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See Also Martin's Wikipedia entry.

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 loves.

Background:
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.

Music:
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 sorts.
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.

Travel:
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.

Currently:
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.

 

Established 1999. Website run by Paul Wilkinson for and with Martin Newell.