Friday, July 29th, 2011

Martin Skidmore

Without Martin Skidmore, this website wouldn’t be around today.

Martin joined the Jukebox in the Stylus days, back at the start of 2006. I think we were in a pub at the time. I remember why I invited him – I’d never read any formal music writing by him aside from his contributions to ILX, but he had a huge knowledge of music, especially old soul and R&B, and loved talking to people about it. We’d been friends since about 2003, I think, when I first started going to gatherings of London ILX posters. He was always warm and welcoming, always willing to sit and chat and listen about any old thing.

Once he joined the Jukebox, he became the heartbeat of the place. From the start of 2006 up til a few weeks ago, he blurbed pretty much every single song we reviewed (there may be the occasional exception, my administration of this place was that haphazard that it’s impossible to check). I never asked him to, but every week he’d sit, listen and send his thoughts. Anyone who’s followed us for any length of time will know that my enthusiasm wavers, a lot. Martin’s never did.

He was always quite critical of his writing style; he often used to say he didn’t mind me cutting his stuff, that he would understand if I wanted to let him go. I would always reply that he’d be the last person I’d do that to; he’d given us so much, and I couldn’t imagine the place without him. Also, I liked the way he wrote; straight, honest, and with clarity and wit that too often went unappreciated. For an editor as skittish and inexperienced as me, he was a godsend.

At the end of March, he told me he’d been diagnosed with a type of cancer that had a 20% survival rate. At the start of April, he told me he had found out he wasn’t in that 20%. He said he wanted to keep writing for as long as he could. Somehow, it turned out that was up till last week. He passed away in hospital in London earlier today, aged 52.

Martin Skidmore will always be my favourite Jukebox writer. I am proud to call him my friend.


18 Responses to “Martin Skidmore”

  1. Well said. Captures Martin to a T.

  2. I still can’t imagine the place without him. Lovely work, Will.

  3. Thank you for this. Beautifully done.

  4. That was lovely, Will – thank you so much for writing it.

  5. Very nice writing William. Sadly i never got to meet him in person but we would ‘speak’ via email and he was a really nice guy. We lost a real good man today.

  6. Oh Will, this is great. Martin S. could capture songs in a sentence or two. I always found that to be a superhuman feat. But it’s just as superhuman to communicate in twenty sentences something about what makes a person like that tick.

  7. Martin made me a writer. This expresses why he wouldn’t want to take that credit.

  8. Martin wrote about 1082 songs since TSJ went stand-alone. He knew what he liked, but he listened to each one of those 1082 songs willing to give them a chance and as such his critical reactions were thoughtful and honest. The desire to keep being surprised is one of those fantastic childlike qualities we should all hope to never lose, and Martin clearly never did. And he combined that with good humour and intelligence to boot. He’ll be missed for as many reasons as people will miss him.

  9. Like many, I am here in large part due to Martin. His energy was unmatchable. It’s still hard to believe that as unwell as he was, his spirit remained so strong right up until the end. Thank you, Will, for capturing some of that spirit in such a lovely farewell.

  10. Having recently joined this crew, I didn’t have much time to interact with Martin, but his impeccable track record was what inspired me, from the get-go, to review as many songs as I possibly could. And rubbing shoulders with his lovely, concise writing made me try harder, too. His steadfast presence will be missed.

  11. Because Martin wrote so much, there were days when I would crankily and stupidly feel that he “wasn’t critical enough,” that he liked too much, too easily. It is much closer to the truth to say that Martin was simply exhibiting the grace, open-mindedness, and generosity of spirit to which I aspire, and am unlikely to ever approach. RIP.

  12. I knew Martin before I knew of the (old-skool) Jukebox, so I always looked out for his reviews when I first started reading. If you do a quick archive search for ‘Ludacris’ or ‘Wu Tang’ you will find some of his most joyful and enthusiastic – but always concise – writing.

  13. Thanks Will. Thank you, Martin — it was a joy to know you.

  14. As a long time reader of this forum, I’ve enjoyed Martin’s voice and perspective over the years. Sorry for the news, and thanks for the fine tribute.

  15. R.I.P. Martin.

  16. It’s an absolute shame I didn’t know Martin personally. Seeing my own interest in writing wax and wane over the last few years, discovering his enthusiasm for taking on every song as it came for years is a complete challenge and inspiration. I can only aspire to his joy and measured criticism. Rest well, Martin.

  17. This long time reader would like to thank Martin for his work on this fantastic website; RIP.

  18. My condolences to each and every one of the writers close to him, this is very sad news.

    May he rest in peace.

    Fuck cancer already …