Although I’ve known Trade Martin since he was one of most in demand session guitarists in New York, I didn’t work with him very often because he was always booked up! In addition to being an excellent musician, part of why he became so popular among producers in the 60’s and 70’s was the fact that he was constantly singing and playing in Rock and Roll Bands in the tri-state area and he not only knew how the everchanging hits on top 40 radio sounded…he knew how they were constructed.
The first time I worked with Trade, was in 1964, just before I took my first trip to London. I had become bored with the American Music scene and became enamoured of what I heard coming out of the UK. I had written a song with Ben Raleigh (“Tell Laura I Love Her”, “Wonderful, Wonderful”) and Danny Jordan (The Detergents) called, “When She Was What She Was”, which was more of a Gerry and the Pacemakers song than a song for Dion.
When I heard Chip Taylor and Al Gorgoni’s production of a song Trade wrote for Evie Sands, “Take Me For A Little While”, I was overwhelmed by his songwriting abilities which equaled his musical skills!. When we sat down to plan out my session and I played him my song and he added chords and changes I was only hearing on English hits. The tracks turned out great but I was disappointed in my own vocal. When I came back from England I put my vocal on again, this time with a pronounced English accent and sold the master to Coed records where it was released under the pseudonym Terry Boyd. This was the same label where Trade was signed, that released his classic “That Stranger Used To Be My Girl”.
Although he’s written and scored films, has been nominated for “Clios” for his work in commercials, and received praise for his productions of B.B.King, including the Grammy winning, “Live at San Quentin Album”, his passion for self-expression remains at an all time high as he continues to perform regularly and write and record on a daily basis.
When we reconnected a couple of weeks ago, I became more accutely aware of the part he and his guitar played in the hit making process of some of greatest record producers of our time including Phil Spector, Leiber and Stoller, Bert Berns, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Jerry Ross, Jerry Wexler and Burt Bacharach. I didn’t know Trade played on, “Cherry, Cherry”, By Neil Diamond, “Chapel Of Love” by the Dixie Cups, “Twist and Shout” by the Isley Brothers, as well dozens of others he casually rattled off.
As I scrambled to turn my tape recorder on, I started to ask him questions about what I thought every member of Spectropop might want to know.
AW- How did you first get together with Phil Spector?
TM- I was working at the time with Jeff and Ellie, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Phil Spector’s contractor heard about me and called me up. He said Phil wanted to meet me, so I made an appointment to see him up at Liberty records. You recorded for Liberty didn’t you?
AW- (Laughs) Yeah, briefly. That’s where I met Phil too…he was on the A+R staff.
TM- The contractor told me to bring my guitar to the meeting, so I brought my white fender guitar.
AW- Did you bring an amplifier…or did he have one?
TM- No…no ( laughs) You could hardly hear the sound, but if you listened close enough you could hear it. I didn’t know it at the time, but Phil was a guitar player himself and he studied with Barney Kessel.
AW- Phil played the guitar solo on the Drifters record, “On Broadway”
TM- Right! I caught him playin’ in the studio one day…you know a lot of jazzy stuff. I was a Jazz oriented guitar player myself.
AW- Tell me more about your meeting.
TM- I remember him sitting behind a big desk, and I was on a couch across from him. Our whole meeting wasn’t longer than 6 or 7 minutes. As I pulled out my guitar, he asked what kind of stuff I liked to play? I told him that I played in a night club, and I knew all the solos by Scotty Moore, Carl Perkins…guys like that. At that point he asked, If I knew the intro to “Maybelline” by Chuck Berry? I smiled, and started playing it. He said I’d be hearing from his contractor.
AW- Which you obviously did.
TM- I played on almost every session he did in New York. He found out that I had this D28 Martin Herringbone Dreadnaught acoustic guitar and after he heard it, he always wanted me to play it on his sessions. I specifically remember one session I played it on it, it was at Mirasound with Brooks Arthur engineering. Phil usually used 2 or 3 pianos on his dates. on this one, Carole King was on an upright piano, as I remember, Paul Griffin was on a grand piano and Jerry, Phil’s contractor, was on another.
AW- And what song was this?
TM- “He Hit Me And It Felt Like A Kiss” by the Crystals
TM- Phil wanted me to play 16th notes all the way through the track, fortunately I play the drums, so I was able keep that rythym up! I used to sit right in front of Gary Chester who played drums on most of Phil’s dates.
AW- Gary’s one of the most innovative drummers I ever worked with…you could recognize him on every record he played on!
TM- He’s the best…and what a nice guy!
AW- I’ve been to a couple of overdubbing sessions of Phils but never a tracking session. Tell me more…who were the other musicians?
TM- There was Carl Lynch on Electric Guitar, Billy Butler on another electric and percussionist, George Devins.
AW- And on bass?
TM- Bob Bushnell on electric and Russ Savakus or Dick Romoff on stand up. Phil always liked to use two basses on his tracks.
AW- I worked with all those guys, but I never knew that they were the foundation of the “Wall of Sound”…Great musicians and incredible positive vibes! I heard that once a track was done, Phil would have the musicians double it…to give it his signature sound.
TM- No…not on any sessions I’ve been on. I’ll tell you what he did though…
(To Be Continued)
Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne
The complete interview with Trade Martin will appear exclusively on Artie Wayne On The Web and Spectropop in about a month. I honestly didn’t plan to do any more interviews for a while, but after reconnecting with Trade, I realized how much of Pop history he’s been part of…and it would be a shame not to document it.
I’m going to be talking with him again on Tuesday at noon, If you have any questions you want me to ask him, about Phil Spector or any of the legends he’s worked with, you can e-mail me at email@example.com
To reach Trade Martin http://trademartinmusic.co
Thanks to Dave Monroe for sending Evie Sands performing ,”Take Me For A Little While” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZTG-5brNII
For Spectropop http://spectropop.com
To get back to Artie Wayne On The Web http://artiewayne.wordpress.com
Special thanks to Jeff Rubin for reconnecting me with Trade.