On January 30, 2005, Martyn Bennett passed away.
I realize that 99.9% of you will have never heard of him, but to me and many others he was a musical genius. He was among the first artists to successfully fuse traditional Celtic music with house and drum-n-bass, and both his self-titled album and the follow-up Bothy Culture were brilliant. The latter album in particular stayed in my CD player almost constantly from the time I was 16 until the CD was physically broken when I was around 21.
I found out about a year ago that he’d been diagnosed with cancer (Hodgkins Lymphoma, according to the BBC tribute), but like many of his fans I’m sure we all hoped that he’d beat the odds. Unfortunately, fate dictated otherwise.
I still remember one interview I heard when I was 14 or so, on the NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock, where Martyn was discussing his inspirations and his background. One random sentence sticks clearly in my head: “Jazz…Jazz is very much a player’s thing…” Martyn went well beyond playing for players and made music that belonged to the people, without sinking to the commercialism that pervades most modern ‘popular’ music.
Well, Martyn, here’s to you. You will be missed.
Rest in peace.