Robin Hood’s Bay

Martin Carthy


Martin Carthy is regarded as one of the finest singers and interpreters of British traditional music and an innovative and highly influential guitar player. He was born on 21st May 1941, at Hatfield in Hertfordshire. He gradually drifted into performing in the coffee house scene around London during the late '50s and early '60s. Like thousands of others skiffle music attracted him to this scene but a seminal moment occurred when Martin heard Sam Larner perform in London. Soon, Martin was drawn towards the traditional music of the British Isles. He joined a group called the Thameside Four, and sang with them for three years. By the early 1960s he was resident at The Troubadour Folk Club in Earl's Court where his playing and singing had a significant effect on many musicians, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon who, respectively, adapted ‘Lord Franklin’ and ‘Scarborough Fair’ for their own records.

Martin made his first solo album Martin Carthy in 1965, recording this and his second album with Dave Swarbrick (Swarb). This duo began regular touring of the folk clubs that were springing up throughout Britain. The two ended up recording six albums and an extended-play single between 1966 and 1969.

From 1970-72, Martin was a member of Steeleye Span with whom he first played electric guitar. In 1972, he left Steeleye and began recording on his own again. That same year, he married Norma Waterson and became a member of her family's folk-singing group, the Watersons, of which he has remained an active member. He also became a member of the Albion Band, working with them on the album Battle of the Field. Martin maintained a busy solo career, recording the albums Crown of Horn (1976) and Because It's There (1979). During the 1970s, Martin also began doing theatre work, which led to the formation of Brass Monkey, with whom he recorded two albums.

In the early 90s, Martin produced two more fine albums with Dave Swarbrick: Life and Limb and Skin and Bone. By then Martin was working alongside his wife and daughter, Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy as Waterson:Carthy. Waterson:Carthy (1994) and Common Tongue were both released to showers of praise. Three more albums have followed, the latest being the critically-acclaimed Fishes and Fine Yellow Sand (2004).

In June 1998, Martin was awarded an MBE for services to English folk music, and he subsequently released the acclaimed Signs Of Life, his first solo release in almost 10 years. He also teamed up with Roger Wilson and Chris Wood to form the folk "supergroup" Wood, Wilson and Carthy. His new solo album, Waiting for Angels, is now available. 


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Martin Carthy
Martin Carthy
North Yorkshire