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Page history last edited by Dingo 13 years, 2 months ago

Gail Martin

 

Gail Martin is a 20th-century American rock musician commonly known as "the Rock & Roll Carole King."

 

Biography

 

Gail Martin was born Chastity Gail Martinsky on Sept. 30, 1947 in Coalinga, Calif.

 

In the early 1950s, her father, Martin Martinsky, moved the family to Tarzana, Calif., where he founded a small adult film studio in the basement of the family home. Rumors that Gail was abused sexually by one of the male actors have persisted throughout her life. However, the only evidence of pederasty at the location is a short length of grainy 8mm footage showing a pasty-skinned man with a moustache attempting a sexual act upon a tiny girl in a crudely-constructed playhouse behind a small fence. The girl's face is not visible, and the man was unable to complete the act.  Some claim that the child is, in fact, not a girl but legendary sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer wearing stilts.

 
 

Early Career

 

At the tender age of 9, Gail Martin — using her newly-adopted stage name — appeared with Shari Lewis and her puppet, Lamb Chop, in an October 1956 airing of the Captain Kangaroo television program. While details of the incident are uncertain — this was the era of live television — Martin, apparently intoxicated, claimed that the show's host, Bob Keeshan, was an alcoholic stalker, and made other comments of an explicitly sexual nature. The resulting firestorm of publicity caused problems for Lewis' career and may have delayed her own network television program, The Shari Lewis Show, until 1960. Martin and Lewis were estranged for years but later reconciled.

 

Gail's first recording was made when she was just 12 years old. In the summer of 1960, Gail saw a small ad in the back of an Archie comic soliciting "song-poems." The ad offered to turn anyone's poem into a professionally-produced song for the "modest" sum of $29.95 (approximately $135 today). She sent off her money along with a copy of a poem she had written for English class that spring and, in a few weeks, received back five single-sided 45s of her song, Why Don't You Let The Duck In Out of the Rain? She was dissatisfied with the recording though, not only because of the minimalist country-western tune the company had picked out for the song but also because the title and some lyrics were changed from her original to make it fit the tune's rhythm. She became obsessed with "correcting" the song, as she put it, and started calling every recording studio in the phone book. Eventually she found an ad for a small vanity studio, Harmony-Sunset Records in Fresno, and started badgering her parents for the studio fee. Gail's stepmother, Sandra Kolfax (who appeared in Martinsky's adult films under the names "Sandy Shorts" and "Sandy Breeze," among others), eager to win Gail's affection after the untimely loss of her mother in a poker game in La Jolla, ponied up the $149, and less than a month later Gail had a stack of 50 shiny 45s of Why Didn't Anybody Let the Duck In Out Of the Rain?. Today, most of those recordings are in the hands of collectors; the last one publicly sold went at auction at Sotheby's in 1998 for $14,750. There are no surviving copies of the original song-poem recording; Gail secretly placed them under the tires of the family DeSoto in the Harmony-Sunset parking lot when she went in for her recording session, and they were destroyed when her father backed the car out of the parking space. Incidentally, Gail maintained in the later sixties that Jimmy Webb stole her title ("Won't Anyone Let the Duck in Out of the Rain?") for the song that was later made famous by Richard Harris as MacArthur Park. There is some evidence for this, as earlier, unrecorded versions of Webb's song have the title and recurring lyric, "Someone left the duck out in the rain."

 

In her early twenties, Gail met Jim Morrison of The Doors.  A torrid affair ensued and ended badly when Morrison threw her out of his bungalow naked.  Normally, Gail would not have objected as being thrown naked was part of her stage show when singing Clothes Don't Make the Man.  But this was Schenectady in February and the snowfall had been impressive that year.  Gail beat on the windows of the bungalow, seeming to Morrison like a feral beast seeking prey.  It is alleged that he wrote the song Wild Child because of her. Rumor and innuendo also place her with Morrison in Paris on the night he died.  It was stated that she had given him the fatal drug overdose as revenge for throwing her out on that cold winter night.  However, on the night in question, Martin was performing in concert at Le Petite Mort with Marcel Marceau and the seventeen encores kept her onstage until three in the morning (also causing permanent injury to her banjo accompanist).

 

Rumor has it that Gail was partying with Janis Joplin the night she died, as well as Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain when they died. People in the rock industry began to refer to it as the "Gail Martin curse".  Any rocker who turned 27 stayed away from Gail until they reached their 28th birthday for fear that they too would join the "27 Club."

 

A year before her big break as a solo artist, Gail joined a garage rock band called The Isometric Lipstick Conspiracy in 1966, mainly as a vocalist. Though the group recorded together until 1971, Gail's involvement lasted for only one album, Psychedelic Humdinger. However, this brief association was not without controversy. Rumors began that the cut Peaceloveme contained backwards-masked instructions on bomb-building for a proto-Weather Underground group. This misunderstanding wasn't officially cleared up until 1978, when Dr. Demento (for an acid rock-themed show) discovered that the "instructions" were for a special recipe layer cake. In 2002, President George W. Bush accidentally played it backwards, heard the supposed bomb-making instructions, and declared Gail "enemy of the state," retracting it soon after on Vice President Cheney's orders.

 

"Tarzana Nights"

 

Even at this point in her career, Gail's mercurial temper and low alcohol tolerance occasionally got her into trouble. A drunken clash with Elton John at Au Petit Garage in Paris in 1971 (in which Gail loudly and repeatedly proclaimed Elton to be "a flaming queen," though she later said she had no idea he actually was homosexual) scuttled a planned collaboration between her and John's lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Taupin had penned lyrics for Tears of a Mime, which was originally planned to be the radio single for Reseda Dreams. But after the incident, Taupin paid Gail a reported $50,000 to get out of the contract. Without a replacement song to fill out Reseda Dreams and in danger of missing the label's deadline for the album, she went ahead and recorded the song anyway, improvising the now legendary wailing “oh whoa whoooah” in place of the words. The song never got any radio airplay, being unsuitable as a single. In 1975, though, Gail won an undisclosed cash settlement when Roger Waters settled out of court over her claim that the wordless vocals on Pink Floyd's Great Gig in the Sky were a ripoff of Mime. Rolling Stone ranked the song 19th on its list of “25 Saddest Rock Songs of All Time” in 1996.

 

Gail was in on the formation of Paul McCartney's post-Beatles band, Wings, in 1971. She was the inspiration for a reference in 1974's Junior's Farm that may have alluded to Watergate.

 

Not many people realize that it was Gail who first really pushed the idea of a double-live album. Almost everyone credits Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive for putting ambitious live recordings on the map, but Gail had actually recorded her own Gail Martin: Live and Barefoot in 1975, the year before Frampton did his. It was just bad luck that her producer died in a freak woodchipper accident when they were doing the post-production and mixing in the studio. She suffered a terrible lapse — as it was her own personal woodchipper — and the album was put on hold until she had a chance to get over the shock and they could find another producer. As a result, her live album came out six months after Frampton’s, and people accused her of being a hack and stealing his concept when in fact it was the other way around. Many people speculated that Frampton himself was actually present for the Poughkeepsie shows she recorded that ultimately ended up being the tracks for Gail Martin: Live and Barefoot, and that it was a backstage conversation with Gail during one of her performances that gave Frampton the idea to do his own double-live album.

 

In 1982, Gail "borrowed" the Plasmatics' gimmick of smashing a TV with a sledgehammer in concert. On a visit to her summer home months later, Wendy O. Williams of that punk band destroyed a TV the same way, which convinced Gail to drop the idea.

 

"Gail Is Dead"

 

In 1970, Big Steve Unreliable, a radio personality on a small animal-husbandry-oriented Nebraska radio station, claimed to have discovered numerous clues, supposedly planted by her assistant, Taffita "Taffy" Upton-Sinclair Lewis, which indicated that Martin had died in a sewing accident some years prior. For example, Unreliable claimed that when played backwards, upside down, and amplified with a tin can and string, Martin's 1967 single My Uncle Went to Spain featured a mysterious voice saying "needle in the eye, needle in the eye!" On the back cover of Sunshine Saturday (1968), Martin is depicted in California peasant clothing, on her back with her eyes closed, inside an open coffin while holding lupins - according to Unreliable, a posture which symbolized death in some Western cultures or post-coital bliss in Marin County. Finally, the psychedelic cover art of her 1970 album Smell the Sunset, a collage by Peter Max featuring images of hundreds of Gail's key influences, included a Christ-like figure with one tear falling down his right cheek as he snorted a braided female figure up his left nostril. Martin eventually appeared in public to quash the rumors, explaining that in fact, she'd merely taken a holiday in New Zealand and then auditioned for the keyboard position in the Grateful Dead — a gig she turned down feeling that it would interfere with her hobby of running across freeways blindfolded, as well as being riskier to her health than that hobby.

 

Substance Abuse

 

This period also saw a number of clashes between Gail and her record company. A notable example of this is the controversy over the cover of her 1981 acoustic album, Strings Attached. The cover, depicting Gail as a marionette, wasn’t the original design. The original cover had Gail tied up with some forty feet of string, with another woman in a black leather spider costume. It was replaced because the recording company felt it was too racy and the BDSM implications would cause a public outcry, but did see limited release in Cambodia and Thailand. Copies of the “spider cover” version of the album have been known to fetch upwards of $5,000 on eBay.

 

The night of Martin's induction into the Kennedy Center Honors was a memorable one. (date reference needed) After her duet of I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal, You with Tony Bennett, there wasn’t a dry seat in the house. However, later that same night she was arrested in Georgetown for driving down Wisconsin Avenue at 75 MPH with Newt Gingrich clinging to the windshield of her Jaguar.  Gingrich refused to press charges and Gail was sentenced to 30 days of home confinement and forced to create a PSA on the dangers of drinking and politicians.

 

Even after she supposedly got clean, she harmed her career by continuing to publicly make positive references to drugs. For example, she had a string of failed Southern California mayoral bids in the late '80s, on the platform of “tax incentives for gettin’ mellow.”

 

Duets and Collaborations

 

Gail appeared in 1971 at Georgetown's Cellar Door in Washington DC.  Obviously incapacitated, she spotted Margo Guryan in the audience, and verbally bullied the notoriously shy singer-songwriter on stage for a duet.  The two sang a long set, including a touching down-tempo acoustic version of Tarzana Nights that was captured, along with God Only Knows, Think of Rain and a few other songs, on a bootleg LP now greatly prized by wealthy collectors and lesbian coops.

 

She appeared later that year with Arthur Brown in a legendary concert from which no recording survives.  The two jammed on Fire for 45 minutes.  Outshining the always-incandescent Brown, Gail launched into a long solo during which she invented rap, killed it with irony, replaced it with hip-hop, then reacculturated it as reggaeton.  Remarkably, no evidence exists that she speaks a word of Spanish.

 

In 1970, Gail caught the attention of the avant-garde comedy group Firesign Theater.  All four of the group's members were awestruck by her versatile voice as well as her wildly erratic sense of humor.  She provided the voice of Bottles, Mudhead's girlfriend on Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers, as well as the Future Fair P.A. announcer on I Think We're All Bozos on This BusPhil Austin in particular was taken by her; in a recent interview, he said that Gail was the main source of inspiration for his book Beaver Teeth.

 

Gail Martin also collaborated with Pink Floyd on their groundbreaking album Meddle in 1971. She was hired to provide the electronically-altered mystery voice in the middle of One of These Days, but due to an accidental mix-up between a bottle of mouthwash and toilet bowl cleaner that morning, she was able to voice that part without any alteration at all. She also provided the high-pitched squeals in the psychedelic middle section of the title cut.

 

Between 1972 and 1976, Gail traversed the worlds of music, television, politics, and vivisection.  In 1973, at the height of Gailmania, CBS paid Gail $500,000 to star in a summer half-hour variety show with Rowan Atkinson called Rowan and Martin's Half-In.  As a summer replacement, the show was a resounding success and Gail's throwaway line of "Peaches to you, Chickadee!" became  an American catchphrase.  Yet fame was a fickle beast.  Atkinson detested Gail's popularity and in the summer of 1976 attempted to cut off her braid during a Mark Trail parody sketch in which both played beavers.  This was also the month that Gail Martin: Live and Barefoot was released.  Gail did not renew her contract for the next season.

 

In 1977, Gail starred in the short-lived The Girl With Something Extra… Minty. In the series, Martin played a young detective who purchased a pack of Wrigley chewing gum only to find that the spirit of the Pakistani grocer killed in a shootout with robbers inhabited the pack of gum he had held in his hands at the time of death. He would plead with Gail to “put him in her mouth.” Unfortunately, the program was scheduled next to Happy Days. Also, having Robbie Rist play her secretary/assistant in a aquamarine spandex unitard was disconcerting to many.  However, later that year Gail won an Emmy for Eve Plumb: Portrait of a Teen Actress.

 

During her disco period, she formed a group called Sparkkleball Stomp, which was, in Gail's words, "German Disco style" music. They only managed one single, Do the Sparkkleball Stomp, before the ill-recieved idea was dropped. Shortly thereafter (date reference needed), she appeared on The Carol Burnett Show singing a disco version of Tarzana Nights with Donna Summer and Michael Jackson. The overwhelming negative fan response to this appearance finally ended her foray into disco.

 

Gail briefly jumped on the pop-punk bandwagon in the early '80s as lead singer of Dykes on Barbituates, earning her a new generation of fans who had never heard her earlier work. The group put out only two albums, Dykes in White Satin in 1984 and Embrace the Serpent in 1985, before breaking up. One of the reasons for the end of the group (though not the most serious) was the increasing instances of disgruntled fans showing up in concert and shouting, "bar bitch!", a play on the group's name.

 

During this period, Gail recorded a single for the puffin-led group Billy and the Boingers. The single was a goof on another Boingers cut, the Gail-inclusive tune being U Stink But I'll Braid U.

 

In 1989, Gail formed the hard-rock band Deth Grab. Just as ill-fated as the disco group, they were best known for a disasterous SNL appearance where Gail's behavior got her banned from the show by producer Lorne Michaels. She even out-badassed host Chevy Chase, who almost seriously hurt Jon Lovitz that same week.

 

Her late-'90s foray into ambient music, with a "trip-hop" influence, fared no better that Deth Grab. She joined new act Peasoup Pizza, and paid tribute to the Clinton scandals with Lewinsky Tango, but decided to return to more familiar ground and left the group.

 

Galt!

 

Galt!, the Broadway musical based on Ayn Rand's objectivist manifesto Atlas Shrugged, was an ill-conceived venture from the start. It was necessary to divide the magnum-opus over nine performances (surpassing Wagner’s Ring Cycle), four of which alone were John Galt’s radio address solo. Gail Martin was just not prepared for the demanding role of Dagny. And she was not at all happy playing the love scenes with Ricardo Montalban (whom she thought was too old) as Francisco, after having fiercely lobbied for the casting of newcomer Lorenzo Lamas in the role.

 

Casting Meat Loaf in the title role of John Galt was tantamount to signing his death warrant. The Jim Steinman treatment was so bombastic that it took Mr. Loaf six weeks of R&R to recover from his performance in the show’s premiere (which was also its swan-song). The critics' reviews were mixed, but by the end of the ninth and final installment, the remaining audience consisted of only Nathaniel Branden and Alan Greenspan. They gave a standing ovation.

 

Tragically, there was only one master cut made of the original cast album. The Department of Energy exerted great pressure on the producers to not release the album commercially, for fear that the amount of vinyl required to produce commercial quantities of the massive boxed-set would trigger another oil shortage. It has been long-rumored that those master discs are in the possession of Gail Martin, and that they may be released to the public 25 years after her death.

 

The Comeback

 

Gail's career has recovered during the first years of the 21st century.  After successfully suing Vicki Lawrence over the rights to and ownership of a sex video the two women made on Barbados during the faux millenium in 2000, Gail began singing in small clubs throughout the southwestern United States predominately performing for local university students who found her music on illegal file sharing sites. However, the road back has not been entirely smooth. One almost legendary bump came (date citation needed) when she sang the national anthem at a baseball game in North Dakota while backed by Mini-Kiss, the Kiss tribute band comprised entirely of midgets. The ensuing riot led to much injury and loss of dignity.

 

In recent years, Gail seems to have turned her life around. In 2006, Gail was in Milford, Mich., for a publicity interview when she was invited to speak to a class of visually impaired students in Detroit. She spent the day with the class, teaching them how to play guitar, braiding the girls’ hair and telling stories about how she was inspired to write Tarzana Nights (the G-rated version). She even had special Braille T-shirts made up (which didn’t really work, because the Braille letters weren’t raised, so the kids couldn’t read them, but the students appreciated the thought.

 

In mid-2007, Gail began to tour again with her 30 years of one-night stands series of events.  Tovah Feldshuh and Ernest Borgnine served as the opening act, with Borgnine throwing yams at Feldshuh's breasts while reciting from The Great Gatsby.

 

 

Litigation

 

Martin v. Floyd

 

Gail Martin successfully obtained an undisclosed cash settlement from Pink Floyd, claiming that The Great Gig in the Sky was actually stolen from her single Tears of a Mime which appeared on the poorly selling album Reseda Dreams. Tears of a Mime, like Great Gig featured ethereal melodic screaming. Pink Floyd settled the case when Martin's lawyer's discovered that Dark Side of the Moon had stolen not merely the concept of using screaming as the primary vocals, but of synching an album to a movie — The Wizard of Oz in Pink Floyd's case, Dutch porn in Martin's.

 

Martin v. Martin

 

Gail Martin was sued by Steve Martin over the rights to appear on stage with a piece of comic head-gear that made it appear as though her head had been skewered by a horizontal braid. Steve Martin prevailed in a jury trial, and Gail Martin abandoned her appeal rather than face the spectacle of a written published opinion describing her affair with Martin Short, a fact that Steve Martin's lawyers repeatedly emphasized during the trial. Steve Martin never used the gag, describing the matter as "a question of principle."

 

Discography and Appearances

 

Albums

  • Psychedelic Humdinger (Vocalist, The Isometric Lipstick Conspiracy)(1966)
    • "Peaceloveme"
  • Crushed Strawberries of the Broken Heart (1967)
    • "My Uncle Went to Spain"
    • "Alky-Day"
  • Sunshine Saturday (1968)
    • "Soldier Blues"
  • Tarzana Nights (1968)
    • "Tarzana Nights"
    • "I Love A Sailor"
    • "Right is Wrong"
  • Smell the Sunshine (1970)
    • "The Big, Yellow, Fat Cat"
    • "Daddy's Little Dancer"
    • "Please Mr. Driver"
  • Reseda Dreams (1971)
    • "Tears of a Mime"
    • "Reseda Evenings"
  • Tarzana Nights II: The Morning After the Evening (1974)
    • "Will You Be There (The Mists of Eternity)"
    • "Braided, Not Faded"
    • "Noble Brave"
  • Martinique (1975)
    • "Missassauga Weekends"
    • "Condo of Love"
  • Gail Martin: Live and Barefoot (1977) (double live album)
  • Braid (1979)
    • "(I'm) Foxy"
  • Strings Attached (1981)
    • "Swing Me, Sally"
    • "Ode to Billy Joe" (Bobbie Gentry cover)
  • Dykes in White Satin (as lead singer of Dykes On Barbituates) (1984)
    • "Three Women"
    • "No One Here Gets Out Alive"
    • "Get Fuzzy"
  • Embrace the Serpent (Dykes on Barbituates) (1985)
    • "Menace to Love"
  • Xtabay Nights
  • I Sing the Body Tarzana (released in Europe as Peter Frampton is a Poopy Head) (1999)
  • 62.18

 

Singles

  • "Why Didn't Anybody Let The Duck In Out of the Rain?" (1960)
  • "Tarzana Nights" (1968)
  • "My Uncle Went to Spain" (1967)
  • "Alky-Day" (1967)
  • "Missassauga Weekends"
  • "If They Tore Down Drucker's General Store (I'd Still Be In Love With You)"
  • "Pedestrian Hangover" (1973)
  • "Do the Sparkkleball Stomp" (Sparkkleball Stomp) (1978)
  • "Unemployed Werewolf" (1982)
  • "U Stink But I'll Braid U" (Billy and the Boingers) (1984)
  • "Deth Grab 4 Ugly" (Deth Grab) (1989)
  • "Lewinsky Tango" (Peasoup Pizza) (1998)

 

Other Recordings

  • Spoken-word album with Jello Biafra (date reference needed)
  • "Tarzana-Rama!" exercise video (1978). This was the inspiration for Todd Rundgren's mega-hit, "Swing That Braid!"
  • "Exposure" (vocals) (Bob Fripp and Phil Collins, 1979)
  • The Three Tenors and Gail (date reference needed)
  • Galt!: Original Broadway Cast Album (unreleased)
  • Tap the Rutles (aka Isometric Rutles) (bootleg, 1985)
  • Another Cog in the Braid (1987) (with Kraftwerk)
  • "Tarzana Knights"
  • "Purple Rain," cover performed for album "Purple: A Tribute to Prince" (1999)

 

TV, Radio, Movie, and Concert Appearances

  • Captain Kangaroo (with Shari Lewis) October, 1956
  • Woodstock Music Festival (1969)
  • Altamont Free Concert (1969)* (scheduled appearance with The Grateful Dead canceled)
  • Comix Aid (1972) (benefit concert, Stockholm)
  • Colonel Sun (Bond film) (1972) (as Bond girl Aridne Alexandrou)
  • Per Fine Ounce (Bond film, a.k.a. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in the UK) (1973) (as villainess Ilsa Bounce)
  • Match Game (with Charles Nelson Reilly) December, 1973
  • Rowan & Martin's Half-In (1972-1976)
  • Don Kirshner's Rock Concert (1975)
  • The King Biscuit Flower Hour (1975, 1976 and 1979)
  • The Girl with Something Extra... Minty (1977)
  • Singing with the Whales (1977) with Jacques Cousteau
  • Der Ring des Nibelungen (Berlin, 1980) as Erda
  • The Muppet Show (Appeared as a Cast Member Until Replaced by Janice) 1980-1981
  • Solid Gold (Special guest host 1981)
  • Hee-Haw (guest appearance, 1981)
  • Late Night with David Letterman (guest appearance, 1982)
  • Galt!: Original Broadway Cast
  • Gail's Garden of Good Times (fall 1985)
  • Live Aid (1985; appeared both at Wembley Stadium and JFK Stadium venues)
  • Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon (1986)
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (uncredited cameo) (1986)
  • Thorpstock '87
  • Saturday Night Live (host: Chevy Chase. music: Deth Grab) (1989)
  • MTV: Unplugged
  • Lou Rawls' Parade of Stars (1994)
  • The Simpsons (voice only) Kelrast, "Homer Phones Home" 1995
  • Zoolander (uncredited cameo) (2001)
  • Wrestlemania XX, gimmick match v. Trish Stratus and guest valet
  • We Are the Whirled pig roast for Sigma Eta Epsilon

 

Influences

 

 

 

Gail Martin influenced — and continues to influence — many artists from Georgia O'Keefe to Leroy Neiman and Siegfrid & RoyPatrick Nagel was a devoted fan of Ms. Martin and created an image of her in conjunction with her appearance in The Mikado on Canadian television.  However, after Ms. Martin was unable to appear due to a suspicious altercation with Linda Ronstadt in a local Tim Horton's, Nagel reworked the image to that of an anonymous woman and not his muse.

 

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