I caught a whisper on the Internet last night which was confirmed this morning: Martin Allcock (aka Maaart - that's what a Manchester accent will do for you) had died. His website - which has yet to be updated at the time of writing - says the following:
Hello everyone. People were saying after my appearances at Cropredy last year that I was unwell. I was not. I'd lost weight because I had discovered the joy of exercise and was working out regularly. I was actually very fit and any illness was far beyond the horizon.
This year was meant to be my travel gap year. I was going to revisit friends and favourite places around the world before slowing down to enjoy the evening of my years. I made it as far as Madeira in January for some heat, a place I'd never considered before, but I loved it. Such a beautiful fragrant isle, truly a paradise. A week after my return, I developed jaundice, and had to go to hospital. Scans and tests revealed that there were more sinister things happening inside me. Now the race is run and the final chapter has begun, and my liver cancer is terminal. I am in absolutely no pain or discomfort at this time. For the time being, to look at, you wouldn't think there was much wrong with me. I am fully mobile, with energy, eating and sleeping well, and totally at peace with what the future holds. How long that future lasts is anyone's guess, but I probably won't make it to next summer. I shall play my final live performance at the Fairport Cropredy Convention this August, but I shall continue to make music while I draw breath. My main priority now is to finish the autobiography I began in January, and which now has an additional final chapter. I had no idea the deadline was so strict then. I will go with dignity, good humour and good grace. I just have to wait now for transport back to my own planet. I only came for the curry anyway.
So, do not be sad. I achieved everything I ever wanted to do from daydreaming in a council house in north Manchester to travelling the world with my heroes, playing to thousands and thousands of people, and getting paid for it. I have lived a lot, laughed a lot and loved a lot, and I shall leave this planet with eternal love and gratitude for my wife Jan, my three children Madeleine, Jered and Jane, and their mum Gill, and all of you who took any interest in this mad northerner. Thank you all so much. Be happy and shower the people you love with love.
Still here for now ...
Harlech, Cymru, June 2018
As I have written elsewhere, I became aware of Maart when I bought the "Expletive Delighted" lp in the summer of 1988. He was the multi-instrumentalist in the revived Fairport Convention, and in my humble opinion he brought a great deal of musical intelligence to the band. He didn't write songs but did contribute labyrinthine instrumentals which seemed to change time signature almost every bar. Maart might not have added depth to the band's sound but he definitely added width as a proper lead guitarist and as a keyboard player. He introduced MIDI to Fairport.
He was the original promoted fanboy, having learned much music from Fairport in the 70s, then joining them in the 80s and leaving in the 90s. It was whispered at the time that he had become unreliable, giving in to the demon drink.
I bumped into Maart at the 1996 Cropredy festival; along with my recently met friend Chris, we had just entered the main field when we came across him. After greeting, I asked how old Maart was: he told me that he had been born in January 1957; I was quite pleased at this and crowed that finally I was older than someone in the band (I'm also older than his replacement, Chris Leslie). I was very disappointed when I learned the following year that he had left, as Chris - however nice he may be - lacked the Allcock touch.
Maart appears in the picture above with Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens (which is also a nom de guerre). It's amazing how similar he looks to me in that picture, although he smiles much more than I do.
Go gently into the long night, Maart. You were appreciated.