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The Wivenhoe Encyclopedia

image Martin Newell

Martin is a writer, broadcaster and musician, best-known nationally for his poetry and humorous writing and internationally for rock music.

He has had a dozen collections of verse published and one rock memoir, This Little Ziggy.  He was first published in 1984 in The Guardian.  In 1990 he became poet-in-residence and occasional columnist with The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. He has also contributed to Mojo, Record Collector, Viz Magazine and The Sunday Express where he is now poet-in-residence.

As a broadcaster he has frequently been heard on national BBC Radio in programmes such as  Off The Page, Loose Ends, The Today Programme, Poetry Please, Open Book, The Verb, Night Waves and Saturday Live. Martin has been the subject of two TV documentaries and is increasingly used as a guest presenter for BBC TV’s Inside Out series. A forthcoming programme, Rock Ferry, about the UK’s early rock music scene is to be screened on BBC1 in the near future.

imageMartin Newell’s chequered career as a rock singer and songwriter began making headway in the early 1980s when he led the notoriously anarchistic Cleaners From Venus, who broke up on the verge of international success, becoming the subject of a best-selling book, Lost In Music by Times journalist Giles Smith. During this time he worked for five years as a co-writer for the punk-rocker Captain Sensible. His solo career took off in 1993 after his first solo album, The Greatest Living Englishman was a success in America, Japan and France, being hailed as a  ‘rock classic’ by Rolling Stone magazine. Newell toured Germany, France, Japan and Iceland before finally quitting for a while to resume writing. At the end of the 1990s he signed to veteran London independent label, Cherry Red Records, where he is happily settled, having recently released his sixth solo album, A Summer Tamarind. Other musical activities have included working as librettist with French opera composer Francois Ribac, with English composer Colin Towns and as a songwriter for Richard Shelton the jazz singer whose orchestral debut album, featuring five Newell originals, was recorded in Abbey Road Studios in 2005. 

image In 2007, Martin flew to the Falklands for a writing assignment, made an album, conducted ten weeks of guided tours of Wivenhoe, and performed at a number of gigs including the Edinburgh Festival. He has recently completed a book about his home-town, A Prospect Of Wivenhoe and next year will see the publication of his Selected Works.  

A former garden labourer in Wivenhoe, now the country’s most-published living poet, he has lived and worked here since the mid 1970s. 



Left: Martin’s sixth solo album, A Summer Tamarind, was released by Cherry Red Records on 1st August 2007

Note: Album cover photo, left, and picture of Martin at the top of this page courtesy of Charlotte Bernays.