Martin Carthy is one of the key figures in the English traditional folk revival. Born in Hatfield on May 21st, 1941, Carthy grew up in Hampstead, London. He began playing guitar after hearing Lonnie Donegan's recording of Rock Island Line. As he explained in our extensive Martin Carthy interview, his eureka moment with traditional music came at a Sam Larner concert in London at Ewan MacColl's Ballads and Blues club when Carthy was just 17.
In all, Martin Carthy has recorded on over 40 albums, beginning in 1965, and has been a notable part of Steeleye Span, the Albion Country Band, Brass Monkey and Blue Murder. His influence on modern interpretations of traditional folk music is undeniable. Most of his work has been done for Topic Records, the world's oldest independent record label.
Martin Carthy recorded 'Scarborough Fair' [Roud 12] in 1965. He taught the song to Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, both of whom adapted it for their own recordings. Paul Simon most famously recorded it with Art Garfunkel for The Graduate soundtrack in 1966. Bob Dylan adapted the song, having learnt it from Martin Carthy in the winter of 1962/62, to provide the basis of his own recording, 'Girl from the North Country' (1963).
Martin Carthy plays a signature Martin 000-18 acoustic guitar. He is known for playing in open tunings, and is most associated with CGCDGA, which allows for a percussive style on the bass strings, while the melody is picked out on the higher strings in a kind of heterophony.
Martin Carthy was married twice, most famously to Norma Waterson, a traditional folk singer who rose to fame with The Watersons. They began their relationship during the recording of the 'Bright Phoebus' album, and were married in 1972. Norma Waterson died in January, 2022.
Martin and Eliza Carthy are father and daughter. Eliza Carthy was born to Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson in August, 1975. She was brought up amongst the wider Watersons family in Yorkshire, where Eliza and Martin continue to live to this day. Eliza has two children.
Articles about Martin Carthy
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