Martin Duffy, the Felt keyboardist who went on to play with Primal Scream, the Charlatans, and many more UK groups, has died, BBC News reports, citing tweets by the Charlatans’ Tim Burgess and Duffy’s brother, the BBC journalist Steve Duffy. He had injured his brain in a fall and died peacefully surrounded by family, his brother said. Duffy was 55.
Raised in Birmingham, Duffy joined the cult indie-pop band Felt in 1985, and his playful organs became integral to their jangly sound, particularly on the 1986 classic Forever Breathes the Lonely Word, which featured a plaintive Duffy staring out from the cover. Throughout the late ’80s, he had been moonlighting as an ancillary keyboardist with Primal Scream, and, in 1991, two years after Felt split, Duffy joined the Scottish band full-time. He played on their pivot to rave-rock, the landmark 1991 album Screamadelica, and all of the group’s records until their latest, 2016’s Chaosmosis.
In that period, Duffy became a reliable and ever-adaptable fixture of the British music scene. In 1996, when the Charlatans’ Rob Collins died in a car crash, Duffy filled in at the band’s much-mythologized Knebworth concert supporting Oasis on three weeks’ notice. He went on to record with the band on 1997’s Tellin’ Stories, and was later called upon for Oasis’ own “Love Like a Bomb,” as well as two tracks on the Chemical Brothers’ 2007 album, We Are the Night. Duffy released a solo album, Assorted Promenades, in 2014.
On social media, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie wrote:
Music meant everything to him. He loved literature and was well read and erudite. An autodidact. A deep thinker, curious about the world and other cultures. Always visiting museums in every city we played or looking for Neolithic stones in remote places. Opinionated and stubborn in his views. He could play piano to the level where he was feted not just by his peers in British music, but old school master American musicians such as James Luther Dickinson, Roger Hawkins & David Hood & producer Tom Dowd….
He was all about ‘the moment’, better have that ‘record’ button on when Duffy was on fire. His timing was unique, funky and ALWAYS behind the beat. George Clinton also dug Martin….
He lived to laugh and play music. He was loved by all of us in the Scream. A beautiful soul. We will miss him.