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So where did it all begin ?
Martyn was born in his grandparents' house in Plymouth, Devon, and lived in Mombasa, Kenya for two years before settling in Bath, Somerset.
He bought an electric guitar when he was ten and started to learn the violin at eleven. After Hendrix died, the electric guitar was soon swapped for an acoustic and Donovan became a major influence, along with the Incredible String Band, Roy Harper, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Paxton. Learning fiddle tunes from Fairport Convention and other LP’s, (which soon destroyed these albums!), he formed “GULL MAC MORNA” with three school friends and they began playing around the local folk scene.
In 1974, he went to Warwick University and was roomed with Keith Donnelly from South Shields, who played acoustic guitar and shared the same musical tastes. Together they formed “WATERFALL”, and became residents of the University Folk Club, mixing songs by Jonathon Kelly, Gerry Rafferty, Al Stewart etc with traditional ballads and tunes, and gradually including their own original compositions.
WATERFALL were still playing whenever possible in folk clubs up and down the country, and in September 1977 they recorded their first LP THE FLIGHT OF THE DAY at Woodbine Studios, Leamington Spa. (Now available on CD see discography).
In February 1978, Martyn and Keith were playing at Lanchester Poly Folk Club in Coventry when they were stunned by the voice of one of the local floor singers, Gilly Darbey, and so WATERFALL became a trio, and were soon gigging full time.
On 1st November 1978 they had their first national radio broadcast on BBC Radio 1s Kid Jensen Show.
They recorded the LP THREE BIRDS in spring 1979, at Millsteam Studios in Cheltenham, produced by Johnny Coppin.
(Orams fiddle playing is appealing Melody Maker Album Review 6/10/79.)
Constantly travelling the length and breadth of England, playing in folk clubs and colleges, they also regularly toured in Germany, Belgium and Holland, where a live recording of a gig at the Matrix Folkclub, Rotterdam was broadcast on Holland's Radio Hilversum 3.
In 1980, WATERFALL played major support tours to The Hollies, Richard Digance and Gilbert OSullivan. Overseas tours now included Cyprus, Gibraltar, and ten days in Belize, an amazing experience, with one gig on the flight deck of HMS Glasgow, and another deep in the jungle, only accessable by helicopter.
In Spring 81 they recorded a new LP BENEATH THE STARS, at Gateway Studios, London, produced by Phillip Goodhand-Tait, from which Martyns composition MON COUER EST LA was selected for a 6 month play on British Airways world flights.
WATERFALL made their first TV appearance in 1981
on BBC Midlands Dennis McCarthys Weekly Echo,
and then on 24th July, BBC 1 broadcast a half hour Waterfall
Although critically acclaimed, and very popular on the folk scene, WATERFALL were unfortunately never able to break out to a wider audience, and the pressures of touring and sharing lives saw the group split in February 1982.
Martyn made his debut as a solo artist, singing two of his own songs ‘live’ on London’s Capital Radio in March 1982.
In April, he recorded his first solo LP “FLYING SOUTH” in Germany featuring twelve of his own songs. Southern Rag compared the LP to early Donovan and Art Garfunkel (Autumn ’82).
An acting debut swiftly followed in the
BBC Play “Another Flip For Dominick”, which also featured some of his original
music. Other small roles continued through the ‘80’s in “Moonfleet” (BBC),
“Lytton’s Diary” (Thames), “Gems” (Thames) and “The Benny Hill Show” (Thames)
In the spring of 1988, Martyn produced and recorded another nine of his own songs for his second solo LP “THE MEN WHO DREAM”, (mastered in Abbey Road Studios, London). (“Without doubt a thoughtful and talented songwriter who deserves interest” Rock ‘n’ Reel Issue 11).
In addition to solo gigs throughout England, in 1984, Martyn began playing regular tours in Europe as a duo with Walter F Diet, a German singer/songwriter and this was to be the beginning of a 17 year collaboration as ORAM & DIET. They recorded their first album “TOGETHER” in 1986.
In ‘85/86, Martyn toured as half of “THICKO & ROWNTREE” (“Pillocks ! Comedy singing duo had university audience in stitches ” The Sun, 28/9/85), with Ian Durrant , who 15 years later would join him in the LONDON PHILHARMONIC SKIFFLE ORCHESTRA.
A partnership began in 1988 with guitarist Mike Martin, firstly in London-based cajun band PEACE ON THE PANHANDLE (Stylish and musically stunning City Limits, March 88), and then as LUKE N FLOYD, a multi-instrumental roots country duo (First class fiddle The Stage and Television Today, 16/3/89). Mike and Martyn would later form the LPSO.
Martyn also occasionally still played with Martin Bell, Maart Allcock (later to join Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull, Mark Knopfler and Cat Stevens), Brillo, Fraser Nimmo, and Chris Haigh, amongst others.
Seeking a new adventure, Martyn and his family moved to Sydney, Australia for the whole of 1990, playing folk clubs throughout New South Wales. (“A great fiddle player” Sydney Morning Herald 4/5/90), ( “Fine musician and songwriter … writes songs that are listenable and pertinent “ Cornstalk, N.S.W. April ’90). During this time he added some violin to Margaret Walter’s CD “For The Future And The Past”.
Returning to Europe in 1991, he recorded a new CD in Germany called “PAWNS IN THE GAME” with Walter F. Diet, featuring in addition to his own songs, some jointly written with Walter, including the title track, half in German about two friends who find their countries at war with each other. 1993 saw Martyn and Walter add bass and drums to form the ORAM & DIET BAND, and they recorded the CD “OUR ROADIE’S IN TURKEY”.
In 1999, Martyn
and Walter added electric guitar to their sound, changed the bands
name to MAYBUG, and recorded a new CD "GOLFSTREAM" in Germany.
Martyn and Walter peformed in Massachusetts, USA for one week in May 2000, but after a partnership spanning nearly 20 years, ORAM & DIET / MAYBUG finally came to an end in October 2001, with Walter deciding to concentrate on his own music - check out www.maybug.de
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, LUKE ‘N’ FLOYD had appeared on “SKY TV” (Lyndsey De Paul: “nice looking fellas !”); at the 1991 Worthing Country Music Festival (“a truly remarkable performance of pure talent” British Country Music Roots Oct. 1991) and recorded their first album, “WOODLOUSE” in London in '93 (“multi-talented duo who don’t so much specialise as excel in a variety of country styles…an impressive collection of stylish and memorable self compositions and ace picking and fiddle playing and other acoustic delivery. Definitely worth the price of admission.” Rock ‘n’ Reel Autumn ’93).
Continued solo gigging throughout Britain, included Edward Heath's 80th Birthday Party, and on a train carrying the cast of Brookside to their 500th episode party!
2 solo CD's of Martyn's original songs :
In 2000, Martyn formed THE LONDON PHILHARMONIC SKIFFLE ORCHESTRA - presenting a show of musical madness ! Multi-instrumentality, funny songs, costume changes and comic props. They regularly perform throught Britain and Europe in Theatres, Festivals, Events and Television.
When Martyn told Brian May that people often comment that he looks like him, Brian said "Well, it's not that bad, is it !!"