One of music’s most accomplished songwriters, Bill Martin, passed away at the end of last week at the age of 81.
Born William Wylie MacPherson, Bill was raised in Glasgow and moved to London in 1962. He landed his first commercial release in 1963 with Kiss Me Now by Tommy Quickly and began a songwriting partnership with Tommy Scott, writing a string of successful songs for The Dubliners, Van Morrison and Serge Gainsbourg.
As a lyricist, Bill Martin had an incredible run of success with songwriting partner Phil Coulter with songs for the Troggs, George Harrison, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Elvis Presley.
Martin, along with Coulter, wrote Puppet on a String which became the first UK entry to win Eurovision in 1967. The following year, they also wrote Congratulations for Cliff Richard which finished second in the contest.
Phil Coulter expressed his condolences on Twitter, stating that Bill’s passing marks the ‘end of an era’.
In addition to his three Ivor Novello Awards, Bill also won three ASCAP awards, a Variety Club silver heart award, a Gold Badge Award in 2009 and was honoured with an MBE in 2014.
Nigel Elderton, chairman, PRS for Music chairman and managing director/European president, peermusic, said: ‘Bill epitomised the era of the ‘Tin Pan Alley’ songwriter. He always dressed impeccably, greeted everyone with a smile and a quip and had a nose for a great song. Everyone in the songwriting and publishing community knew Bill and with a clutch of huge hits to his name, he became known the world over. Sadly, there are very few of those wonderful characters from the Denmark Street era left and Bill’s passing will leave a huge void. I will miss him dearly as I know that many of his friends from the Society of Distinguished Songwriters will also. My sincere condolences to Jan, Angus and Bill’s family. Sleep well old friend!’
M Magazine interviewed the late Bill Martin back in 2017. You can read that here.