Martin Duffy, Primal Scream & Felt Keyboardist, Dies Aged 55
Primal Scream keyboardist Martin Duffy has died. News of the musician’s passing was confirmed by A&R figure James Endeacott, before being verified by a number of other people close to the Primal Scream star. The musician was 55 years old, but no cause of death has been given.
Duffy was born in Birmingham on 18 May 1967 and grew up in the West Midlands 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 consider their imperial phase. The second side of their 1988 album The Pictorial Jackson Review features two Duffy instrumentals.
Coaxed into the Primal Scream line up, he initially guested in the studio before becoming a full-time member. A virtual mainstay in the group’s line up for three decades, his innate musicality and ability to stretch perfectly suited the band.
Whether he was adding honky tonk piano to their Give Out But Don’t Give Up era or embracing rave, Martin Duffy seemed able to play anything. Indeed, when The Charlatans tragically lost Rob Collins in 1996, they could think of only one replacement – given only a few weeks to learn the set, he joined the band for their epochal performance supporting Oasis at Knebworth.
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 – he was a pleasure to spend time with. Safe travels Duffy.”
Journalist and broadcaster Pete Paphides praised Martin Duffy’s “electrifying playing” on the Felt albums.
Duffy would also collaborate with artists including Beth Orton, Steve Mason, the Pop Group’s Mark Stewart, The 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.