Martin Duffy: Primal Scream and Felt keyboardist dies aged 55 | Primal Scream

Martin Duffy, who played keyboards for Primal Scream and Felt, has died aged 55, his former Charlatans bandmate Tim Burgess has confirmed.

Duffy was born in Birmingham on May 18, 1967, and grew up in Rednal.

He joined the indie band Felt in 1985 after frontman Lawrence put up a notice in the Birmingham branch of Virgin records advertising for a guitarist that read: “Do you want to be a rock’n’roll star?” and a man recommended Duffy.

Duffy’s sound became central to the band in the mid-80s as they signed to Creation Records, for 1986’s The Seventeenth Century, and embarked on what fans considered their imperial phase. The second side of their 1988 album The Pictorial Jackson Review features two Duffy instrumentals.

Burgess previously cited the album as proof that Duffy was “actually the only musical genius I have ever met … me and [My Bloody Valentine’s] Kevin Shields sat up all night once with open mouths praising his natural ability,” he told the Quietus.

Duffy remained a member of the band until their split in 1989 – when Lawrence said he had fulfilled his aim of releasing 10 singles and 10 albums in 10 years.

In the interim, Duffy had played on Primal Scream’s first two albums, 1987’s Sonic Flower Groove and 1989’s Primal Scream; he joined the band full-time at the end of that year.

Mojo’s Tim Tooher described Duffy as “probably the purest musician in the band, bringing in echoes of Thelonious Monk, Johnnie Johnson, Jerry Lee and Cecil Taylor.” His voice sounds like his throat was licked in whiskey before he was even born. Martin brings the blues to Primal Scream.”

In 1993, Duffy was the victim of a near-fatal stabbing in New York City while there with the band.

Duffy would also play with the Charlatans following the death of founding member Rob Collins, stepping into his shoes when the band supported Oasis at Knebworth in August 1996. He also contributed to their 1997 album Tellin’ Stories.

Burgess paid tribute to Duffy on Twitter: “Another tragic loss of a beautiful soul. Martin Duffy stepped in to save The Charlatans when we lost Rob – he played with us at Knebworth and was a true friend. He toured with me in my solo band too – which he was a pleasure to spend time with. Safe travels Duffy.”

Duffy would also collaborate with artists including Beth Orton, Steve Mason, the Pop Group’s Mark Stewart, Chemical Brothers, Paul Weller, Vic Godard and Subway Sect and Jessie Buckley, on the soundtrack to the 2018 film Wild Rose.

Duffy released a solo album, Assorted Promenades, on Burgess’s O Genesis label in 2014, which included music dating back to 1997. The album’s release was inspired by Duffy and Burgess witnessing a car catching fire by the side of the road, Duffy told the Quietus . The pair had just been listening to the John Foxx song Burning Car: “Tim saw it as a sign.”

Primal Scream’s most recent studio album, Chaosmosis, was released in 2016. Duffy also performed on frontman Bobby Gillespie’s 2021 collaborative album Utopian Ashes.

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