See Also Martin's Wikipedia
About Martin Newell...
Basically, he's a pop poet and rock musician.
But it's a little more complicated than that. He'll tell you that he
doesn't have a career though - just a series of jobs and engagements
which taken together have added up to some sort of a living this past
few decades. He plays various guitars, bass, keyboards, mandolin and
he can sing. He makes rather English-sounding pop records, he writes
poems and articles in national newspapers. He does spoken word performances
and less-frequently, live music gigs. He occasionally presents TV programmes.
He has been on national radio quite a bit over the years. He has a number
of books and records out. He doesn't have management, an agent or anyone
'looking after' him. Mostly, he works. Mostly, it's writing, which he
Born into a military family in 1953 the eldest of three boys. Schooled
in the Far East, Cyprus and all over the UK.. Taught himself guitar,
aged 14. . Left school aged fifteen. Worked in a London as an office
boy and a window cleaner. A natural rebel he got into much trouble as
a teenager but music, humour and books dominated his lfe throughout,
probably saving his life.
Aged 19 joined an Essex glam-rock band The Mighty Plod as a singer and
gigged in rough clubs, pubs and colleges for the next two years. In
his early twenties he joined a hard rock /.prog band from Ispwich called
Gypp and gigged in the UK as well as touring northern Germany several
times. In 1979, he won his first record contract and shortly afterwards
his first single Young Jobless / Sylvie In Toytown was released, first
on an indie label and then with Liberty Records. Much Radio 1 airplay
and the record briefly charted but then sank after trouble of various
In the 1980s he formed the anarchic and wacky Cleaners from Venus, who
after much defiance of music biz convention, signed to a London record
company and began making proper records which were well reviewed and
well-received. He began co-writing songs with Captain Sensible in 1986,
a relationship which endures to some extent to this day. In 1989 he
and his friend Nelson, now of New Model Army formed The Brotherhood
of Lizards, were signed to make an album and proceeded to promote it,
touring the record by bicycle. This led to many TV appearances and some
notoriety and amusement in the media. In 1993, with XTC's Andy Partridge
in the producer's chair Martin made what was to become his most successful
album The Greatest Living Englishman. This has been followed over the
years by several other solo albums. Now in middle years, still held
in some regard as a great English songwriter and sometimes compared
to Syd Barrett and Ray Davies, it is said that he never got the commercial
success he deserved. While this may or may not be true he continues
to make and sell good pop records with a degree of international acclaim.
Poetry and Writing:
He 'came out of the closet' as a poet in 1990 and found almost immediate
success, broadcasting on national radio shows and bringing out collections
of rhyming, humorous and pastoral poetry, much of which echoed his dead
heroes, Housman, Betjeman and Tennyson. It could be said that poetry
was the making of Martin Newell because it brought him to a wider UK
public than music ever had. He went on to write for The Independent,
and The Independent on Sunday for over 15 years, sometimes producing
as many as three pieces per week for them. In 2001, he published This
Little Ziggy a funny, lewd and sometimes shocking memoir of his early
years in music. He has continued to publish well-reviewed poetry collections.
He is said to be the most published living English poet.
For a man who supposedly hates leaving his beloved
East Anglia, Martin Newell has travelled a lot. He's toured France,
Germany, Japan and Iceland. Last year he went to The Falkland Islands
by way of Ascension Island on a military flight, to write a feature
for The Sunday Express.
This year he has been to Poole, Bath, Blackpool, Bilbao and a number of
other places in order to perform music, poetry or both.
Now in his mid-50s, with an abiding suspicion of commercial convention
and arts authorities he remains in north Essex, where he continues to
write poems, songs and books at a rate which sometimes surprises even
the people who know him. He's been an artist with Cherry Red Records
for many years now, producing new albums about once every two years.
He writes lyrics and libretto for other composers on demand and occasionallly
writes songs for other artists.
As a writer, he mostly deals with two publishers Jardine and Wivenbook,
both based in his home-town. His Selected Poems which came out in 2008
was given an enthusiastic and detailed foreword by Professor Germaine
Greer. This Little Ziggy his rock memoir is due to be
re-published at time of writing. As poet-in-residence for The Sunday
Express he writes a weekly pop-poem for the newspaper as well as occasional
features for them. He is a columnist for The East Anglian Daily Times
for whom he writes a page The Joy of Essex each week. Increasingly BBC
TV use him as a guest presenter for their Inside Out documentary series.
So he's not really short of work.
What's He Like?
Cheap booze and women of his own age mostly.
Seriously? Mostly cheerful. Obsessed with music and literature. Hard-working.
Nowhere near as difficult as he was when he was younger and more interested
in getting the job right than the pursuit of celebrity or money. Good
evening. He's from Essex. And he's doing...very well.
Martin Newell, Wivenhoe, Essex. 2008
Both Photographs here were taken by
Ashley Powell and remain his copyright. Please do not use without permission.