Marty Thompson

NOTE: This first-person account of Marty's career, the venues and players he worked with, is an interesting insight into the history of Baltimore music.

I began singing in public at the age of 15. often at the Arbutus teen center sitting in with the Van Dykes.

I hired on with Joey Welz and the Rockabillies, with Lou Hinkle on drums and Charlie Shriner on guitar, to sing with them at teen centers throughout Baltimore. That gig led me to Little Jimmy and the Tops where we performed at the old Royal Theater with headliners like Jackie Wilson, The Five Keys, Ruth Brown and others.

In 1959, I began singing with the Galaxies with Lou Hinkle on drums, Gary Loomis on tenor sax, Charlie Shriner on bass, Wayne Grim on guitar and Nick Margaritas on piano. From there at 16 I was with the Del Vinos with Vince Corolla on piano, Buddy DeVilbis on guitar, Stu Wertz on bass, and Ron Schmidt on drums.   That band desolved and I joined the Arcades-Gary Daderio on guitar, Mark Tiernan on piano, Ron Schmidt on drums and Stu Wertz on bass-to enter the Buddy Dean battle of the bands contest in 1958. We came in 2nd behind the Flintstones out of approximately 75 local bands.

Shortly thereafter, Gary Loomis introduced me to The Combonaires-Joe Wojtysiak on piano, Sal Danna on drums, Charlie Pritz on Alto Sax, Tim Nadrowski on Tenor sax, John Moscato on guitar, Ray Kmoch on bass, Gary Loomis on Tenor sax and me on vocals. We played teen centers and cyo’s all over the Maryland area.

Frank Adams of the Crystals called me to replace singer Al Hoffman, who had just left to put together the Esquires. I began singing with the Crystals 4 nights a week in 1960 at the old Surf Club on Pulaski Hwy-Al Rossi on Tenor Sax, Joe Pente on keyboards, Kenny Hanlon on trombone, Artie Kay on drums and Frank Adams on guitar. The Crystals. I was in my Johnny Mathis era, and did all of his hits with the group. We played Bitner’s Lounge on Fayette St. , DiMitri’s on Belair Rd., The Old Mill Inn in Turner Station, The Surf Club and the Rapsody Club, where we played opposite The Upsetters, the Gliders with Peaches and the great Van Dykes. Kenny Hanlon took a job teaching in Las Vegas so enter tenor saxophonist Dominic Mezzanotti, alias Mickey and then drummer Danny Sapanero replaced Artie Kay.

Marty Thompson

Marty's recordings on the Sir Ben label:

After about two years, the Crystals desolved, I was 21 and was thinking about a different direction. I joined the Highlights with Tony Diantonio, a great tenor sax player, Tony Bravo on keyboards, and I can’t remember who else was in that band, but soon enter Mike Carrick on tenor sax, Wayne Hudson on drums, George Maxwell on keys. After the band re-formed, we played at the Surf Club and soon broke up. It was then that I joined Mike Carrick, Wayne Hudson and Hal Steich at Les Gals on Mt. Royal Ave. to play behind the strippers. I’d be singing a pretty ballad and some guy would yell out, “ bring on the broads ” Ha! There, I had the esteem pleasure of working along side of the Dizzy Gillespie quartet with James Moody on Tenor Sax and Candy Finch on drums. The bass payer’s name evades me. I was about 23 and singing in the presence of Dizzy Gillespie. That gig lasted maybe 4 months at four nights per week.

I was contacted by Mike Athas and George Mahalis and ended up singing at the Club Venus with the Admirals, downstairs as the dance band between the big shows. The Admirals left the Venus after about five months and I took over the Master of Ceremony position from Admirals bassist, Tom Barry. Eventually, I began singing with the Harry Grey Orchestra. Harry’s union musicians played the shows each night and they were a fine bunch of readers. The names I remember were Wayne Hudson on drums, Bob Barrett on trumpet, Clemie Delfonso on tenor sax, Paul Dejulius on alto sax, Harry Kakoros (Paul’s brother) on trombone and Harry Grey on piano. It was a great time and I got to see and sometimes share the stage with the likes of the Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The 5 th Dimension, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Pattie LaBelle, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, The real Platters and the real Drifters etc. etc. etc. at least 2 shows per night, six nights per week and 3 or 4 club dates each. I had the pleasure of working in the Viva Burlesque show featuring Mamie Van Doran which ran 17 consecutive nights at two shows per night at the Club Venus.

After 2 years at Club Venus, I joined up with Ben Macks and Dave Hutchinson and immediately landed a gig at the old Mardi Gras Restaurant. Ben and Dave booked me as a floor show at the Golden Horn with Teddy Bell, Dottie Tim and Billy Mohicka backing me. Not long thereafter I wrote the two songs I recorded, What Am I Gonna’ Do and Whirlpool. About three months later we recorded both at A&R Studios in NY. What Am I Gonna’ Do sold around 16,000 45’s as I was told, playing on 6 local FM stations and in Philadelphia and NY. I sang on the Joe Franklin show in NY and the Kirby Scott show here in Baltimore. It came to an end over a moral issue with the management, and I walked away from my contract.

Hal Marquis asked me if I wanted to sing with a NY band called Near Future. I agreed and we played clubs like Joe Hanna’s on Staten Island, The Cloud room on Long Island, Barney Google’s on 86th St. and many other NY clubs. Members who I can remember were John Lydell on drums, Nick Moshey on guitar, Calvin Dukes on keys and I can’t recall the bass players name. I sang with them for about 5 or 6 months and then came back to Baltimore.

After that, I sang for awhile with the Mickey McCleary Trio at the Golden 40 Inn and at the Green Dolphin. We had Al Rossi on Tenor Sax, Frank Taylor on drums, then drummer Tommy Baker and then drummer Nick Campo. That group lasted about 8 months and then the owner John Sakalis of the Golden 40 hired Dryed Ice to play and hired me to sing with Dryed Ice. They had Tony Montone on B3 Hammond organ, John Armeda on bass, Bobby Jay on guitar and Tommy Jay on drums. After about 3 months they left the Golden 40 and we started US Male with Mickey McCleary and Bobby Burns. One of our first gigs was in Albany NY at Schenectady Circle at the Thunderbird lounge. We played there 6 weeks and came back to Baltimore. The group broke up and I hired a band from Aberdeen Md. called Mood Unit. We played at the Golden 40 for several weeks and then we went to the San Carlos Restaurant in York Pa. We came back to the 40 after that and finally put US Male together with Benny Celito on B3, Bobby Burns on guitar and Nick Campo on drums. Another month later and we opened at the downtown Playboy Club and stayed there for 9 months. We then played Sweeny’s, The Holiday Inn Circuit, Anna Bell’s, Cherry Hill NJ., Richmond VA., the Jester Club, and back and forth to the Playboy club until we broke up two years later at the Kimberly lounge in Dundalk.

I went immediately into Roadhouse Review with Gene Braken on keys, John Glorioso on bass, Wilkie Zook on drums, Walt Anderson on guitar and Mike Jones and I on vocals. We played the Northwood Lounge in Salsbury Md. , The Loft in Waldorf Md., Bojangles in Brooklyn, Cape Cod and several other cities. We were booked by the Barry Rick agency. Eventually, Mike Jones left and so did Gene Braken. We hired Bill Manning to play keys and sing with Wilkie and I. This was when disco first appeared and so we immediately capitalized.

After Roadhouse disbanded I joined with Lou Carfizzi on keyboards, Wayne Petrush on guitar, Mike Stevens on bass, and John Glime on drums in a group called Harbor City. We played the Ramada Inn circuit in Woodlawn to Dover Delaware. We played Burbon St. in Williamsport Pa. , The Red Rooster, Hollywood Palace,The Redwood Inn in Aberdeen, The Hanger Club in Waldorf etc. Eventually after singing 6 nights a week and close to 35 songs per night, many times in high keys, my voice started to get tired and we hired a very talented Laneer Christian to sing with me and Jimmy Johnston to play guitar. I eventually had to take off to rest my voice and the band broke up.

After taking a month or so off I joined with Benny Cellito (keyboards), CB Carper (bass), drummer Mark Thompson, Guitarist David Fultz and singer Marty Lanzino in a band called Hot Property. We played clubs like the Redwood Inn in Aberdeen Md., Johnny Walker’s in Glen Burnie, The Capricorn in Balto., The Golden Horn, Ventuno’s in DC., The Rabbit Foot Two in Frederick, The Loft in Hagerstown, Bourbon St. in Williamsport. Eventually, Marty Lanzino left and Dave Gable joined us on vocals. The band rolled along for a while. We hired Danny Sapanero on drums and Teddy Bell on Sax for the next four months and we finally broke up on New Years Eve. 1976.

After another much-needed rest I was playing again with David Fultz, a young singer named Jane Powell, a fine singing drummer in Lenny August, Julius Fisher on keys and Todd on bass (I can’t remember Todd’s last name). We called the band Diamond Gear. We hired Michael Schuto on keyboards to replace Julius. He was quite a talent. Then Todd left and we hired Dennis Dayhoff on bass and I took over on keys. At 37 I was through with working 6 nights per week, week after week, and so I eventually bowed out and took a day gig.

I worked with a trio called Three for a Dollar for awhile. Working the day gig and missing music, I evetually bought an Ensoniq Mirage keyboard, a four track recorder , a drum synthesizer and a PA system and booked myself at yacht clubs, etc. as Marty Thompson’s One Man Band. That keyboard was a wonderful instrument that could duplicate any sound and work was good, but I had also started my current business and I was getting too busy to play and sing anymore, so I eventually gave it up.

A Baltimore collector recently informed me that he sold my old record on Ebay for $113.00 to someone in the UK, where they call my musical style northern soul. I thought that was amazing, and that prompted me to get to thinking, and now writing down, the history of my long and enjoyable music career.

— Marty Thompson



Marty Thompson - with Diamond Gear

Marty Thompson - studio shot

Marty Thompson - another studio shot

Marty with U.S. Male
L to R: Bobby Burns, Benny Cellito, Nick Campo, Marty Thompson (seated)

Diamond Gear 1
L to R: Jane Powell (vocal), Lenny August (drums), Marty Thompson (vocal)

Diamond Gear 2
L to R:Jane Powell (vocal), Marty Thompson (vocal), David Fultz (guitar)

Diamond Gear 3
L to R:Julius Fisher (keys), Jane Powell (vocal), Marty Thompson (vocal)

Encouragement from Della Reese

Ad for appearance at the Golden Horn

Ad for Mardi Gras appearance.


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