Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie pays tribute to “beautiful soul” Martin Duffy

Written by on December 20, 2022

Primal Scream‘s Bobby Gillespie has paid tribute to his bandmate and keyboardist Martin Duffy, calling him a “beautiful soul”.

It was announced this morning that Duffy had passed away aged 55, with Gillespie revealing on social media that he died on Sunday (December 18) from a brain injury following a fall at his home.

Gillespie wrote: “Hard to write this. We never know how to speak around death other than polite platitudes. 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.”

Gillespie added: “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 & 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,” the tribute continued. “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.”

In a separate statement, the band’s bassist Simone Marie Butler wrote: Y”day was the worst day of the year, today i’m also in tears writing this. “You would struggle to find a more genuine, gifted, funny, kind hearted, caring, naturally talented person who played like no one else.

“Please check Bobby’s beautiful words on the band page because that truly was Martin. He passed away on Sunday in hospital due to a serious brain injury after a fall at home.”

Butler added: “It was an honour to play on stage with u this last 11 years, be your friend, shares tours, the ups and downs and the laughs. You were and are one of a kind. Your light will always burn Duffy. Everyone who knew him loved, everyone who met him loved him. He was a pure genuine soul.”

Growing up in Birmingham, Duffy joined indie band Felt at 16 years old, with the band going on to sign to Creation Records. He was then a part of Primal Scream for three decades, going from part-time to full-time member and also guesting on Gillespie‘s 2020 album with Savages‘ Jehnny Beth‘Utopian Ashes’.

Duffy also notoriously stepped in at the last minute to play with The Charlatans when they supported Oasis at Knebworth.

“Martin Duffy stepped in to save The Charlatans when we lost Rob – he played with us at Knebworth and was a true friend,” Tim Burgess wrote in a tribute to Duffy.

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