Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

MARTERIE, Ralph

(b 24 December 1914, Accera, Italy; d 10 October 1978, Dayton OH) Trumpet, bandleader. His father was a musician with the Chicago Civic Opera; the family name was Martiri. At 17 he played theatre jobs, then with local bands; on NBC radio staff, played with Percy Faith, Paul Whiteman; after service in the U.S. Navy he had his own show on ABC; joined Mercury records staff '49, toured as dance band leader from '51, billed as 'the Caruso of the trumpet'. His first hit was an instrumental version of ballad 'Pretend' (Nat Cole had the bigger hit) with an electric guitar lead, unusual then, probably played by Tommy Tedesco (1932-97, became ace L.A. session player: see the Wrecking Crew). 'Caravan' was even bigger the same year, an uptempo treatment with the guitar introducing a new generation to the Ellington classic. 'Skokiaan' no. 3 '54 was biggest of several covers of the SOuth African tune; he had other lesser hits through '57, then less fame in the rock'n'roll era but kept working. Albums included Marvellous Marterie '59, Dancer's Choice '63, Dance Party '64.