Tributes paid to former NME journalist Gavin Martin

"A passionate music fan, he was generous, funny, unique"

Tributes have been paid to former NME journalist Gavin Martin, who has died.

The news was reported by Louder Than War earlier today (March 11). A cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

Born in 1961, Martin was first published in the NME letters page when he was just 13-years-old before moving to London as a teenager to work at the magazine alongside Julie Burchill, Tony Parsons and Danny Baker.

Martin wrote U2‘s first-ever NME cover interview in 1981 ahead of the group releasing their second studio album, ‘October’, later that same year. As former NME reviews editor Stuart Bailie wrote in a tribute online, Martin went on to “rubbish” U2’s follow-up record, ‘War’ (1983).

Bailie described Martin as “nobody’s tame journalist”, reflecting on the time the late writer interviewed Marvin Gaye, had a “messy confrontation” with Van Morrison and a run-in with Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode.

Martin – who later became the music critic for The Daily Mirror – also interviewed the likes of James Brown, The Four Tops, David Byrne, Meat Loaf, The Killers and Lou Reed (via Rock’s Back Pages).

Writing on Louder Than War, journalist John Robb said: “Gavin knew the worst crime in music was to be boring and his visceral wild energy and his romantic belief in the power of the music and the power of the word made him stand out from the surrounding mundane terrain.”

Following the news of his passing, many of Martin’s friends, former colleagues and fans took to social media to share memories and messages of tribute.

A post on Uncut Magazine‘s official Twitter page read: “We’re very sad to learn of Gavin Martin’s passing. Aside from his NME tenure, he was a mainstay of Uncut for many years. A passionate music fan, he was generous, funny, unique. RIP Gavin.”

NME contributor James McMahon wrote: “RIP Gavin Martin, NME legend. I once went on a trip with you to Nashville. You took loads of sleeping pills, forgot to interview the band, then woke up about an hour before we had to catch the flight home. Maniac. Also, your writing was the real deal.”

John Mulvey, current MOJO editor and former NME deputy editor, said: “At NME in the ‘90s, Gavin Martin often seemed to come at music, and perhaps life, from a different, wholly original angle to most of us.

“Remembering him today, I think maybe, in his own way, he just worked it all out quicker. RIP.”

Elsewhere, Martin was hailed as “a trailblazer” and “fascinating man” who “provided endless inspiration in what he wrote”. You can see those tribute messages and a selection of other tweets below.

A passionate fan of The Clash, Gavin Martin began his career during the punk era in Belfast, Northern Ireland where he launched his Alternative Ulster fanzine.

“I’d been reading NME since I was 11 and was as often as not into the writing as I was into the music,” Martin told Spit Records previously. “I remember a 15-year-old Belfast girl, slightly older than me, won their competition for a jukebox filled with the greatest 100 singles of all time, which I had entered.

“But a Belfast girl winning it made me think maybe something; some sort of handle on a musical culture community was in reach, round the corner. Then punk came along and there was a chance for everyone to express themselves with music or clothes or fanzines.”

He continued: “I loved all kinds of music, always had since I’d sung Beatles songs pre school in the front garden to the older kids (five and up) coming home from Ballyholme Primary.

Alternative Ulster would give me a chance to write about punk of course but Dylan and Motown too. I was never a musician but I could write a bit, graffiti for sure – and it turned out to be invaluable in getting the fanzine off the ground.”

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