023 Martin Dean-Walker



Introducing Martin Dean-Walker, the man of many musical musings






Martin aged about 19 rocking some amazing flares

The Spiralling this week is a special one as me and Martin have never met, but he is a very good friend of my mum’s. He sent me a message on Facebook a little while ago asking if I was her daughter, he was trying to reconnect with her after no communication for a few years. It was certainly a bit of a shock but it’s been great getting to know Martin a little better and it has been really interesting for me to write this post.

Martin was born in the UK and since he was a young boy has been inspired and moved by the Delta and Mississippi blues artists such as Robert Johnson, Willie Brown, John Lee Hooker and Lead Belly. A little later he “got hooked on people like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Byrds and of course, The Rolling Stones.”

Working in London during the 80’s was quite a time for Martin! “It all started when Rory Gallagher asked me to help him out and find a rehearsal studio, organise transport and sort accommodation. When Rory was ready to go on tour in Germany he put me in touch with Led Zeppelin’s management team and I was employed as part of the support group that looks after everything behind the scenes. I would book flights, hotels, chauffeur driven cars for the band, sort security and make sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. After John Bonham died I left and joined Billy Gaff (he was, and still is Rod Stewart’s manager) at Riva Records. I toured with Rod and John Mellencamp in the UK. After a few years I went on tour for 18 months with The Drifters. Faye Treadwell managed the band and we did clubs, TV shows and theatres. During this period I had to find a Hammond C3 organ and get it to Brighton in 3 hours for Ray Charles to play at a gig. His first song ‘Georgia on my mind’ starts with the old C3 and I found the only working one left in the UK.”

Hugh Masekela & Sepho Mebuse with Martin at Senn Sound 1983

Later on in the 80’s and through to the early 90’s Martin managed Senn Sound and Kace International, the first companies to release music on VHS and Beta video. “Paul Weller from The Jam had a studio next door to my office and would pop in for a chat. He sometimes brought artists with him like Boy George, U2, UB40 and many more. I met so many famous artists over the years working with the bands. One of the bonuses of the job was to get free tickets to concerts, most with backstage/greenroom passes. Later I also worked closely with Virgin Music and Richard Branson setting up Virgin Video.” 


Martin at work – Gunbarrel Highway, Northern Goldfields, WA

In 1993 Martin moved to Australia, “When I moved, I found the availability and the range of music I had access to in the UK did not exist. Australia had import restrictions on CD’s and only allowed top 20 or out of copyright material (over 25 years old) into the country. However, Australia did have its own industry and artists that I had never heard of before, so a new journey began.”

He discovered artists suc as The Angels, Doc Neeson, Billy Thorpe and Russell Morris and then became involved with various local musicians. Then he went on to manage Fern Black, Smarty Boys, Giro and a band called Spin. He organised recording sessions in local studios and sorted out the bookings at local venues and music festivals, all whilst holding down a full time job and studying for a degree in Psychology. “After qualifying, I was offered a job that involved travelling all over South and Western Australia’s remote desert regions to promote ‘Self Governorship and Self-Determination’ to Aboriginal communities. So I had to give up managing the bands.”

Martin and Dave Jamming

Recently Martin has met a lot of musical friends by attending various performances in local pubs and venues. Dave Godfrey has been in various bands over the last 30 years and is a talented singer, composer and all round musician. “Dave encouraged me to take up the acoustic guitar, although not yet competent in my abilities, we have fun and have jam sessions whenever possible.” He became close friends with Dave and his family and was introduced to other highly talented musicians who all struggled to gain a foothold in the local music scene. “I soon realised that they had no idea about the legalities of copyright, marketing, promotions or bookings and played gigs for very little money. So I stepped in and assisted wherever I could. I am currently Dave’s manager, roadie, sound engineer, producer/director and backing artist and have released CD’s under the banner of my label Majikmusic.”

When I asked Martin what challenges he has faced he explained that live music performances in South Australia are controlled by 2 agencies who have a tight hold on 90% of all the regular venues. “They charge extortionate fees with only a small percentage going to the artist. We have managed to bypass the agencies by approaching venues that have not previously had live music performances at their businesses. These include Australian Rules Football Clubs, Working Men’s Clubs, Functions Centres and Vineyards who are happy to pay our modest fee.”

Fern Black and Trevor Old – Braydun Hill 2014

One of Martin’s proudest gigs to date was when he was managing Fern Black. They had applied to play at a concert for the 100th birthday of a town called Whyalla, 400 Km North of Adelaide. They got accepted to play and spent 3 weeks rehearsing with some professional session musicians, and then the Fern Black Band was ready. “We were booked to play a 30 minute set early in the evening. After the soundcheck in the morning, (which the head of SA Performing Arts Foundation had listened to) I was informed we had been shifted to a later slot, and were now the warm up for the headline band, Fruit, who are an international band with over 10 albums. Our time frame had been extended to 45 minutes so a few extra numbers had to be included and the set list re-written very quickly. At 10pm the band hit the stage and we soon had an audience of over 7000 people rocking. We had backing dancers from the local Jazz Ballet school and special effects from the 30 strong Audio/Visual team. The crowd went off, we did an encore and quickly got out of the way for the big act. After the gig, the Minister for Arts came up to me and said the Fern Black Band performance was better than anything they had seen all day! Comments like that remain in your brain for life.”

Martin at Groove Garden

In the future Martin will be recording a musical soundtrack for a 25 minute film about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota USA, the largest motorcycle rally in the world. “It was filmed by a friend last year and is in the process of being edited. Dave Godfrey is providing the acoustic guitar and vocals, whilst I record and engineer the soundtrack.” This year he is also hoping to complete the recording of ‘Face of an Angel’ at his studio “with Dave Godfrey – Acoustic Guitar/Vocals, Abby Hughes – Backing vocals, Trevor Old – Acoustic lead guitar, and myself as engineer, producer, director and barperson!”

Martin has gained a huge variety of musical experience throughout the years he has worked in the industry. “Music can, and often does have an intensely personal and emotional response from us. For many people involved across the music sector its more than just a vocation or job, its a way of life. There is something magical about a great live performance. Seeing a great band or solo artist can often be a very powerful and formative experience. Being able to expose highly talented musicians and original compositions to an appreciative audience is worth every hour of hard work.”

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