Eurovision

#OBITUARY: Writer Bill Martin has died aged 81

OBITUARY: Writer Bill Martin has died aged 81

Songwriter, musician and impresario Bill Martin has died aged 81. You may not immediately recognise the name, but with his writing partner Phil Coulter, has written several Eurovision songs that have since become classics.

Born William Wylie MacPherson in Glasgow in 1938, he met Phil Coulter in 1965. Their first Eurovision collaboration was in 1967, yielding a win for the UK with Puppet on a string performed by Sandie Shaw in Vienna.

Buoyed by this success, Bill and Phil submitted one song to the BBC for the 1968 Contest in London. Their song Congratulations scored more than five times as many in the UK’s ‘Song for Europe’ national final, where all the songs were performed by Cliff Richard. As we know, this song famously came second, but reached Number One in the UK’s singles charts.

In 1975, Bill and Phil tried again, this time for Luxembourg. Phil Coulter’s future wife Geraldine Branagan sang the song Toi, which they’d co-written with Pierre Cour. Pierre had written or co-written for the Contest previously, and also had a winning songwriting credit under his belt. Toi came fifth.

They made one further attempt at Eurovision success in 1978. They wrote Shine it on for singer Christian. It finished third in the BBC’s Song for Europe.

Outside of Eurovision, Bill wrote or co-wrote many chart-friendly hits, including Number Ones for the England Football World Cup Squad, and Scottish band Slik. They wrote other hits for the Bay City Rollers, Cilla Black, and glam rock band Kenny.

Bill won three Ivor Novello awards including one for Songwriter of the year. He was named Scottish Songwriter of the decade in 1980. He was awarded an MBE in 2014 for services to music.

Eurovision Ireland’s thoughts are with Bill’s family at this sad time.

Author: John Stanton

Source: Eurovision Ireland

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