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Martin Carthy MBE is an Englishmarker folk singer and guitarist who has remained one of the most influential figures in British traditional music, inspiring contemporaries such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon and later artists such as Richard Thompson since he emerged as a young musician in the early days of the folk revival.

He was born in Hatfieldmarker on 21 May 1941 and grew up in Hampsteadmarker, North Londonmarker. After leaving school, he worked behind the scenes at the open air theatre at Regent's Parkmarker as a prompter, then an assistant stage manager (ASM) on a tour of The Merry Widow, and then at Theatre in the Roundmarker in Scarboroughmarker. He then sang in coffee bars. He became a resident at the Troubadourmarker Folk Club in Earls Courtmarker in the early 1960s. He joined Redd Sullivan's Thameside Four in 1961. He is a renowned solo performer of traditional songs in a very distinctive style, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar; his style is marked by the use of alternative tunings, and a strongly percussive picking style that emphasizes the melody. His debut album, Martin Carthy, was released in 1965, and also featured Dave Swarbrick playing fiddle on some tracks, although he was not mentioned in the album's sleeve notes. Carthy's arrangement of the traditional ballad Scarborough Fair was adapted, without acknowledgment, by Paul Simon on the Simon and Garfunkel album recording Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme in 1966.

He has also been involved with many musical collaborations. He has sung with The Watersons since 1972, was twice a member of the UK electric folk group Steeleye Span, was a member of the Albion Country Band 1973 line-up, with members from the Fairport Convention family and John Kirkpatrick, that recorded the 'Battle of the Field' album, and was part of the innovative Brass Monkey ensemble, which mixed a range of brass instruments with Carthy's guitar and mandolin and John Kirkpatrick's accordion, melodeon and concertina.

For many years Carthy has enjoyed a creative partnership with fiddle player Dave Swarbrick and, more recently, Waterson:Carthy has provided the forum for a successful partnership with partner Norma Waterson together with their daughter Eliza Carthy.

In June 1998 he was appointed an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. He was named Folk Singer of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2002, and again in 2005 when he also won the award for Best Traditional Track for 'Famous Flower of Serving Men'. In the 2007 Folk Awards Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick won "Best duo".


Original / Studio albums (solo or with Dave Swarbrick)
  • Martin Carthy (1965) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Martin Carthy's Second Album (1966) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Byker Hill (1967) with Dave Swarbrick
  • But Two Came By (1968) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Prince Heathen (1969) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Landfall (1971)
  • Shearwater (1972 reissue with extra tracks 2005)
  • Sweet Wivelsfield (1974)
  • Crown of Horn (1976)
  • Because It's There (1979)
  • Out of the Cut (1982)
  • Right of Passage (1988)
  • Life and Limb (1990) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Skin and Bone (1992) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Signs of Life (1998)
  • Waiting for Angels (2004)
  • Straws in the Wind (2006) with Dave Swarbrick

Compilations and live albums:
  • Selections (1969) New Zealand and Australia only
  • This Is... Martin Carthy: The Bonny Black Hare and other songs (1971) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Selections (1971) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Round Up (circa early 1970s) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Brigg Fair (circa early 1970s) with Dave Swarbrick
  • Tales of Long Ago (circa early 1970s) with Dave Swarbrick
  • The Collection (1993)
  • Rigs of the Time (1993)
  • The Kershaw Sessions (1994)
  • A Collection (1999)
  • Both Ears and the Tail (2000, live recording from 1966) with Dave Swarbrick
  • The Carthy Chronicles (2001) 4x CD 83 track box set
  • The Definitive Collection (2003)
  • Martin Carthy at Ruskin Mill (2005)

Releases on other formats:
  • No Songs (7" vinyl EP 1967) with Dave Swarbrick
  • "The Bonny Lass of Angelsey" b/w "Palaces of Gold" (7" vinyl single 1976)
  • 100 Not Out (Longform video 1992) with Dave Swarbrick
  • British Fingerstyle Guitar (Longform video 1993 reissued on DVD 2006)
  • Guitar Maestros (DVD 2006)

As a member of Steeleye Span:

As a member of The Watersons and/or Waterson:Carthy
  • The Watersons: For Pence and Spicy Ale (1975)
  • The Watersons: Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy (1977)
  • The Watersons: Green Fields (1981)
  • Waterson:Carthy: Waterson:Carthy (1994)
  • Waterson:Carthy: Common Tongue (1996)
  • Waterson:Carthy: Broken Ground (1999)
  • Waterson:Carthy: A Dark Light (2002)
  • The Watersons: The Definitive Collection (2003)
  • Waterson:Carthy: Fishes & Fine Yellow Sand (2004)
  • The Watersons: Mighty River of Song (2004) 4x CD & 1x DVD box set of Watersons and related recordings
  • The Watersons: A Yorkshire Christmas (2005)
  • Waterson:Carthy: The Definitive Collection (2005)
  • Waterson:Carthy: Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man (2006)

As a member of Brass Monkey:
  • Brass Monkey (1984)
  • See How It Runs (1986)
  • The Complete Brass Monkey (1993) compilation of the previous two albums
  • Sound and Rumour (1999)
  • Going and Staying (2001)
  • Flame of Fire (2004)
  • The Definitive Collection (2005)
  • Head of Steam (2009)

As a member of Blue Murder:

Other notable releases
  • Thamesiders & Davy Graham (1963) 7" EP
  • Three City Four: Three City Four (1965)
  • Dave Swarbrick, Martin Carthy & Diz Disley: Rags Reel & Airs (1966)
  • Various Artists: Bright Phoebus: Songs by Lal & Mike Waterson (1972)
  • Albion Country Band: Battle Of The Field (1976)
  • John Kirkpatrick: Plain Capers (1976)
  • Albion Country Band: Larkrise To Candleford (1980)
  • Band of Hope: Rhythm And Reds (1994)
  • Wood, Wilson, Carthy: Wood, Wilson, Carthy (1998)
  • Dave Swarbrick: Swarb! (2003) 4CD box set career retrospective with numerous Carthy tracks
  • 4 Martins: Guitar Nights (2003) released on CD and DVD
  • Various Artists: The Imagined Village (2007)

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