© 2024 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Marty Roberts of Los Angeles lounge duo Marty & Elayne is dead at 89


The jazz and lounge music world has lost one of its most iconic personalities. Marty Roberts, one half of the married lounge act Marty & Elayne, died last week at 89.


For decades, the duo performed five or six nights a week, Marty on drums and vocals, Elayne on piano and flute.


MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) You can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a woman's man - no time to talk.

KELLY: They were fixtures at the Los Angeles bar and restaurant the Dresden Room, where they played an eclectic mix of jazz standards, original numbers and their own twists on pop hits.


MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Staying alive - ah, ah, ah, ah, staying alive.

CHANG: That rendition of "Stayin' Alive," a cameo in the 1996 movie "Swingers," shot them into pop culture stardom. Their daughter, Hali Gillin, says the duo often drew standing-room-only crowds.

HALI GILLIN: They have fans in probably every country. And they would come to America, and that would be one of the stops that they needed to make.

CHANG: And though they may have come for the music, the fans would get plenty of personality, too.

GILLIN: If you were rude and talked a lot while my mom was playing certain songs, she would turn up the synthesizer and teach you that's not polite (laughter). And my dad - if you talked too much, he would literally get on the mic and say, hey; you don't have a speaking part in this.

KELLY: Gillin says that frankness was on full display when her mother first met Roberts back in 1970.

GILLIN: My dad - he was a hairdresser before. And so he looked at my mom and basically said, like, I need to trim your hair. Like, you got some split ends (laughter). My mom was like, how rude. But eventually they got past it. And my mom said she knew right when she met him that she was going to marry him.

KELLY: And she did. They married just four months later.


MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Come on and fly with me. Let's fly. Let's fly away.

CHANG: Through the decades, the pair has had their share of famous fans. When Frank Sinatra showed up to see them play, Roberts serenaded Sinatra with one of the legend's own tunes.

KELLY: Marty & Elayne continued to record together until just about a month ago. Marty Roberts died of cancer last Thursday. He was 89 years old.


MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Come fly with me. Let's fly. Let's fly away. (Scatting). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jason Fuller
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.
KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.