During a family visit to Blackpool in 1969 Nicholas overheard the Wurlitzer organ being played in the famous Tower Ballroom by none other than Reginald Dixon. Upon hearing that instrument, performed by “Mr. Blackpool”, in that environment, Nick was overwhelmed with the organ. It was shortly after this visit that Nick started his musical studies – but on the piano. It was suggested that a good piano playing background would be advantageous to develop a later organ-playing technique. So Nick was eleven years old before he actually settled down to learning the organ.
Several years of diligent practice then ensued, on the organ, before Nick applied for a job to perform at Blackpool Tower. Quite incredibly his ambition was realised in 1981 – at just 17 years of age when he was accepted as a resident organist at the famous venue! He then played there for the 1981 and ’82 summer seasons on the Wurlitzer organ. His dream had come true!
In 1982 Nick met up with a Northamptonshire businessman, who had the idea of him becoming the resident organist at his proposed new entertainments venture – in Northampton. This was to be called “Turner’s Musical Merry-Go-Round” and would house a variety of musical and fairground antiquities including a 1930’s Wurlitzer organ and an 1890’s ‘Galloper’s’ Carousel. In 1983 Nick took the new job offer and commenced his long 21-year association with “Turner’s”. From the outset the business proved to be an immense hit with people travelling far and wide to experience it’s unique form of entertainment and unusual environment.
Whilst at “Turner’s” Nick managed to record over thirty albums on the Wurlitzer organ – on L.P., cassette tape, CD and Video formats. “Turner’s” was ultimately open for over 21 years from April 1983 until July 2004. During that time it is estimated the business catered to over three and a half million visitors! Mr. Turner decided to retire in 2004 but not before he’d arranged to sell the land, on which “Turner’s” sat, for building purposes. Now there are 93 new homes on the old site. The many exhibits contained within, including the Wurlitzer and Carousel ride, were all sold privately to a family in Bedfordshire.
Immediately after “Turner’s” closed in 2004 Nick was offered the post of Musical Director at Wicksteed Park at Kettering in Northamptonshire. Wicksteed is a family theme park set in over 100 acres of parkland. He remained there as M.D. until December 2008. These days he tours extensively around the U.K. performing both concerts and dances and using either a Technics GA-3 instrument or an in-situ pipe organ.
In February 2014 Nick makes his 29th trip to Florida, U.S.A. He has been visiting the ‘Kirk of Dunedin’ in Florida since 1985, and has a strong “Floridian fan base”. In 2010, to mark his 25th anniversary of playing at the Kirk, he released a celebratory CD – “25 Years at the Kirk”. Then in 2011 he produced a DVD recording – “Live at the Kirk” – following numerous requests from his fans here and abroad.
Back home Nick is sometimes heard on BBC Radio 2’s – “The Organist Entertains” programme which has been “on air” since the early 1970’s. He has also made several brief appearances on T.V. – especially during his days spent at “Turner’s”.
One of his recording “claims to fame” is a CD he did of non-copyright music in 1997. This is now held in the prestigious Carlin Recorded Music Library in London and is used by Media companies’ worldwide when the sound of the ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ is required for T.V. media purposes.
The “Nicholas Martin Fan Club” was formed in 1995. There are currently around 450 members that receive the quarterly newsletters. These detail all Nick’s playing activities, recording information and further developments within the charity “Miracles to believe in”. Members are also “exclusively entitled” to come along to the Martin home for fundraising charity events. Membership of the Club costs just £7.50 per annum.
In 2013 Nick, and that “bubbly Lancashire lass” Elizabeth Harrison decided to merge their talents and form “Fine Tune Events” Festivals. Under this name Nick and Liz organise outstanding weekend music festivals – featuring top keyboard and organ stars in concert, playing for dancing, performing demonstrations and teach-ins – plus support from trade retailers too. Further details may be obtained by visiting finetuneevents.com.
Nick and his wife Marianne have two sons – James & Joshua. The family lives in Markfield, Leicestershire. Both James and Joshua suffer with autism, which means they have severe learning and communication difficulties. As a result, in Feb. 2001 Nick and Marianne co-founded a charity to help children, and families, affected by autism: “Miracles to Believe in” (Reg. Charity No: 1101463). Since the charity’s inception over £200,000 has been raised for this worthwhile cause. This is a particularly close thing to Nick’s heart and he uses every opportunity he can to promote it at his numerous engagements. Indeed it is the audiences at these events that have helped to make the charity the success it is today. Nicholas Martin was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the New Year’s Honours.
For further information on the charity please speak to Nick or visit the charity website at: miracles-to-believe-in.co.uk.