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What's on: Martin Stephenson, Darwen
THERE can’t be many musicians who, when poised for stardom, deliberately set out to sabotage their own careers — but then Martin Stephenson is not your average musician.
With his band The Daintees, the amiable Geordie was one of the rising stars of the British music scene in the mid Eighties.
The album Boat to Bolivia had established him as one of the best songwriters of his generation and the big time beckoned.
“At 22 I found myself employing 18 people and paying a VAT bill of £38,000,” said Martin. “I was cocooned like a queen bee with all these worker bees doing things for me.
“We were playing to 2,000 people a night but I realised it wasn’t what I wanted.
“We were poised to really break through into the Top 40 but we refused to do any interviews and the single dropped as a result.
“Our manager was furious but we all went to the pub and celebrated.”
That maverick streak has continued throughout his career and has won Martin a devoted following who will now get the chance to see him perform songs from throughout his career at Darwen Library Theatre next month.
“I’ve never been one for planning a set,” said Martin.
“Even with the Daintees we would play these big concerts and the roadies would put out sheets on stage before a show but they were all blank pieces of paper.
“If I ever plan something it always turns out to be hopeless so I’d rather not tie myself down.”
Martin recently toured with the Daintess to Perform Boat To Bolivia in its entirety for a series of shows.
“I think that’s the most disciplined we’ve ever been,” he said. “Even then on a couple of occasions I did the songs out of order.”
A conversation with Martin reveals a gentle soul who seems at one with himself and his life.
“I have never understood the competitive side to music,” he said.
“On an artistic level I’d say I achieved alll I ever wanted by the age of 24 but as a performer I’ve always had a strong work ethic.
“I love the idea of a busker on the street just doing what comes naturally.
“I don’t understand the idea of being groomed for stardom, it’s something I kicked against.
“I effect I let go of evertything and people attacked me for it. I was left with a bin bad of clothes and my old guitar.
“It certainly helped me find out who my friends really were but also showed me who I really was.”
Now living in the Highlands with his partner, Martin admits he feels “very, very wealthy” as a person.
“I have learned that we are just a tiny part of a much bigger picture,” said Martin. “But if through my songs I can pass on a little light to people then I am happy.”
*Martin Stephenson, Darwen Library Theatre, Thursday, July 12. Details from 01254 706006 or the box office at King George’s Hall on 0844 847 1664.
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