Mad Martins

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Gary Miller


Gary is Musical Director and Songwriter of the Mad Martins project and performs Lead & Backing Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, standard & octave Mandolins, occasional Electric Guitar, Bouzouki, and assorted traditional & invented Percussion on the album's song selections.

"As a song poet, there are few in the world today to match him." (Green Man Review, USA)

Internationally-acclaimed songwriter, performer and recording artist Gary Miller was born on 24th September 1966, in Durham City, in the North East of England. He was raised in Sherburn Village, a small ex-mining community three miles east of Durham City.

In 1985, at the age of Eighteen, he founded British folk-rock cult-legends The Whisky Priests (1985-2002) with his accordionist twin brother Glenn - the brothers were once described by a UK journalist as “the Joe Strummer & Mick Jones of folk music” - rising to international prominence during the mid-Eighties and throughout the Nineties as The Whisky Priests’ principal songwriter, lead singer, guitarist & mandolin player.

He simultaneously and successfully co-managed the band’s entire business affairs with his twin brother Glenn and together they founded their own independent record label Whippet Records, in 1988, for releasing Whisky Priests and related recordings worldwide. The Mad Martins triple CD & Book (WPTCDB24) is the 24th release in the Whippet Records catalogue.

The Whisky Priests released a string of internationally acclaimed albums but were particularly renowned for their incredible live shows : -

“A Whisky Priests show is the sort of stuff to make your hair curl; honest, earthy, loud, raucous and tremendously uplifting” (Folk Roots, UK)

Other major musical projects have included Mad Dogs and Englishmen, an acoustic trio with his twin brother Glenn and acclaimed singer-songwriter Joseph Porter of Blyth Power, which produced the album 'Going Down With Alice' in 2000 and live performances in various European countries throughout 2000-2002.

When Gary and his twin-brother Glenn decided to dissolve The Whisky Priests in 2002, for various personal reasons, Gary was forced to temporarily cease regular live performance and professional recording as a result of what became a long-term illness over a period of several years but continued working in the music industry, for example, as an artist booking agent at Adastra (now known as Strada Music); as a music industry tutor at York College of Further Education to National Diploma and First Diploma students; on a variety of projects in collaboration with other artists including 'Stand Fast, Stand Steady', a folk duo album and tour in 2005 with acclaimed German accordion virtuoso Ralf Weihrauch; as a commissioned songwriter; and as a qualified and experienced community arts practitioner, developing and working on a wide variety of community and theatre projects throughout the UK and beyond, as a musical director and workshop leader/facilitator.

In the meantime, he worked as a co-director and committee member of various arts organisations and mental health groups, throughout the UK, and established Gary Miller Songs, as an outlet for his various self-financed and supported freelance projects, including solo projects, numerous community arts projects, and other extra-curricular activities, much of it under the Whippet Records umbrella.

In 2010, following his self-imposed sabbatical from performing and recording, he released 'Reflections on War', his highly anticipated and landmark ground-breaking debut solo album and first CD of all new material in 10 years, which grew out of a community arts project for York Museums Trust...

"Gary Miller has a distinctive voice which he uses to deliver songs in a very direct manner. On this CD, however, he has experimented with different approaches. These contrasts, combined with varied musical arrangements on each track and Gary’s ability to compose strong melodies, make for a riveting listen... those who seek challenge and intelligence in the music they listen to will, like me, welcome the re-emergence of this unique talent." (Joe Grint, Tykes News, UK).

In 2017, it was announced that The Whisky Priests would be reuniting to perform a series of reunion concerts. The 'Bloody Well Back' Reunion Tour took in 9 concerts in 4 countries during October/November 2018. To coincide with the tour, Whippet Records released 'Bloody Well Everything' (The Complete Works 1985-2000)', a career-spanning retrospective 12-disc CD box-set...

"An exceptional body of work from a great band that has been much missed" (Ian Croft, RnR Magazine, UK).

Gary’s latest songwriting projects include: -

'From Coalfield to Battlefield’, a series of songs specially written and recorded for 'When The Bugle Calls', a 12-month travelling exhibition celebrating the Music of the Durham Light Infantry, commissioned by the DLI Research & Study Centre. As part of the project, Gary has collaborated with Ferryhill Town Band. 'From Coalfield to Battlefield' has so far yielded four singles and an EP, with a full-length album due to follow.

'The Butcher Baronet', a 'Folk-Rock Opera', Visual Exhibition, Double CD, Book and Film Documentary in collaboration with Lone Pine Pictures and Helen Temperley about the mysterious 17th Century historical figure John Duck ("Durham's Dick Wittington").

'Northern Grit (The Good The Bad & The Greedy)', a song and illustration CD, Book and Visual Exhibition project in collaboration with his partner, Mad Martins illustrator Helen Temperley, based on a selection of intriguing and inspirational well-known and lesser-known figures from North East England, including Catherine Cookson, Mary Ann Cotton, Peter Lee, Jonathan Martin, Joseph Skipsey: The Pitman Poet of Percy Main, George Stephenson, Thomas Spence, and more.

Northern Grit was launched at the People's Bookshop in Durham City on 31st March 2019 with a display of illustrations by Helen and a performance of songs to accompany them by Gary, followed by a month-long exhibition of Helen's work for the project throughout April 2019 at the People's Bookshop. 

In 2020, Gary announced the launch of his new band project 'Gary Miller's Big Picture', with plans for a debut album and tour in 2021/22.

Also in 2020, Gary began work on his autobiography and is due to be the subject of a documentary film, 'One Gary Miller', by Lone Pine Pictures.

Meanwhile, he is currently planning a new solo album and solo tour for late 2021.


The Whisky Priests live at Markthalle Hamburg, 1992 (above).


Select Quotes

"Gary has a real flair for conjuring imagery from the past with a gritty reality. He possesses an inbuilt and empathic understanding of social history, which is voiced in direct tell-it-like-it-is language (not lacking in literacy or lyrical expression, however), boosted by a keen sense of melodic invention, manifested in canny tunes and often seriously catchy choruses. There’s also a strong regional (north-east) folk sensibility within Gary’s songwriting that’s key to the memorability of his songs." (FRUK).

"Miller actually writes great songs with words that mean something and are usually substantially rooted. His ability as a songwriter who captures folk sentiment and communal memory must now be unquestioned." (Folk Roots, UK).

“A writer of cleverly composed mini-epics. Gary Miller has managed to produce some excellent images of life in the past and the present day.” (Rock ‘N’ Reel, UK).

"Miller has the glorious knack of penning irresistible choruses with a lyrical depth beyond the norm and a strong commercial ear, his worth as a composer ought to be worth its weight in gold." (Folk on Tap, UK).

"One of the most literate and insightful songwriters in the world of folk-rock; his writing has always been exemplary. He touches on every level of human emotion. And his melodies are equally as brilliant as his prose." (All Music Guide, USA).

"One of the best lyricists of our time." (Backline, UK).

"Miller has an enviable range." (Musician, UK).

“Forceful biting lyrics. In years to come (his) songs will be documents of our social history.” (Folktalk, UK).

“Cracking songs which show a good eye for gritty and earthy reality. Images, sympathies and genuine true life are painted with such a vast range of colours – why hasn’t Gary brought out a book of poetry?” (The Modern Dance, UK).

“A fine songwriter, offering skillfully drawn portraits of characters and life.” (Outlook, UK).

“The feel of Gary Miller’s lyrics carries traditional sensibilities. His original lyrics are as appealing as the melodies to which they’re set.” (Dirty Linen, USA).

“The songs of Gary Miller are modern folk music, no less.” (Folk On Tap, UK).

“Words with powerful imagery by a powerful wordsmith. He has the ability to draw on aspects of his own experience and adapt and develop these into strong story lines - these are songs to identify with. His eloquant and impassioned delivery speaks to the lost innocent in us all. I’d like to hear a range of singers tackling Gary’s great songs.” (Folk Buzz, UK).

"As a song poet, there are few in the world today to match him." (Green Man Review, USA)