Farewell, Bob Martin, Singer-Songwriter Extraordinaire

Farewell, Bob Martin

We learned this week that Bob Martin, singer-songwriter of the first rank, passed away after a long illness. Music guru Dave Perry has a tribute on Facebook. Bob was a friend of mine for a long time. I met him in the 1980s when he was already an established musical artist. A brilliant guy from Lowell, he wasn’t contained by the city even as it inspired him—and he became widely respected among his performing peers. He toured New England and across the U.S., playing in cafes and music halls, and then took his songs to Europe. He brought me a book of poems from Russia after one visit.

We are waiting for the media notice about his passing and funeral arrangements, but in the meantime for those not familiar with Bob, here’s a bio note from a recent anthology of writing from Cork in Ireland and Lowell that featured the lyrics from Bob’s song “My Father Painted Houses,” which appeared alongside poems, stories, and essays.

Bob Martin is a singer-songwriter from Lowell whose albums include The River Turns the Wheel, Next to Nothin’, Last Chance Rider, and Midwest Farm Disaster, his first album, which was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1972. He left the music business for a time and managed the Mountain Heritage School for traditional music and crafts in West Virginia before returning to Lowell. He has toured across the U.S. as well as in Europe, performing and recording with artists like Bill Morrissey, Cormac McCarthy, Merle Haggard, and drummer Kenny Buttrey, who played on Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan. A graduate of Suffolk University, he lives in Lowell with his wife, Anne Marie.

I posted updates and observations about Bob and his music on this blog over the years.

Below are a few links:

This post includes a story about David Bowie that Bob told me, plus a story about his boyhood dreams.

This post recounts a time that Bob and I went to an Irish festival at St Patrick’s in 2016.

And here’s Bob singing “My Father Painted Houses”


Bob’s official website is riversong.com 

You can learn more about him and order music at this site.

We send our sympathy to Anne Marie and the family.

He’s a light that will always shine.




4 Responses to Farewell, Bob Martin, Singer-Songwriter Extraordinaire

  1. Steve O'Connor says:

    Very sorry to hear this news. The best song writer ever to come out of Lowell. Good guy with a big talent and a love for his hometown. Thank you Bob Martin.

  2. Jerry BIsantz says:

    Oh so sad! Image Theater hired Bob to perform between readings at one of our “ City Stories” at Old Court. He lived in my neighborhood and I would visit him and his wonderful wife. What an immense talent! His voice sounded like he gargled with nails and he could hold a note at the end of a song that would give you chills. I have all
    His albums. No one wrote about Lowell in song better than Bob. What a great guy. Big loss for our City

  3. Shelly Bridges says:

    I was heartbroken when I got the message.Bob and his wife Anne have been apart of my life since I was in my early teens,would babysit Tammy and Jessie when they lived in Bolton. Was there when his first album came out,we would listen to it all night long.So many stories but always will be with me in my heart,RIP Bob.

  4. Charles Gargiulo says:

    So sorry to belatedly hear about the passing of Bob Martin. I had the pleasure of becoming friendly with Bob back in the 80’s and like everyone else who heard him, became a fan of his immense talent as a singer-songwriter. My deepest sympathy to his loved ones. He has left us artistry that will stand the test of time and will continue to comfort and inspire those who hear his songs. Keep sharing them and keep his legacy alive. RIP Bob.