January 11, 2001
Moon Martins Music Moves Muncy Man
By John J. Blair - Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Surveys show that the Internet has brought people together in special ways.
Moon Martin and The Ravens, 1979, from left, are: Jude Cole, Moon Martin, Rick Croy and Dennis Croy.
Before the friendship began, Balliet
was researching some of his favorite classic rock bands of the
70s. He says, It started when I was checking out a
website on Klaatu, referring to the Canadian group made
famous as ersatz Beatles. Later he did a search for Moon Martin
and found nothing, so Balliet decided to build a site for this
Balliet is a father of three and a home health care provider with Community Service Alternatives in Williamsport. He relates, When I first started this website, I did not have much as far as content. I was able to obtain some pictures and articles through eBay, and just kept gradually adding to it. He sought technical aid from Dan Whitfield, a webdesigner in the state of Indiana. Together they made what Balliet calls a pretty nice website.
One day Balliet received a package. He was surprised at the return address.
It was from Moon himself, Balliet exclaims, Inside was a very nice thank-you letter and his latest CD. He came across my website and was very grateful that someone would do something like that for him.
Once he knew the artist was watching, Balliet overhauled and updated the site. In August he received a phone call from Martin. Balliet recalls, When I heard the words, Hello, this is Moon Martin, I nearly dropped the phone! We had a nice chat and Moon invited me to come down to interview him for my website. He also gave me permission to call my site the official one, something only the artist can declare. My sites address became, www.moonmartin.com.
In November, Balliet flew to Nashville. He spent a couple of days at Martins home and in the adjoining Ponyboy Studios. Balliet admits, I was quite nervous, but when we met it was as if we had known each other for years. He was a most gracious host, and we taped the interview in his studio. He promises the lengthy interview will be available on the website soon.
Picture of Moon and I . . . Moon Martin and Ron Balliet at Martins studio in Nashville.
|Balliet obtained rare photos and articles for the site. He says, Moon is a classic example of an artist not being stuck on himself. He had boxes of memorabilia and told me to throw them in my suitcase and take them home. When I started this website, never did I think that this is what would become of it. It has been a very exciting experience for me.|
John David Martin became known as
Moon because of his knack for using the word
moon in many of his songs. He entered the recording
business through Southwind, participating in the country rock
boom of late 60s Los Angeles.
Southwind released three albums and toured with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers while Martin moonlighted as a pick-up guitarist for Jackie DeShannon and Del Shannon.
Southwind disbanded and Martin kept working in the studio, leading to a pivotal session for Linda Ronstadt. During this project, fellow sessionman Glenn Frey asked Martin if hed like to join a band Frey was forming. Martin turned down the offer because he wanted to make his own music. The band Frey put together later became known as The Eagles, but Martin has little regret about this decision, claiming hes satisfied with the way things panned out.
Shots From a Cold Nightmare (1978) was Martins major label breakthrough.
It included his now-signature Bad Case of Lovin You. The album received positive reviews while he became a sensation in Europe, where his popularity has never waned. The next album, Escape from Domination (1979), unleashed a Top 40 hit, Rolene, empowered by his back-up band The Ravens (rotating members of Blondie, The Records and The Dwight Twilley Band).
Sometimes referred to as a punk-looking John Denver, the bespectacled blonde Martin was an unlikely pop star. He toured internationally with Blondie, Joe Jackson, The Kinks, The Police and Rockpile-a range of acts reflecting a range of versatility. Music industry marketing gurus interchanged labels for Martin, calling him new wave, power pop, rock and rockabilly.
Balliet says Martins music is just plain fun to listen to. He combines Chuck Berry riffs with Buddy Holly-styled lyrics and singing and gives them a (modern) sound. Martin himself cites Holly as one of his idols. One critic described the Martin pathos as driving-down-the-highway-with-the-top-down music.
The Martin signature resounds in Cadillac Walk, the hit he wrote for retro-soul crooner Mink DeVille (the song was handed to DeVille by legendary producer Jack Nietzsche, whod taken a shine to Martins catalogue). Other artists whove covered Martin material include Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Bette Midler, Michelle Phillips and Paul Rodgers (Bad Company).
On Martins third album, Street Fever (1980), former Williamsport resident, Jeff Fargus, performed on keyboards. Balliet adds, Jeff told Moon about the annual Little League World Series in Williamsport. Martin may attend the 2001 series as a guest of Balliet.
Fargus also appeared on Martins Mystery Ticket (1982). It was co-produced by one of Martins biggest fans, Palmer, who strived for a radio-friendly sheen. Palmer added synthesizers and the project was enlarged by a diverse support crew (including Asia/King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield). It was Martins last major label effort.
Martin continued to tour Europe and release music independently throughout the 90s. His latest is Louisiana Jukebox. According to Balliet it has some great music, including a Brian Setzer-styled song called Get Hot (Or Go Home). Voodoo River, has a Creedence Clearwater Revival sound to it. Dont Blame the Rain is a ballad which would have fit nicely in a Roy Orbison concert.
Martins music is available locally at Rockstation or by going to the website. Balliet invites everyone to visit the website and learn more about Martin, adding, Be sure to sign the guestbook.