Ralph Marterie Biography

Ralph Martin, 24 December 1914, Accerra, near Naples, Italy, d. 10 October 1978, Dayton, Ohio, USA. While Marterie was still a child his parents emigrated to the USA, where his father joined the orchestra of the Chicago Civic Opera. Ralph was still a teenager when he started playing trumpet with Danny Russo’s Oriole Orchestra. He went on to play in local theatres and with other bands in Chicago, which was at that time the country’s largest musical centre outside New York. Consequently, Marterie never had to leave the city to find work, joining the NBC staff orchestra where he played under conductors such as Percy Faith and André Kostelanetz. During World War II Marterie led a US Navy band, then after the war he returned to Chicago as a leader with ABC radio.

In 1949 Marterie started recording for Mercury Records with his own band, which featured his brassy open trumpet. He did not achieve instant success but in 1952 the band spent 10 weeks in the US charts with ‘Caravan’, earning a second Gold Disc the following year with ‘Pretend’. His album and singles output varied between swing standards, novelties and pop instrumentals that highlighted his trademark of trumpet and guitar voiced together (compare his temporary partnership with guitarist/musical director Al Caiola on a cover version of ‘Acapulco 22’). There were moderate hits with ‘Guaglione’, ‘Skokiaan’ and ‘Tequila’, which were successful enough to maintain his reputation and keep him working through changing fashions in pop music. Marterie was still touring with a band until his death in Dayton, where he had just played a one-nighter in October 1978.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.