Martin Colyer has been involved in music throughout his life. He is the son of Bill Colyer, the man who gave the name Skiffle to the burgeoning DIY movement that happened in Britain in the early Fifties. Bill’s brother was the renowned Jazz trumpeter, Ken Colyer, leader of a band that included the crucial influencers Alexis Korner and Lonnie Donegan. This story is brilliantly told in Billy Bragg’s recent book, Roots, Radicals and Rockers.

Martin was in a British R’n’B group called Hot!House in the Eighties, and although ultimately unsuccessful, managed to spend £1.3m of RCA’s money. They were fronted by singer Heather Small and worked with Susan Rogers and Eric Leeds of Prince fame, Ron “Have Mercy” Kersey, writer of “Disco Inferno”, and toured supporting Barry White.

Along with Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns, Martin is also a co-founder of the world’s number one music journalism resource, Rock’s Back Pages.

In 2012 he won a Parliamentary Jazz Award for his work on Goin’ Home: The Uncompromising Life & Music of Ken Colyer, a large-scale biography of his uncle. A magazine designer and art director by trade, Martin started writing a weekly blog, Five Things I Saw and Heard This Week, in 2012. It focused on music encountered in day-to-day life. In July 2018 he released a book of the blog, Five Things I Saw and Heard This Week, Vol. 1. He also posts occasionally on illustration and photography at Adventures in Commissioning.

He has continued to write, mostly on design and illustration for the beautiful graphics magazine, eye, in London. He makes music, sometimes, at martincolyer.com and southwesternrecorders.com. He likes reverb, outré scents, Bob Dylan’s boots and the writing of Dashiell Hammett.

He plays primitive music on ramshackle guitars, likes Bob Dylan, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Joseph Spence, Sam Amidon and John Fred & His Playboy Band among thousands of others. He’s a fair cook. On occasion, he writes a song, usually with Mark Pringle.

Inspiration Information: His constant writing inspirations include Laura Barton, Mick Brown, Joan Didion, Michael Gray, Peter Guralnick, Barney Hoskyns, Marinas Hyde and O’Loughlin, Michael Jackson (the wine one), Anthony Lane, Greil Marcus, Mark Myers, Amanda Petrusich, Alex Ross, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Ed Ward, Richard Williams and Peter York.


  1. Charlie Banks says:

    Hello Martin – just started to follow. Delighted to see Brickyard Blues as an entree, so to speak. I recorded his set from Andy Kershaw’s Radio 1 show (I think he had a Saturday afternoon show at the time). Andy also had a set from Dan Penn (wonderful too). I think Mr T played piano to accompany Dan – not certain but…. About to play both sets and add to a playlist. Thanks! Charlie

    • Yes, you’re right, Charlie, that broadcast’s where this is from. Mr T did play along with both Dan Penn and Joe South, waiting and studying through the first verse of each song before adding lovely fills and supporting chords. Joe South was the only one of the five singer/songwriters brave enough to join in with everyone else’s performances (but then he was the guy who played on I Want You on Blonde On Blonde). The other two performers were Vic Chestnutt and Guy Clarke, and it was hosted by the brilliant Charlie Gillett.

  2. Charlie Banks says:

    Thanks, Martin….it’s all coming back. Yes, Joe South. On the thought of piano players, I’m a big admirer of Geraint Watkins and sort of connected to his new album – Moustique – he’s started playing fortnightly on Sunday afternoons at The Wheatsheaf in Tooting Bec, billed as Geraint Watkins & The Mosquitos. Effectively, it’s mainly Nick Lowe’s band and/or the guys who cover the sessions at nearby Goldtop Studios (Neil Brockbank). I think the next one is due on 11 May (all things being equal). I live in the Newcastle area but I’m hopeful of taking in one shortly (these things have a shelf life, I guess). Anyway, you may already know about it but if not, it might be of interest. Finally, I’m just getting properly acquainted with your blog but fascinated already. I’ve tipped off a few chums, so hopefully they’ll take an interest too. All power to your elbow!

  3. Thanks, Charlie, and didn’t know that about The Wheatsheaf. Saw GW backing Nick Lowe when he shared a bill with Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham at the Drury Lane Theatre, he’s a lovely keyboardist…

    • Charlie Banks says:

      Good morning, Martin

      Just an update in case you decide to try and catch Geraint Watkins & The Mosquitos at the Wheatsheaf. He’s next there on the afternoon of Sunday 18 May. His producer Neil Brockbank has just confirmed on Facebook. Charlie


    • I went to that Dan and Spooner gig when they supported Nick Lowe. God bless Nick Lowe.
      I knew your dad btw – my fave memory is him in the Avenue pub (no longer there) telling how he spotted Louie Bellson at the bus stop through the big window looking onto Shaftesbury Avenue and rushed out to grab him. Bellson was with his wife, Pearl Bailey, but of course Bilco was more knocked out to meet a guy who played drums with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

  4. Charlie Banks says:

    Try this – I think it was probably recorded in Geraint’s living room. He’s on guitar this time and it’s rather nice, warm etc. He’s great live and always in good humour. A very nice bloke. I think Nick Lowe and Mark Lamarr were there the other week. Nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon

  5. Good morning, Martin. If you don’t already know, Neil Brockbank passed away on Tuesday after a brief battle with cancer. Nick Lowe gave a heartfelt, if not moving, tribute to him on Facebook. To my ears, Neil was an excellent producer and had great ears, and his studio Goldtop made some beautiful sounding recordings. Linked to that, he was the producer and recording engineer for Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s ‘Moments From This Theatre’ live album. There’s a lovely podcast from the guys from ‘The Word’ [no 124] that features him. I found it fascinating and insightful and he speaks passionately and knowledgeably about all sorts of music stuff. Comes across as a thoroughly nice man. I’ll try and find the link and send it to you. If you’ve a spare hour, I’m sure you’d appreciate it. Enjoy your weekend

  6. Hello again, Martin…here’s the link for ‘The Word’ podcast with Neil

  7. Hi Martin…this is Billy Bragg giving a talk about his book at the Library of Congress. About 25 mins in talks a lot about your uncle Ken


  8. Thanks, Charlie, very kind of you (sorry about tardy reply, have been living in a field the last couple of weeks!)


  1. […] details a 2015 Q&A with longtime Steely Dan producer Gary Katz, written by one Martin Colyer. In this Q&A, Katz describes how Walter and Donald were keen on getting Steve Gadd on a Steely […]

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