In my 2001 novel Festival one of the main characters is a Liverpudlian singer/songwriter called Jake. When he gets into the Glastonbury festival, the second act he sees is a young Welsh singer who’s doing a lot better than him: Matthew Jay. Jake stands at the front, watching enviously as Jay is ogled by several teenage girls.

I watched Jay’s set at Glasto, partly because I’d bought his first EP and liked it, mainly because I thought he’d fit in the book. He was good, just as I described him. At the time, he seemed to be destined for big things. There was a new acoustic boom. His first album was about to come out. I couldn’t for a moment have imagined that he’d be dead 39 months later, at the age of twenty-four.

What little I know about Jay’s death can be found at It’s impossible to know whether he jumped or fell. According to his record company His act would appear to have been an impulsive gesture following a professionally difficult year and perhaps, a difficult day. This uncertainty about his death is sadly reminiscent of the death of singer/songwriter Nick Drake, who I also wrote about in Festival.

This last month, one of my favourite artists, Warren Zevon, died after a long illness. So did the great Johnny Cash. I haven’t felt the need to write about either of them here. Musically, Matthew Jay may not have been in the same league as them. But I’m writing about Jay because he was a talented young man in the age group where men are most likely to kill themselves because of depression. I spent more than a few late teenage nights in the company of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon contemplating a bottle full of sleeping pills and the futility of human existence. My life got better, as most people’s do, if they have a little luck and give it time. There’s nothing romantic about suicide or the pain it causes to those left behind. It’s desperately sad.

Condolences to Matthew’s family, friends and fans.

3 Replies to “MATTHEW JAY RIP”

  1. It should be pointed out that more facts have emerged since Matthew’s death and his family strongly believe that he did not commit suicide,for reasons set out on the wikipedia entry at Yesterday, which would have been Matthew’s 33rd birthday, his family released ‘Dear Jane’, the last song he recorded before his untimely death. You can listen here or buy it on iTunes.

  2. obviously very sad, but matthew did commit suicide. i can understand his grieving parents not wanting to believe that he killed himself, but how do you end up accidently falling off the roof of a 6 story block of flats? why would you be up there in the first place?

  3. I’ve let this comment stand, but, unless you were there, I don’t know how you can be so sure – there are still unexplained aspects of his death, as the wikipedia entry suggests and we’ll never know what was going through his mind. The coroner recorded an open verdict, and that’s how it ought to remain.

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