Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream paid tribute to his bandmate and keyboardist Martin Duffy, calling him a “beautiful soul”.
It was announced this morning that Duffy has passed away at the age of 55, and Gillespie announced on social media that he died on Sunday (December 18) from a traumatic brain injury after falling in his home.
Gillespie wrote: “It’s hard to write this. We never know how to talk about death except in polite platitudes. All I want to say is that our brother in spirit Martin Duffy passed away on Sunday. He suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a fall at his home in Brighton. We at Primal Scream are all so sad.
“I’ve known Martin since he was a teenager in Felt. He played keyboards on every one of our albums, from the first to the last. Finally, he joined 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, was well-read and erudite. Self-taught. 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. Self-confident and stubborn in his views.”
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Gillespie added: “He could play the piano to a level where he was honored not only by his colleagues in British music, but also by American musicians of the old school, such as James Luther Dickinson, Roger Hawkins, David Hood and producer Tom Dowd.
“I witnessed a session on Abbey Rd in 1997 for Dr. John’s album, where his record company assembled a group of young British indie musicians, where Mc Rebenack (Dr. John) seemed bored and uninterested in the session until Martin started playing, and then suddenly the good Doctor started playing some fancy piano and I immediately realized that it was because his ears pricked up when he heard Martin playing and the session finally came to life.”
“Martin was the most musically talented of all of us,” the tribute continued. “His style combined elements of country, blues and soul, and he felt all this from God. He never played the same thing twice, never. He was all in the “moment”, it would have been better if the “record” button had been pressed when Duffy was on fire. His timing was unique, funky and ALWAYS lagged behind the rhythm.
“George Clinton also dug Martin. I remember a session in Chicago where George told him, “Go to church, Duffy!” and he did. Martin also had a unique wit. He had a keen eye for the absurd, the surreal and the ridiculous. He lived to laugh and play music. He was loved by all of us at The Scream. Beautiful soul. We will miss him.”
In a separate statement , the band ‘s bassist Simone Marie Butler wrote: “Your day was the worst day of the year, today I am also in tears, writing this. “You would struggle to find a more sincere, gifted, funny, kind-hearted, caring, naturally talented person who would play like no one else.
“Please check out Bobby’s beautiful words on the band’s page, because it really was Martin. He died on Sunday in hospital due to a serious traumatic brain injury after falling at home.”
Butler added: “It has been an honor to play with you on stage for the last 11 years, to be your friend, to share tours, ups and downs and laughter. You were and remain one of a kind. Your light will always burn Daffy. Everyone who knew him loved him, everyone who met him loved him. He was a pure genuine soul.”
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Growing up in Birmingham, Duffy joined the indie band Felt at the age of 16, after which the band signed a contract with Creation Records. He was then part of Primal Scream for three decades, moving from part-time to full-time member, and was also a guest on Gillespie’s 2020 album with Jenny Beth of Savages, “Utopian Ashes”.
Duffy is also known to have stepped in at the last minute to play with The Charlatans when they were supporting Oasis in 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 Duffy’s honor.