Long time member of Primal Scream Martin Duffy passed away at the end of December 2022. He was just 55. The inquest into what happened is currently happening, and Duffy’s son Louie has submitted a seven page statement about the death of his father. It’s heartbreaking reading, and explains Louis’ view that Primal Scream, or more precisely core members including Bobby Gillespie betrayed his father.
The entire statement is here: http://www.dafts.co.uk/louieduffystatement.pdf
We have included some tragic sections below. Louis never tries to hide his father’s alcoholism, but says that other factors were in play.
“Last year in spring 2022, Dad finally got the all clear for his cancer and he was very happy – we all were – it was such a relief after so many months of worry. But then, shortly after this, at the end of April, he read in the press that the band had sold half of their back catalogue to BMG – for what turned out to be five million pounds – and he didn’t receive a penny. He wasn’t consulted or even told about it. Dad had played on every Primal Scream album – had songwriting on at least two – but still the band chose not to offer him the opportunity to get his share, at a time they knew he really needed financial help.
Although he only had a comparatively small amount of publishing, if he had been included in this sale it would have been life-changing for Dad. He could have cleared the debt he had built up during lockdown and been able to pay off some of the mortgage, relieving him of all of his money worries. When he asked about it, he was told by his manager – who is also the band’s manager – that “it wouldn’t be worth his solicitor’s fees pursuing it”. It is clear that Dad’s interests were never properly managed on his behalf.
Dad was understandably really shocked that he had been sidelined in this way, he did not live an extravagant life, as long as he could pay his monthly bills he was happy. But after this, I witnessed him really start to go downhill. He became depressed – he started smoking again – and started drinking more. He knew then that he was never going to get his pay day, a time when he didn’t have to worry so much about paying the bills. All of our family and Dad’s friends noticed this change in him and tried to support him but felt helpless. I can say without any doubt that the band’s total disregard of Dad’s circumstances directly impacted on his mental health.
The last time I saw Dad play was at Glastonbury in June last year. It was the 50th anniversary of the festival and he had a felt trilby hat made especially for the occasion – in claret and blue – Aston Villa’s colours. I watched the gig from the side of the stage, Dad looked great and was on top form. But just a week later, when the band played in Glasgow, he apparently drank too much and messed up. The next morning, the band (Gillespie and Innes) and the tour manager had a meeting with him and made him leave the tour, telling him to get help. The band had great reviews for that gig – I doubt fans would have even noticed the mistakes he made that night – Dad told me there had been times when other members of the band occasionally made mistakes without any consequences.
Dad admitted that he had drunk alcohol before the gig, he made no excuses, he was embarrassed about it but couldn’t believe that after one mistake, the band hadn’t even given him a warning. He told me that he begged them to give him a chance, told them it wouldn’t happen again but they refused – I know Dad – just a reprimand would have been enough to get him back on track.
After he died, Andrew Innes told my Mum that the reason they got Dad to leave the tour was because “No one wants to pay to see a 60 year old man fall over on stage”. My Dad was only 55 and as far as the family have been told by people who know, he never once fell over on stage.
After being forced off the tour, I literally saw Dad age 10 years in a matter of weeks. The band continued to pay him his session fees for the tour but by then I don’t think it was just about money worries for Dad, he had been a member of Primal Scream for the majority of his life, he had lost his identity.
Last summer Dad was in a panic about the possibility of losing our home, which the band were fully aware of. Rather than offer him a small loan to clear his debts – so he could concentrate on getting well – when he contacted the manager, was just advised to either try and get equity released from his flat or to sell it if he couldn’t afford to pay his mortgage in the future. Dad did go ahead and put his flat on the market but this only added to his stress. So, not a good time for him to try and get sober with that kind of pressure, I don’t really know what they expected.
At the same time Dad was also stressing about not being able to pay his previous year’s tax bill of £8,000. Friends did offer to lend him the money but he was too proud to accept this help. He was very angry to be in this position because he said Bobby Gillespie still owed him money – having never paid Dad for playing on his solo album “Utopian Ashes” the previous year – I remember Dad going up on the train to London many times to work on that album.”
“In the publicity after Dad’s death, Bobby Gillespie was congratulated by many for his ‘beautiful’ tribute, in which he stated that Dad was “the most talented musician of all of us” which is high praise for a session musician. Dad had a very unique talent, the band described him as their “Soul Brother” but I think Dad actually was ‘the soul’ in Primal Scream. It took his death for his contribution to be acknowledged and for him to be given the respect he deserved.
I’ve seen on Instagram how Bobby Gillespie is always urging everyone to support the strikers – fair pay for the workers – and there is nothing wrong with that, Dad supported the strikers too, but not if at the same time you aren’t paying your own bandmate of over 30 years even a small share of the tour profits to make his life easier. As the band got older they did less touring and more one-off gigs which meant Dad was getting paid less and less, only earning around £40k a year for playing with Primal Scream, not a lot for someone with his talent and experience.”