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.