21 December 2022
Only a couple of hours after the brutal and very sad news of the passing of The Specials‘ Terry Hall came another brutal and very sad message. The passing of British keyboardist Martin Duffy. He died after a brain injury following a fall at his home in Brighton. He was only 55. Rest in peace.
He joined Primal Scream in 1989. In the mid-’90s he played with The Charlatans
for a while, after the sudden eath of their young, prior keyboardist Rob Collins.
He also worked as a session musician with a cast of big rockstars such as Oasis, Beth Orton, Paul Weller, Dr. John, Heidi Berry, George Clinton, Little Barrie, and the Chemical Brothers. He released one solo album, a classical music-inspired one, titled Assorted Promenades in 2014.
Here’s a track off that album…
Here’s Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie’s tribute to Duffy:
Hard to write this. We never know how to speak around death other than polite platitudes [sic]. All I want to say is that our soul brother Martin Duffy passed away on Sunday. He suffered a brain injury due to a fall at his home in Brighton. We in Primal Scream are all so sad. I’ve known Martin since he was a teenager in Felt. He played keyboards on every album of ours from the first to the last. Finally joining the band in 1991. Martin was a very special character. He had a love and understanding of music on a deep spiritual level. Music meant everything to him. He loved literature and was well read and erudite. An autodidact. A deep thinker, curious about
the world and other cultures. Always visiting museums in every city we played or looking for Neolithic stones in remote places. Opinionated and stubborn in his views. He could play piano to the level where he was feted not just by his peers in British music, but old school master American musicians such as James Luther Dickinson, Roger Hawkins & David Hood and
producer Tom Dowd.
I witnessed a session at Abbey Rd in 1997 for a Dr John album where his record company had assembled a bunch of young Indie Brit musicians where Mac Rebenac ( Dr John ) seemed bored and uninterested in the session until Martin started playing, then suddenly the good Dr started knocking some funky piano chops and I instantly knew it was because his ears had pricked up when he heard Martin play and the session at last came alive. Martin was the most musically talented of all of us. His style combined elements of country, blues and soul, all of which he had a God-given natural feel for. He never played the same thing twice, ever. He was all about ‘the moment’, better have that ‘record’ button on when Duffy was on fire.
His timing was unique, funky and ALWAYS behind the beat. George Clinton also dug Martin. I remember a session in Chicago where George said to him ” go to church Duffy !” , and he did. Martin was also in possession of a unique wit. He had a swift eye for the absurd, the surreal and the ridiculous. He lived to laugh and play music. He was loved
by all of us in the Scream. A beautiful soul. We will miss him.
With Primal Scream
I had the fantastic pleasure to meet Martin (second from left, next to myself) when
Primal Scream played in my hometown of Ghent (Belgium) some years ago.