The Motels Biography

Formed in Berkeley, California, in the early 70s, the early line-up of the Motels, originally known as the Warfield Foxes, comprised Martha Davis (15 January 1951, Berkeley, California, USA; vocals), Dean Chamberlain (guitar), Robert Newman (drums) and Richard D’Andrea (bass). Relocating to Los Angeles, the band recorded a demo tape for Warner Brothers Records in 1975, but internal disagreements led to their break up. A new line-up, comprising Jeff Jourard (guitar), his brother Martin (keyboards, saxophone), Michael Goodroe (bass) and UK session drummer Brian Glascock (ex-Toe Fat), assembled for appearances at Hollywood’s Whiskey club throughout July 1978, attracting a modicum of music industry interest in the process. In 1979, their stunning debut album was issued by Capitol Records. Like its remaining tracks, the hit ballad ‘Total Control’ was produced by John Carter and composed by central figure Davis, whose eclectic tastes included blues, Broadway musicals and Stravinsky. Her onstage presence was ‘exceptionally charismatic’, wrote The Los Angeles Times, wrongly predicting that she ‘could become one of the most influential female performers in rock’. Her boyfriend, Tim McGovern, replaced Jeff Jourard during sessions for Careful, with a sleeve adorned with a print of a Dougie Fields painting.

Though the singles, ‘Whose Problem?’ and ‘Days Are O.K.’, flitted into the US and UK charts, they fared well in regional charts in Australasia, a territory where the band made its strongest impact. Their albums and tie-in singles tended to hover around the lower half of the UK Top 40 after All Four One, at number 16, marked the Motels’ commercial zenith. Guy Perry replaced McGovern on guitar shortly before the release of the album, which had to be re-recorded after Capitol had rejected the original tapes. In their homeland they enjoyed two Top 10 hits with ‘Only The Lonely’ (1982) and ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ (1983). Little Robbers utilised session drummer David Platshon, with Glascock relegated to percussion, but promotion of the album was put on hold while Davis recovered from a cancer scare. Following one further album, Davis announced the end of the Motels in early 1987. She embarked on an abortive solo career, and later worked as a songwriter. She established a new line-up of the Motels in 1998.

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

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