Freddy Martin Biography

9 December 1906, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, d. 30 September 1983. After starting out on drums and C-melody saxophone, Martin switched to playing tenor saxophone. He led his own band while still at high school, then became a sideman in various local bands. After a few years, he began attracting attention for his smooth and competent musicianship. Guy Lombardo and his brothers heard and encouraged him and, in 1931, Martin formed his own band. He took the unit into a succession of engagements at prestigious hotels, including the Roosevelt Grill in New York’s Manhattan Hotel, and was heard on the radio. He made his breakthrough into popular success with an arrangement the theme from the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s B-flat piano concerto.

This was followed by other arrangements of popular classics, usually featuring the band’s current pianist - a role taken by, amongst others, Jack Fina and Barclay Allen. The Tchaikovsky piece was later re-recorded, this time with lyrics by Bobby Worth and retitled ‘Tonight We Love’, and became a hit all over again. Martin and his band appeared in a handful of films, including Stage Door Canteen (1943). Martin had a good ear for singers and at one time or another employed Helen Ward, Merv Griffin, Buddy Clark and Terry Shand. In the 50s and 60s Martin continued to perform on the radio and also appeared on television shows. Untroubled by changing musical tastes, he continued to work at major venues and was musical director for Elvis Presley’s first appearance in Las Vegas. Still in demand for hotel work, he entered the 70s with an engagement at the Ambassador in Los Angeles. Martin continued leading his band until shortly before his death in 1983.

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

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