TRIBUTES have been paid to a Wye Valley musician who played US Live Aid with Led Zeppelin and Phil Collins, and starred on Robert Plant’s first three solo albums.

Monmouth’s Paul Martinez, who died earlier this month, was a well known session musician at Rockfield Studios and beyond, and spent much of the 1980s in the rock spotlight, playing in the former Zeppelin singer’s band and touring the world when Plant lived in Penallt.

Paul’s family have paid tribute to a: “Dearly loved husband of Susi, cherished father of Carla, Jerome, Macy, Louis and Joey, treasured grandfather of Jack, Jakob and Isabella, brother of Ray and Rick, a much-loved uncle and friend to many.”  

Rockfield Studios’ Kingsley Ward added: “Paul has been an integral part of Rockfield for many years, both professionally as a musician and also as a good friend of the Ward family.

“To us he was Mr Rock ’n’ Roll. An exceptionally talented musician and such a wonderful character who befriended so many of the artists recording here. Everyone who met him loved him. As part of the Rockfield All Stars band he helped raise £1,000s for charities. He will be missed by us all and I’m sure had no idea just how much he meant to so many.”

The bass player and guitarist also played with Plant’s Honeydrippers R’n’B side project, which played Monmouth’s Roll’s Hall – now the library – and the town’s riverside field in the 1980s.  

And he also rubbed shoulders with members of Deep Purple, playing on Paice, Ashton and Lord’s Malice in Wonderland album in 1977, and appearing with them on BBC2’s Sight And Sound: In Concert and Radio 1 Live In Concert.

Other stars he played with included Cat Stevens, Peter Gabriel, Dave Edmunds, Chicken Shack and even The Beatles’ George Harrison.  

But his most high-profile moment came when he was asked in 1985 to appear with the three surviving Zeppelin stars at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia for US Live Aid, aong with Chic drummer Tony Thompson and Phil Collins, who dashed across the Atlantic in Concorde after playing Wembley in UK Live Aid.

Nearly 90,000 watched the showcase live at the stadium, which featured Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love and Stairway To Heaven, with an incredible 1.5 billion watching around the world on TV.

Martinez played bass in Plant’s solo band at the time, which helped the singer score three hit albums with Pictures At Eleven (1982), The Principle of Moments (1983) and Shaken ‘N’Stirred (1985), all recorded at Rockfield.

The group also contained Monmouth-based Robbie Blunt on guitar, who co-wrote many of the songs with Plant, including Burning Down One Side, Pledge Pin, Big Log, Other Arms, In The Mood and Little By Little.

Pictures At Eleven, which featured Collins and Cozy Powell on drums, reached No 2 in the UK charts and No 5 in the US, while the follow up reached No 7 and No 8 respectively. Shaken ’N’ Stirred, which featured Paul as co-writer on six songs, also reached No 19 in the UK and No 20 in the US.

Plant returned to Monmouth in 2011 to link up with Paul again in a star-studded charity show at Bridges community centre. The gig played in aid of the Pick’s Disease Support Group in honour of late Rockfield producer Pat Moran, also included Verden Allen of Mott the Hoople, Rockpile star Edmunds, Martin Chambers of The Pretenders and Paul’s brother Ray.

Plant revealed recently how his solo career began in Monmouth after the death of Zeppelin drummer John Bonham in 1980.

Having formed the Honeydrippers to play rock ’n’ roll in pubs and clubs anonymously in and around the West Midlands, he said: “There’s only so many times you can play Gene Vincent’s songs for 13 people in a club, so I thought, ‘I really want to know whether or not we can make a big sound that sounds big without it being really really heavy and tough.’

“So, I went to what is now Monnow Valley Studios and put a group together with Cozy Powell and Paul Martinez, Robbie Blunt... And so we put this band together, started writing songs, and they rolled out in a haphazard way, and we went to Rockfield and started recording.”

Paul’s funeral is next Wednesday (March 6) at the Forest of Dean Crematorium at 1.30pm.

Sadly, Paul’s brother Rick also passed away last autumn, and the Martinez Brothers Music Foundation will be launched online on the day of Paul’s funeral.