In 1978 I moved from Belfast to London where I began working for Warner Bros. in their writers studio doing sessions for, among others, Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Gary Holton (Heavy Metal Kids/actor), Ronnie Thomas and Clive Langer (producer of Madness, Elvis Costello, Gil Evans and Hothouse Flowers). This led to my recording two albums for the sixties band The Searchers who were signed to Warner Brothers at the time.
After leaving the Warner's studio I worked with Clive Langer on his own album and several other projects including the singles ‘Remember’ by Pete Wylie (WAH) and Robert Wyatt’s ‘Shipbuilding’, which was voted single of the year in 1983. With Clive Langer and the Boxes I toured extensively throughout Europe supporting Madness and Elvis Costello, appearing at the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival.
For a number of years I freelanced as a session musician working for Phonogram, Polydor, EMI , Stiff, Sire and Demon Records. This involved me in projects with Joan Armatrading, John Isley (Dire Straights), Desmond Dekker, Carlene Carter (step daughter of the country singer Johnny Cash), Sally Oldfield (sister of ‘Tubular Bells’ Mike Oldfield), Keith Emerson and Jack Bruce, Troy Tate, Bill Hurley, The Inmates, The Adventures, Any Trouble, Gregson and Collister and Deaf School (featuring guitarist Reeves Gabrels).
During the same period I spent two seasons in the pit at the Young Vic Theatre in London and worked on the musical drama ‘Motherland’ which explored the cultural and historical background of black residents in the Brixton area.
In 1990 I collaborated with the flautist Guo Yue to present Chinese folk music and culture to western audiences. Our concerts in England, France, Austria, Spain, Belgium and Australia (where we played the Adelaide Festival) were widely acclaimed.
From 1992 to 1998 I spent time teaching and presenting percussion workshops in primary and secondary schools in the London area, recorded tracks with Chris Difford (Squeeze) and Clive Langer for the movie ‘Still Crazy’ (featuring Billy Connolly, Stephen Rae, Timothy Spalls and Jimmy Nail), worked with Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson on Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Baptist Hospital’ album and played with contemporary folk and jazz musicians in the project Scarp.
Through 1999 I recorded and toured with fellow Belfast exile Bap Kennedy promoting his highly praised ‘Lonely Street’ album and toured with Mark Nevin (Fairground Attraction, Morrisey) promoting his ‘Mighty Doves’ record.
In 2000 I had a brief encounter with Pete Doherty’s embryonic ‘Libertines’. In the Spring and Summer of 2002 I worked with Nicky Scott & Jimmy Smyth on a project in Ireland for Belfast legend Van Morrison. The same year I recorded with John Wood and Clive Gregson on Kirsty McGee's award winning ‘Honeysuckle’ album.
2003 I moved to Portugal where I set up a studio to write and record music.
I reunited with John and Clive in 2004 for the Edwina Hayes ‘Out on my Own’ record also featuring Neill McColl and Mark Griffiths.
Between 2005 and 2007 I toured with Dr. Hook vocalist Dennis Locorriere on his ‘Lucky Ones’ and ‘Hits and History’ tours (now on DVD), recorded Ed Deane’s ‘Slideshow’ at my home and played on Any Trouble’s long awaited reunion record ‘Life in Reverse’ for the resurrected Stiff label.
2009 saw me back in Ireland to record Errol Walsh’s ‘No Borders’ album for the Huntington’s Disease charity, and Anthony Toner’s ‘Duke of Oklahoma’ record.
In 2011 I recorded with Mark Griffiths (The Shadows, The Rutles) on Clive Gregson’s ‘Bitter Sweet’ album.
In June 2013 Clive, Mark and myself reassembled for Maria Silker’s album ‘Little did I Know’, again in 2014 for Any Trouble’s ‘Present Tense’ album and in 2015 for a UK tour.
Gregson and Collister “Mischief” 1987
“The Dream of the Red Mansion” 1993
Bap Kennedy “Moonlight Kiss”
Still Crazy “Soundtrack)” (Movie)
30th Anniversary of
Robert Wyatt’s "Shipbuilding" 2013
Martin Hughes playing the drums with Any Trouble. UK tour Liverpool 2015. Photo by Sara Porter
Audio Tracks by Martin Hughes