Vale Martin Armiger – a great talent mourned

Esteemed musician/composer and Flinders alumnus Martin Armiger (BA(Hons) 1974) passed away last week. The 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner had turned 70 in June. He was Head of Screen Composition at the Australian Film and Television School when he received his award from Flinders.

During his time at Flinders, Martin was a significant figure in student life, as a key collaborator on the original Empire Times publications with inaugural editor Martin Fabyini.

Mr Armiger was born in Hertfordshire, England, but raised in Elizabeth after his family emigrated to South Australia in 1965.

He is most fondly remembered as guitarist, singer and songwriter in seminal 1970s pub rock band The Sports. The Melbourne-based outfit blazed a trail for ambitious Australian rock bands, having toured internationally on the back of hits including Don’t Throw Stones (1979), Strangers on a Train (1980) and How Come (1981). Singer Stephen Cummings, Martin’s bandmate in The Sports, paid tribute to him as a “generous friend… great musician… he was a beauty!”

After the band dissolved in 1981, Martin went on to a distinguished composing career. He wrote the scores for more than 50 films and television projects, including the Australian feature movies Pure Shit, Young Einstein, and Cane Toads: The Conquest. He was musical director for the ABC series Sweet and Sour, composed for Stringer and Come In Spinner, and wrote a new version of the ABC news music, then a minor rearrangement to freshen it up because it remained such a cherished tune.

He ran the screen composition course at the Australian Film Television and Radio School for 14 years and was president of the Australian Guild of Screen Composers for seven years.

Throughout his career Martin won an impressive collection of awards, including an AFI and four Arias.

After retiring, Martin went to France with his wife, writer Maureen O’Shaughnessy, and set up Maison Lyre, a retreat and intensive creative centre for musicians and writers.

Caitlin Yeo, a key screen composer and the current president of the Australian Guild of Screen Composers paid high tribute to Martin. “Our entire community is absolutely devastated. He was absolutely instrumental in teaching nearly all of us. His legacy is gargantuan.”

His brother Keith, also a musician, announced on Facebook that Martin “passed away peacefully in France” after succumbing to a long battle with lung disease. He is survived by his wife Maureen and daughters Kelly and Claudia.


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