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February 2, 2009

May you never forget John Martyn’s leg-pulling

When singer John Martyn revealed in 2003 that his right leg had been amputated below the knee, he mischievously told some reporters this was because he’d been involved in a collision with a cow when worse the wear for drink. 

Although there had been an incident with a wayward cow 12 months before, the leg amputation was actually the result of a burst cyst. 

Fast forward to last Thursday, when Martyn died aged 60, and listeners to Radio Four’s Six O’Clock News heard entertainment reporter Colin Patterson, in a hastily compiled obit, repeat the old tale of the leg amputation being ‘due to an encounter with a dark cow on a dark night”. 

Ah, the dangers of playing jokes on journalists. The jokes live on in the cuttings library.

And for those who think war correspondents are the only journalists to risk life and limb, Axegrinder recommends you read Uncut editor Allan Jones’s brilliant account of his encounter with Martyn for Melody Maker before a gig at Leeds University in 1975. 

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