Scottish songwriter and music publisher, Bill Martin, has passed away at the age of 81. Bill wrote three Eurovision entries – “Puppet on a String”, “Congratulations” and “Toi”.
Bill’s songwriting partner, Phil Coulter, expressed his condolences on Twitter, stating that Bill’s passing marks the “end of an era”.
Life and career
Bill Martin was born on 9th November 1938 in Govan, near Glasgow in Scotland. He wrote his first song at the age of 10, however did not have a song released until 1963. His first song to be released on record was Tommy Quickly’s “Kiss Me Now”.
In 1965, he met his songwriting partner Phil Coulter who he worked with for almost twenty years. Together, they wrote songs for many major artists including Elvis Presley, Cilla Black, The Foundations and George Harrison.
Martin, along with Coulter, wrote his first Eurovision song in 1967 – “Puppet on a String”. The song, which was performed by Sandie Shaw for the United Kingdom won the contest. The following year, they also wrote “Congratulations” for Cliff Richard which finished second in the contest. Their two Eurovision hits both hit number 1 in the UK. They also had two more number 1 hits with songs by the 1970 England World Cup Squad and Silk.
In 1975, Martin was co-awarded the Ivor Novello Award for “Songwriter of the Year”, with Coulter. During the mid-1970s, the writing duo had three US number 1s, including “My Boy” by Elvis Presley.
Martin wrote his third and last Eurovision entry in 1975, “Toi”, for Luxembourg. The song was performed by Geraldine, who went on to become Coulter’s wife. The song finished fifth in the contest. They also attempted for a fourth Eurovision entry in 1978 however their attempt failed, finishing 3rd in the UK pre-selection.
Following that, Martin continued to produce and write music including for the West End musical, Jukebox. In 2017, he released his autobiography Congratulations: Songwriter to the Stars.
The thoughts of the entire team at ESCXTRA are with Bill Martin’s friends and family in these difficult times.