings, on the piss with some local fishermen, drinking Special Brew. They persuaded him to do a free concert on the beach there and then for The R.N.L.I. Apparently he played all afternoon, and went round with a welly boot collecting money for The R.N.L.I. to boot! (sorry… bad pun).

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