Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie announced his bandmate’s death in a lengthy social media tribute on Tuesday (Dec. 20), revealing that Duffy had died from a brain injury after falling at his home on Sunday (Dec. 18) in Brighton, England.
“We in Primal Scream are all so sad,” Gillespie wrote on Instagram, noting that he had known Duffy since he was a teenager in the indie band Felt. “He played keyboards on every album of ours from the first to the last. Finally joining the band in 1991. Martin was a very special character. He had a love and understanding of music on a deep spiritual level. Music meant everything to him.”
Duffy was born on May 18, 1967, in Birmingham, England. He joined Felt at the age of 16 in the mid-1980s before the group signed with Creation Records. Duffy was a member of the band until its split in 1989.
During his time in Felt, Duffy also joined recording sessions for Primal Scream’s first two albums, Sonic Flower Groove (1987) and Primal Scream (1989). He was a full-time member of the U.K. rock outfit by the release of its critically acclaimed 1991 album, Screamadelica. Decades later, Duffy contributed to frontman Gillespie’s 2021 collaborative album, Utopian Ashes, with Savages singer Jehnny Beth.
Following the death of The Charlatans‘ founding member Rob Collins in 1996, Duffy stepped in to perform with the veteran groove-rockers when the band supported Oasis at a concert in Knebworth that summer. He also contributed to the Charlatans’ 1997 album, Tellin’ Stories.
“Another tragic loss of a beautiful soul,” Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess wrote on Twitter. “Martin Duffy stepped in to save The Charlatans when we lost Rob – he played with us at Knebworth and was a true friend. He toured with me in my solo band too – he was a pleasure to spend time with. Safe travels Duffy.”
Duffy collaborated with numerous other musicians during his career, including Beth Orton, Chemical Brothers, Paul Weller and Jessie Buckley. He also released a solo album, Assorted Promenades, in 2014.
“Martin was the most musically talented of all of us,” Gillespie wrote. “His style combined elements of country, blues and soul, all of which he had a God given natural feel for. He never played the same thing twice, ever. 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.”
See Primal Scream’s full tribute below.