Martin Duffy, who played keyboard in Primal Scream, Felt, and Charlatans, died late last year at the age of 55 from injuries he sustained after falling in his home. Now, Duffy’s 19-year-old son, Louie, has accused his father’s former Primal Scream bandmates Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes of financial impropriety that left his father in financial ruin.
Louie Duffy made the allegations in a witness statement submitted to the West Sussex, Brighton and Hove Coroner as part of their inquest into his father’s death. Louie claimed that though Martin was initially an equal member of Primal Scream in the early 1990s, “he was gradually cut out from getting any songwriting credits, then touring and merchandise profits, eventually just being paid per gig.” Louie said that his father earned around £40k a year for playing with Primal Scream.
“Dad said the money only really started coming in when Primal Scream did the 20th anniversary tour of their most successful album Screamadelica in 2011 but he didn’t get to benefit from this as it was at this time that the band decided to demote him to only being paid as a session musician from then on,” Louie recounted.
Martin’s financial situation became dire during the pandemic, as “no gigs meant no income.” At the same time, he had also been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Louie claimed that just weeks after having surgery, and while still using a catheter, his father joined Primal Scream for their first post-COVID gig at Bigfoot Festival in Warwickshire in June 2021. “He insisted that he was fit to play but should never have attempted to do the gig, but by this time he was desperate for money,” Louie said. While in rehearsals, Martin experienced issues with his catheter, which left him “in agony,” and he eventually sought alcohol as a way to deal with the pain.
“Dad admitted that he had drunk alcohol before the gig but only to help him deal with the pain, he ended up having what he described as a ‘brain freeze’ on stage – a panic attack – and had struggled to play, something that had never happened to him before,” Louie stated. “This lead to the band suggesting that he go into ‘rehab’ but Dad was adamant that this was unnecessary as his issues were to do with his medical problems that day, but he did agree to go to alcohol counseling for a few months afterwards and was able to perform without incident at all subsequent gigs, a fact which has been confirmed by several people who worked with him.”
Louie further claimed that his father fell off the wagon in Spring 2022, after learning that Gillespie and Innes had sold half of the band’s back catalog for a sum of five million pounds. Martin did not receive any money from the transaction, Louie said, despite the fact that he played on all 11 of the band’s albums and had songwriting credits on two of them.
“After this, I witnessed him really start to go downhill. He became depressed – he started smoking again – and started drinking more. He knew then that he was never going to get his pay day, a time when he didn’t have to worry so much about paying the bills. All of our family and Dad’s friends noticed this change in him and tried to support him but felt helpless. I can say without any doubt that the band’s total disregard of Dad’s circumstances directly impacted on his mental health.”
Louie said that Martin was asked to leave Primal Scream due to his alcohol use, and he was told he would not be able to rejoin until he was sober. Martin began drinking more heavily, and in December 2022 he fell at his home and sustained a catastrophic brain jury. Louie said that the band paid for his father’s funeral, but that he has had no contact with Gillespie and Innes since then.
Primal Scream have not yet addressed Louie Duffy’s claims.