SCOTT MARTIN is a musician who worked with Lynda Carter during her presentations as a singer back in 1982. Here he shares some of his memories with WONDERLAND.
Q: What is your musical background?
Scott: Well, I moved to LA in 1980 from the northwest. I’m a native of the northwest and I went to school in Oregon and Washington. I had started writing songs and singing in high school, and before that I had played french horn and clarinet in the band and orchestra since I was 7 years old, I was always really musical. While I was in college, I starting performing my own material at the coffee houses, you know, the coffee house scene in the late 70’s was in full bloom. It was a really fun time, and you were really popular on a college campus if you could play James Taylor songs, or Jackson Brown! I also threw in a lot of my own material, a lot of it, and I figured that popularity would easily translate into a record deal in Los Angeles. Of course that wasn’t necessarily the case, but it didn’t deter me from making a move to LA in 1980. As a songwriter I had some close calls with success, I brushed up against it as often as I could without having it rub off on me! I had some songs got published or were placed on other people’s albums. There was a song called “Ariana” that was on the “Kazi Matsui Project” in 1984 that probably very few people had ever heard of, it got played in lots of R&B and jazz markets in the US.
Q: How did you come to work with Lynda?
Scott: I had lived in Los Angeles for two years and was a member of the band “Main Sail”. We were performing at a place called “Jason’s” at Toluca Lake, and there was a keyboard player that used to play with us who had worked with Johnny Harris, Lynda’s musical director. Lynda was looking for a self-contained rhythm section rather than a bunch of “hired guns” that were studio players, which is what she had used previously. There were three of us that sang and played, all guys, and there was a drummer, and she hired the four of us. She already had a pianist, an accompanist that was playing with her named Andy Michelin. So she hired the four of us–there was me, bass player/vocalist Joe Bierek, lead guitarist/vocalist was Kendall Lee, and the drummer Rich Sumner. We were given some tapes of Lynda’s material that we learned over a week or two, then we went to a rehearsal studio in North Hollywood called “The Alley” to audition, and met Lynda for the first time, which you know was a thrill! I hadn’t met a lot of celebrities, even though I had lived in Hollywood for two years. She was fun to meet without a doubt, she was always such a pleasure to be around, and was so friendly. So we went to “The Alley” and we negotiated a contract, and we rehearsed for…seems like a couple of weeks at least, before we headed out to Las Vegas. That was in the summer of 1982. We played in a double bill with Rich Little at the old MGM Grand Hotel, which is now another hotel entirely. But that was great fun. The four of us found working for Lynda such a welcome respite from the grind that we had done in LA, you know, playing a gig for $50 bucks a night in a smoky bar with everyone drinking “Kamikazis”! Going from that to playing in a beautiful room at the MGM Grand, with great lighting and sound was wonderful. Johnny put on such a great show, and Lynda had wonderful sound and lighting folks rounding out the crew. We had a great time working late at night, then hanging out at the pool in the afternoon.
Q: What was your role in the stage band?
Scott: When she hired the ensemble “Main Sail”, I played rhythm acoustic and electric guitar, and sang background and lead vocals. Kendall and Joe also sang background vocals, and sometimes lead vocals. When we performed by ourselves, we did original material, mostly mine, so I mostly sang lead vocals, but we were a band that also often closed out our shows with the “B” side of “Abbey Road”. Everybody would sing parts of that. But when we worked for Lynda, we all sang background vocals, and occasionally I would sing a lead vocal. At one part in the show, I remember when we were at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas with the Smothers Brothers, part of the act included “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers, and I sang the lead vocals when she was doing a costume change. She was not on stage at that point, and I sang a lead to give Lynda a break to change costumes.
Q: Between her television specials from 1981 onwards, where did the show go?
Scott: The places I remember that we performed with Lynda, let’s see… in 1982 there was the MGM Grand in Las Vegas… that summer we also did the New York, Long Island theatre in the round that was very similar to the Valley Forge Music Fair. We also went to the Chicago area and performed at the Rockford Performance Center. That was big place. I had been performing for many years, and that was in the center of a basketball arena! It was a pretty place and it was brand new, and it was full of people. I think it held 10 or 12 thousand folks, and Lynda was opening for Bob Hope. I remember getting introduced onstage, and doing a little solo like we all did, and I remember my adrenaline was pumping and I was shaky. But it was really fun. Then we went to Valley Forge, and then Atlantic City.
Q: How many years did you perform with Lynda?
Scott: Well, 1982 was when it started, and then it might have been as late as 1985-86. There were a couple of summers when we did isolated dates, I remember when we went to Reno and performed at Harrah’s, then we did Tahoe one summer. There’s a funny story I can tell about that. I was a rock-climber, and my wife and I made the mistake of going to a place called “Lover’s Leap” which is right near Tahoe, about 30 minutes away, and we had gone out one morning to go climbing and I had a show that night. I basically misjudged how long it was going to take, and in the late afternoon I suddenly realized that we weren’t going to make the top of the climb in time, so we had to rappel off the cliff several times to get down, then get back to the car and race back to Tahoe. I threw on my tux and walked onstage with my guitar and got in front of the microphone just in time as Johnny started the show! I got a lot of dirty looks from the band, because everyone was either worried that I was dead, or was going to get fired, or both. But anyway, as far as the last gig that we did, I would have to compare notes with Joe, Kendall and Rich.
Q: Did you ever go overseas to perform?
Scott: Yes, we went to the Philippines and Monte Carlo in 1983. I remember that Lynda performed in the Philippines over New Year at a brand new performing arts center that had been built by Imelda Marcos, and we performed there and we stayed at the Manila Hotel, which was a remarkable place. McArthur had had his headquarters in the hotel. One thing that I remember about Manila was that over New Years’ is that they set off fireworks and grenades at night, and it was dangerous walking through the park. Several people were killed or injured by grenades, but it was a fascinating trip.
Q: How was she received in both of those countries? Was the audience reception good?
Scott: It’s funny, the reception in the Philippines was overwhelming, they were just wild about having Lynda there. At that point and time, with the way world politics were, Americans were always looked on favorably by the average person in the Philippines, even though that was the beginning of some questionable times for the Marcos Regime. Lynda was extremely well received in Manila, no doubt about it. Now, Monte Carlo was another story, and I think it wasn’t Lynda specifically, but it was the weirdest crowd to play for in Monte Carlo. Almost nothing elicited much of a response. I mean, it wasn’t as if they didn’t applaud, but they were reserved and almost….cold! But I was told backstage by people that that’s how they were to virtually everyone. It was a kind of a private club that prominent Monte Carlans, if that’s what you call them, belonged to. It was a beautiful place, right on the ocean, and the stage was in the round, actually semi-circular, with the ocean behind, and at the end of the show, they pulled the roof back and shot fireworks in the sky over the audience. That was not a terribly friendly venue, but Monte Carlo in general was a very friendly place to go. It was a beautiful place to spend your time during the afternoon, with the beautiful blue water that was so clear you could see the bottom.
Q: When you went to Monte Carlo, was that when Robert Altman proposed to Lynda?
Scott: Well, when we went to Monte Carlo, Lynda was no longer with Ron Samuels, and I don’t think that she had met Robert yet. I forgot to mention to you – when Lynda hired us I negotiated with Ron Samuels for our contract. I didn’t know at the time, but that was near the end of their relationship. When we went to Monte Carlo, which I can’t remember if that was in 1982 or 1983, I am quite sure that she wasn’t with Ron anymore. I don’t think that she had met Robert yet, however, I’m pretty sure of that. I remember Robert coming to Atlantic City to either the Sands, or Harrah’s Marina or the Trump Plaza. I think that the first time I met Robert was in Atlantic City. I remember liking Robert a whole lot, he was then, and I’m sure still is, an approachable, fun guy to be around.
Q: Can you remember any times when things went wrong during the act?
Scott: Well, Lynda’s show was very scripted. In comparing her to other performers I had worked with, and had a friend who worked with, like, Suzanne Somers, everybody knows that Lynda is not a comedian, she’s a singer. And comedians have it over all of us, as you know, when funny or unexpected things happen during their acts, they laugh it off. And though no fault of Lynda, there were some times when she got in trouble because of the pre-recorded supplementary music. I can remember a good example that illustrated that which happened at the Desert Inn at Las Vegas. There was number that she would always do, at that time, she’d find a guy, an older guy with no hair, and bring him up on the stage and sit in his lap and sing “Makin Whoopee”. One evening she picked a guy who was with a woman who had had waaaay too much to drink, and while Lynda was singing “Makin Whoopee” to this guy while sitting in his lap on stage, the woman crawled off her chair and up the steps of the stage and started pulling on Lynda’s leg. I can’t think of very many people that that wouldn’t unnerve!
Q: Was the woman actually attacking Lynda?
Scott: It seems like she was trying to pull Lynda off of her friends’ lap, as if she was suffering a sudden attack of uncontrollable jealousy.
Q: Did the woman strike at Lynda?
Scott: No, no she was just pulling on her foot, but that was dangerous enough, because if she pulled Lynda off the stage it would have been a big drop. This story reminds me…when we did a show in Reno one year I was able to arrange for my great uncle to be picked without him knowing. He had a really bald head, and it was easy to point him out to Lynda, and she knew I was going to point someone out to her surreptitiously from the stage, so she brought him up, and that was really fun. Being from the west coast, my parents and several sets of aunts and uncles were there, and it was always fun to have family come to the show, because for me, coming from a small town in Oregon and suddenly performing with Lynda on the “Tonight Show” and these specials and in Las Vegas, to my family, you know, I might have been running for president! But it was really fun to arrange that with my uncle. He got the special treatment, and I remember he had very little to say afterwards. You know a lot of people have never been on stage in front of 3000 people, let alone having Lynda Carter lean across your lap while they were sitting on a stool, while she’d sing to you!
Q: What happened afterwards?
Scott: Lynda finished the song, and the security came and got the woman off and Lynda kept her composure, but the next number was from a musical. It was a medley of song and dance numbers that had a pre-recorded orchestral accompaniment, and also the dancing that Lynda did with the dancer, whose name was Blaine Savage, the dancing was really demanding, and the singing Lynda was also pre-recorded and Lynda would lipsync it as she danced. Almost anyone would have to do that, because the dancing was so physically demanding, and Lynda always did a fabulous job with Blaine, and even lipsyncing along with would have been a challenge. But this time she was unnerved by what had happened with the woman, and Lynda forgot to sing along, and so her voice is coming out of the speakers and her lips are not moving in synch, and every single one of wanted to help her, but there was no way, since our singing along would have been ridiculous.
Q: It must have been very hard for her at the time.
Scott: Yes, but fortunately the very next number was one that I sang lead on while she went offstage to change, and I remember seeing the entourage in her booth empty out. The people out front, her manager and the others came back stage to give her a pep talk while she was changing costume. As I recall, I not only did the one solo, but I was asked to do another one, and fortunately my vocal range was almost identical to Lynda’s. I could do pretty much anything she sang; Lynda’s an alto and I’m a tenor. Then she came back on and finished the show. Another funny incident happened when we were at the Trump Towers, I think, in Atlantic City. We were doing two shows a night, and the pre-record supplementary music was at that time on a reel to reel tape, and because we did two shows, to simplify the operation for the sound engineer, they had two versions of the same song with about 10 seconds in between a blank space, so what the engineer was supposed to do was to let it play for the first one, turn it off, and then not turn it on again until the next show, when at the same point and time it would already be cued up. Well, one night it was not stopped at the end of the song, and that song ended, and Lynda stepped into a pool of light onstage for a quiet moment to share something with the crowd before the next number, and suddenly this whirlwind of orchestral music started coming out of the speakers. Believe me, the engineer probably got a talking to after the show. Those are the dangers that technology can wreak upon a show if you’re depending on it!
Q: Later there was another part of Lynda’s act where she asked a member of the audience for a hankerchief or napkin to wipe her face...
Scott: and everything else!
Q: Yes, and everything else, but was there ever a time when that kind of audience participation got out of hand, like her choosing the bald man and his girlfriend getting out of hand?
Scott: You know, Lynda always kept it…she only let it go so far. I really don’t remember any racy moments getting out of hand with the crowd. There was plenty of innuendo in that kind of moment, but it was never too explicit. I think that Lynda’s shows for the most part were safe for any twelve-year old to come to with their parents.
Q: Can you recall any favorite songs that Lynda liked to sing, or did she ever change her style of music?
Scott: I kind of remember “Rain or Shine”as being one that she really liked, but then I may be projecting my own assumptions on her. Lynda was very enthusiastic about everything she sang, and whether that was theatrical or heartfelt, it certainly came across as heartfelt. She really enjoyed “The Boy From New York City” or “I’m All Right” and the ballads, like “Rain or Shine” were always…she consistently was very enthusiastic and emotive in all of them. There certainly song changes between ’82 and ’83. There were some things that stayed the same, maybe because those were favorites of hers. I’d have to go over a song list with you, I don’t know what was common between the two summers. Some things might change because we wanted to update the material. I remember there was a “Toto” ballad that we did, which might have been in ’82 or ’83. But Lynda appeared to thoroughly enjoy performing everything, I think that she just loved being onstage. That was just such a high for her, and she always had wanted to be a professional musician. Every actor I’ve ever known wanted to be a musician, and every musician wanted to be an actor. And for Lynda just being onstage, performing, was fun. And you know, we did have fun, there’s just no question about it, its’ a great way to make a living. I remember talking with the crew several times. The soundman had worked with “Aerosmith” and some other famous rock bands and talking about…we all wanted to make it, so to speak, we all wanted our own record deal, we wanted to perform in front of audiences, and he said, “you know, compared to most musicians in the world, you guys have made it, you’re doing Las Vegas with Lynda Carter, for God’s sake!” Thinking back on it now, it’s true you often don’t know what you have until it’s passed, and both on and off stage we all had nothing but a lot of fun great experiences, it was really great being Lynda’s friend and being professionally associated with her.
Q: Was the show always very scripted?
Scott: The show was very scripted. I don’t remember there ever being any audibles, so to speak, or changing the show on the fly. Now that’s not to say it never happened, because there might have been nights when Lynda was having to be careful with her voice, or something, where Johnny might have helped her. We all had plenty more material worked up than we would do every night, and any of us could easily do different numbers, but as a general rule, it was pretty much straight through the same list every time.
Q: Who were the other members of the group, the dancers who performed with Lynda in the musical numbers, the technical people?
Scott: At one point there were two dancers, Blaine Savage and Joey Sheck, and they were at the MGM Grand with us in 1982, and the next year it was just Blaine, I believe, they cut back from two dancers to one, and the soundman that did sound for us those two years was Michael George, and he was the guy that had formerly done sound for “Aerosmith” and other bands, and Michael ended up being a stockbroker a few years later!
Q: Did you often play double bills with performers?
Scott: Yes, and I remember a couple of the people that I really enjoyed sharing the bill with were the Smothers Brothers. We did a double bill with them at the Desert Inn one summer, but that was the only act I would show up for every night to see their show before us, because it was so funny. Tommy didn’t do a scripted act, and there was always something different every night. We opened for George Burns at Caesars Place, and one summer Arsenio Hall opened for us, before anybody knew who he was. For Rich Little at the time we were an opener, too, early in Lynda’s brief Las Vegas career, because he was established. So in that case we would have done two shows every night, and preceded Rich Little in every show. And in Atlantic City in 1982 Joel Grey opened for us, since he had just made the film “Cabaret”. If there was a comedian before or after us, there was basically two solid hours of entertainment back to back! But most of them were always over by midnight or one o’clock in the morning.
Q: Did you keep in touch with Lynda in the years after she stopped touring?
Scott: I’ve fallen out of touch with Lynda for no good reason. It’s been quite a number of years since I talked with her, but you know, she was so genuinely friendly with all of us, without reservations I can say we were all good friends. I can’t remember what year it was, but not only did we attend and play music at her wedding to Robert, but Lynda and I sang together at her sister Pam’s wedding. It was an outdoor ceremony held at her Malibu Canyon ranch. Lynda and I sang a duet, and for the life of me I can’t remember what it we sang, but I played guitar and she and I sang together. But after she moved to Washington and I left LA, we just didn’t stay in touch. I certainly wouldn’t mind talking with her at some point, but everybody gets busy with life and does their own thing, of course.
Q: Lynda has mentioned in several interviews that once her children have grown, she might go back to singing on the stage. Would you like to perform with her again?
Scott: That would be great fun, I certainly would! I had never even entertained the thought. It certainly would be in the realm of possibility but I wouldn’t have guessed that she would do that. I haven’t talked to Lynda in so long, but if it could fit in with all of our schedules……all of the guys in the band except Kendall have families with kids now, so it would take a little bit more arrangement to make that happen, but it would be great fun. I know that all of us, to one degree or another, have kept on performing or recording or writing. I know that Rich the drummer still plays pretty regularly in LA and also teaches multi-media at Long Beach State College. Joe and his wife Rose live in La Quinta and they have a lounge act, they still perform light music. Kendall lives in Oregon, he actually drives for FedEx now, but he had a band for a long time that played up there. As for me, I left Los Angeles after twelve years and moved to Colorado in 1992 and months after I was there I was signed to an independent label called “Rough Rider Records” out of LA and they flew me back and forth to record an album that was produced by Bob Mann, who has been a guitarist for James Taylor. But that album never got released, so after two years with “Rough Rider” and never having anything come out, I put a studio together at home and started working on putting something together on my own. It wasn’t too long after that that I started a family, and then of course the brakes went on. I still have a studio at home and I still write, and this last summer I edited a documentary movie called “Edge Dancing” and scored the music for it. It was actually a finalist at the Bamff Mountain Film Festival in Alberta. To make a living I do multi-media and video work for various clients, a lot of work for law firms. I still write music, but my main major audience is my six and three-year old.
Q: We’d like to thank you very much for sharing your great memories of being on the road with Lynda and her show.
Scott: The pleasure was all mine. Have a great evening!
Special Thanks to SCOTT MARTIN.
Interview © 2004 by WONDERLAND • The Ultimate Wonder Woman Site. All rights reserved.
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