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Bill Martin (born William Wylie Macpherson, 9 November 1938, Govan, Glasgow) is a Scottish songwriter, music publisher and impresario.

Contents

Biography

He had his first song released on record in 1963, with "Kiss Me Now" by Tommy Quickly. In 1964 he entered into a writing partnership with Tommy Scott. As Scott & Martin he had success with such acts as the Irish trio The Bachelors, Twinkle, the Irish folk band The Dubliners, Van Morrison, and Serge Gainsbourg.

In 1965 he met Phil Coulter and the two became established as a successful songwriting team that lasted more than ten years (Martin for the lyrics, Coulter for the melody). They had records with such (mostly UK) performers as comedian and baritone Ken Dodd, American R&B artist Geno Washington, Los Bravos, Dave Dee & Co, The Troggs, Mireille Mathieu, George Harrison, Dick Emery, Tony Blackburn, Cliff Richard, Sandie Shaw, and Elvis Presley.

Between 1967 and 1976 they had four No. 1 hits in the UK: "Puppet on a String", "Congratulations", "Back Home" and "Forever and Ever". There were also numerous Top 10 hits including the Bay City Rollers' "Shang-A-Lang", "Fancy Pants" by the glam rock band Kenny, "Requiem" by the Scottish pop group Slik, and "Surround Yourself with Sorrow" by the popular British songstress Cilla Black.

The Bay City Rollers had a No. 1 hit in 1976 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart with "Saturday Night", a song that was not released as a single in the UK. In all, there were three No. 1 hits in the U.S. for the songwriters, the other two being "Thanks", performed by Bill Anderson and "My Boy" performed by Elvis Presley.

The songwriters also wrote for the films The Water Babies and Carry On and a number of television theme songs. Having triumphed in the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest with "Puppet on a String", the first UK entry to win the competition, they finished 2nd the following year in 1968 with "Congratulations" from Cliff Richard. In 1975, Martin and Coulter reached the Eurovision final for the third time, this time writing Luxembourg's entry, "Toi", for Coulter's future wife, the Irish singer Geraldine. The song finished fifth in Stockholm. Their final attempt at Eurovision glory was in 1978, when their song "Shine It On" finished third in the UK heat A Song for Europe performed by Glaswegian, Christian.

As successful songwriters, record producers and music publishers Martin and Coulter became a wealthy and powerful partnership in the music industry. Apart from being writers/producers of their own songs, they started a publishing company called Martin-Coulter Music, and signed such other songwriters such as Van Morrison, Billy Connolly, Christy Moore, Donal Lunny, Eric Bogle, the progressive rock band Sky, Midge Ure and B. A. Robertson.

Although he continued to write music, Martin found himself gravitating to the business side of the music industry by the 1980s. His partnership with Coulter ended in 1983 when Martin bought out Coulter's share of the business. He later sold the company to EMI. In his business career, he successfully built up and sold numerous companies in such diverse fields as music publishing, marketing and properties. He once owned the rights for Van Morrison and East/Memphis Music Corp., which he sold respectively to Chappell Music and Rondor Music Catalogue.

In 1983 he produced the musical Jukebox, which had a six-month run in London's West End and was acclaimed in the Royal Variety Performance of that year. In 1984 he was executive producer on the Elkie Brooks album "Screen Gems" Now a collector's item.

Martin continues as a songwriter, music publisher and producer with Angus Publications. In 2000 he associated with Sony/ATV Music which sub-publishes his catalogue while he acquires music catalogues for his partners.

Over Christmas 2005, he found time to relax on a Saga Holidays cruise ship in the Caribbean, where he was a featured guest and gave talks on his career. He has since sailed with Fred Olsen Cruise ships, Cunard and P&O. He continues to enjoy his slot as a Celebrity Guest Speaker on these cruises around the world keeping the passengers entertained with his Stories Behind The Songs.

In the early 70s Martin bought the former home of John Lennon - Kenwood in St. George's Hill, although he later sold it and now lives in Belgravia, London.

On 4 October Bill Martin attended the OGAE (official Eurovision fanclub) convention or Eurobash in Birminghan. Bill spoke at length about his support for Eurovision and the making of `Puppet on a String` and `Congratulations` as well as other non-Eurovision hits.

Bill Martin was awarded The Gold Badge Award for services to the Music Industry by BASCA at a lunch at the Park Lane Hotel in London on 28th October 2009.

Honours and awards

  • Awarded three Ivor Novello Awards including one as Songwriter of the Year
  • Three ASCAP Awards
  • Award of Excellence (Rio de Janeiro, 1967 & 1969)
  • Yamaha Best Song Award (Japan, 1978)
  • Songwriter of the Decade (Scotland, 1980)
  • First British Winner (With Phil Coulter) of the Eurovision Song Contest with “Puppet on a String” (1967)
  • Numerous Silver, Gold & Platinum Discs.
  • Served on the British Academy of Songwriters (1960s)
  • Founding Member of the Society of Distinguished Songwriters (SODS) (1972)

References

External links

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