“Martin Sutherland was a philosopher who played his Fender guitars with deafening loudness and uttered his words with quiet intelligence.”
Thus wrote Martin’s friends following his distressing and untimely death in December 2011. Ultimately overwhelmed by severe depression, debilitating insomnia and unbearable social phobia, Martin took his own life leaving a Martin-sized gap in the world that can never be filled. He also left behind a legacy of happy memories for those who knew him and an abundance of music which we hope will be shared far and wide whether you knew him or not.
Martin was born in Preston in 1984 and brought up in Lancaster. He attended Moorside Primary School and Lancaster Royal Grammar School (LRGS) before moving on to study at Leeds and Lancaster Universities. He had enormous passions for history, literature and science, all driven by an underlying curiosity about the world. These passions were not shaped by conventional wisdom nor perceived truths and he questioned or analysed almost everything he came across. In due course and despite, for him, mounting and exhausting mental health issues, he graduated from Lancaster University with a First Class Honours degree in History followed by a Masters degree in Historical Research.
“Because of his searching mind and his great conviviality, sitting in an old pub with Martin was one of the greatest pleasures in life. He was able to wax lyrical, entirely without pretence, about Vladimir Nabokov or Blackburn Rovers, Asterix or black holes. He was a magnetic presence and was perhaps unknowingly the central cog of a large friendship group. He probably didn’t realise how many people’s lives he touched and how loved he was. He was, many people have said, the best friend anyone could ask for.”
Academically gifted certainly, yet music was Martin’s biggest love. He first picked up a guitar (acoustic, 3⁄4 size) aged 9 and it soon became clear that here was something that he had a real talent for. Before long he had moved on to the electric guitar and the volume increased tenfold. Over the course of his all too short career, Martin played guitar everywhere…from small acoustic sets in pubs, to gigs with his various band members, through to big band concerts at home and abroad with LRGS Big Band and the Lancaster Community Music Centre Showband.
Martin will no doubt be best remembered for his guitar playing but he also played the drums, cello, timpani and he was an expert at creating electronic music. He was the beating heart of the bands he was in over the years and was a powerhouse of musical talent. His friends have said that watching Martin perform was a privilege and it was an education, for both the audience and his band members.
He is sadly missed.