Eric Martin (musician)

Eric Martin (musician)


Eric Lee Martin is an American rock singer/musician
active throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s both as a solo artist and as a member of various
bands. He earned his most prominent success as the
frontman for the hard rock band Mr. Big, a supergroup who scored a big hit in the early
1990s with “To Be with You,” a song that Martin wrote during his teen years. A local of the San Francisco Bay Area, Martin
first started his career in the music industry in 1978. Early years
Eric is the son of Frederick Lee “Pepper” Martin and Iris Martin. He has three younger siblings Dan, Joan and
Laurie; and is half-Irish, half-Italian. Musically, Eric Martin was first influenced
by his father, Frederick Lee “Pepper” Martin. Pepper Martin had a gig as drummer for the
band “The Buzz”. This first gig would actually be an opener
for Sérgio Mendes, a renowned jazz/ R&B artist in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Martin was a drummer only for a while. Realizing it fit his personality better, he
opted for the position of front man / lead vocalist in the next bands he was in. He played in a handful of teen rock groups
such as “S.F. Bloodshy” and “Backhome” while attending
Foothill High School in Sacramento, California. Eric performed in a punk band in the mid 70s
called ‘The Innocents’ with Connie Champagne and Ric Walz-Smith. Also in 1974-75, Eric played a lot of college
clubs with Jim Preston in a band called The J.C. Michaels Band. He started to make it big when he joined a
band called “Stark Raving Mad” in Santa Rosa, California. Stark Raving Mad, which also included Donavan
and Brian Stark, cut a Demo with Bearsville Records that was produced by Chris Nicks
During the summer break in 1974, Martin joined a Musical Comedy Workshop held at Mira Loma
High school in Sacramento. He auditioned for the part of Judas, but wasn’t
given the part. Instead, he was made the understudy. Martin credits the honing of his voice to
his teacher, Judy Davis. She taught him diction, stamina, and breath-control. The Martin family finally settled in the San
Francisco Bay Area in about 1976. Martin attended Galileo High School and met
up with some of the guys who would join him in his first successful venture – the band
“Kid Courage”. Kid Courage opened for AC/DC for two shows
in the Bay Area, which were actually AC/DC’s first shows in America. Musical influences
Martin has always been able to sing either rock, soul, or even country music. He grew up listening to both soul and rock
icons in the 70s, such as Otis Redding, Paul Rodgers, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones,
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Edgar Winter, Free, and Humble Pie. When he was about 13 to 15 years old, while
living in Italy, he was introduced musically to different artists under Motown Records
and Stax/Volt Records. He often collaborates and performs with fellow
songwriter and friend Andre Pessis. 415 / Eric Martin Band, 1978–1985
Martin had decided to live independently by the age of 18. His first job was selling ice-cream. The big break he needed came when John Nymann,
guitarist for the band “Mile Hi”, gave him a call and asked if he would want to form
a new band together. The two had known each other from the past,
since their former bands had played together at the Mabuhay Gardens on Broadway. In agreement, John Nymann and Eric Martin
got together people from both their previous bands and formed a new group named 415 – which
was the telephone area code for the San Francisco Bay Area, since every person in the band was
from there. 415 was formed in late 1979. It marked the start of Eric Martin’s career
as lead vocalist. Eric says, “415 played hundreds of shows at
area nightclubs, beer parties, even high school and college dances, before eventually headlining
San Francisco’s premiere night club – the Old Waldorf. Selling out in advance, word quickly spread
about our dynamic live shows and soon we were opening for established acts like Billy Squier,
Hall & Oates, Rick Springfield, Molly Hatchet, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Foreigner, to
name a few. Eventually, without yet being signed to a
recording contract, we played in front of 60,000 fans at Oakland Stadium at Bill Graham’s
Days on the Green Concert.” The band became a popular local draw, all
the while still being an unsigned act. 415 was later signed on to Elektra/Asylum
Records under the management of Walter “Herbie” Herbert, Ron Chiarottino, and Sandy Einstein. These three persons managed and worked for
the band Journey. The management decided to change the name
of the band to the “Eric Martin Band”, as singer-named bands were popular during
that time. EMB debuted their first album in 1983, entitled
Sucker for a Pretty Face. The LP received a gold disc, and consequently
led to the band’s appearance on American Bandstand and in various arena tours as the
opening act for the likes of ZZ Top, Night Ranger, and Journey. In one interview, Eric mentions that they
“worked thousands of shows, from clubs, to frat house parties, Bill Graham concerts,
opening for anybody and everybody.” One of the most acclaimed performances of
the band was a solo tour in 1983 held at Honolulu, Hawaii. But despite continuing to land high-profile
gigs as support for some of the most popular acts at the time, the band decided to split
up in 1985 after returning from the ZZ Top tour. Solo career after Eric Martin Band, 1985–1988
After the break-up, Martin continued involving himself in several recordings and gigs. He contributed to the track “I Can’t Stop
the Fire” from the movie soundtrack Teachers, as well as “These Are the Good Times” and
“Eyes Of The World” from the movie Iron Eagle. In 1985, Eric Martin released a self-titled
album – Eric Martin – which was followed later on in 1987 by another album called I’m
Only Fooling Myself. These solo albums exemplify Eric’s unique
soulful voice and candid lyrics. The latter, I’m Only Fooling Myself, was re-issued
in 2008 by Rock Candy Records. The album is a compilation of songs written
by such people as Myles Hunter, John Waite, and a whole host of other established songwriters. It also included top West Coast session musicians
such as drummers Mike Baird and Mickey Curry, guitarists Richie Zito, Tim Pierce, Michael
Landau, and Rick Nowells. A compilation of the two solo albums are available
on Soul Sessions – The Capitol Years CD. At his young age, Eric had also been invited
to audition for various iconic bands in the 70s & 80s, such as Van Halen, Toto, and Rainbow. Mr. Big, 1988–2002
In 1988, Martin teamed up with Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey, and Paul Gilbert to form Los Angeles
supergroup Mr. Big. The band combined “shredding” musicianship
with melodic vocal harmonies. The reputations of the players generated immediate
interest in fellow musicians, and the band was signed to Atlantic Records in 1989. That year, the band released their eponymous
debut, which received critical and commercial success in the US and Japan. In June 1990, the group toured America with
the Canadian band Rush. The group’s 1991 release, Lean Into It, featured
two ballads that established them as a commercial success: “To Be with You” and “Just Take
My Heart”. The album was followed by a British tour in
April and May of the same year, supported by bands The Throbs and Heartland. After another British tour, the band released
the Mr. Big Live album in 1992. Mr. Big continued work on a third album as
they headlined shows across the U.K. in 1993. In December, the band notably broke away from
this run to play as support act for Aerosmith’s three-night, sold-out stand at London’s Wembley
Arena. In 1993, another ballad from Mr. Big’s new
album Bump Ahead rose to the top 10 of the charts – a cover of Cat Steven’s “Wild
World”. Although the band was unable to sustain commercial
success in the US, their popularity in Japan continued to soar, leading to several Japan-only
live albums as Raw Like Sushi I, Raw Like Sushi II, Japandemonium, and Mr. Big in Japan
While in Mr. Big, Martin was also involved in other projects on the side. In 1995, Martin was the vocalist in The Power
Rangers Orchestra, which also featured Guns ‘N’ Roses member, Matt Sorum. Their version of “Go Go Power Rangers” was
featured in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. In 1996, Mr. Big released Hey Man, which sold
strongly in the Far East. In 1997, the band released the album, Live
At Budokan, before taking a break from recording and touring. Martin’s third solo album, Somewhere in the
Middle was written during the two-year hiatus from Mr. Big. The CD was completed in 1998 and released
in Japan, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Strong Japanese sales prompted a 1998 tour. While recording their fifth studio album,
Paul Gilbert announced his decision to leave the band, and new guitarist, Richie Kotzen
was added to the lineup. In 1998, Eric also recorded the song “I Love
the Way You Love Me” under Atlantic Records, and was released as a solo track. The new line-up of Mr. Big released Get Over
It on September 1999 in Japan. Get Over It yielded “Superfantastic”, a number
one hit in Japan that went multi-platinum. It proved to be Atlantic’s biggest selling
release in that territory. Mr. Big put in a 20-date tour of Japan followed
by a rousing New Year’s Eve 1999 show with Aerosmith at the Osaka Dome in Osaka. Get Over It was released in the U.S. on March
21, 2000, followed by a short club stint at The Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, California. In the summer of 2001, Martin and the rest
of Mr. Big released Actual Size in Japan and the rest of Asia. The CD stayed on the charts in the number
three spot and “Shine” the first single off the album was number one. The song was also used as the ending theme
for the animation series, Hellsing. Though headed for a breakup, the members of
Mr. Big performed a farewell tour of Japan and Asia in 2002 as part of a contract they
were obliged to comply with. All combined, worldwide sales of Mr. Big albums
featuring Eric Martin topped the seven million mark. Solo albums and projects after Mr. Big, 2002–2004
In between promoting and preparing for Mr. Big’s 2002 “Farewell Tour”, Martin continued
to record songs for his fourth solo album. He promised a return to his “rawk roots” and
he definitely did so with “I’m Goin’ Sane” which was released in Asia, Europe, and the
US in late 2002. After the success of a Japan tour, an appearance
at the European “Gods Festival”, and a 23-city US tour, Martin decided to go back to the
studio to record Pure, an EP that covers his hits in an unplugged and stripped-down acoustic
form. In 2002, during the demise of Mr. Big, Martin
married Denise, the sometime-drummer of the Eric Martin Band. In 2003, Martin contributed his version of
“Cheer Up” to the Japanese release Sincerely 2 – Mariya Takeuchi Song Book album. He also came to attention outside of his priority
solo activities, portraying the character “Mr. Niko” for a 2004 “Genius” outing In Search
of The Little Prince. Later on, Martin would record another album
entitled Destroy All Monsters, which would then be released in Japan, Europe, the US,
and South America in 2004. The album’s sound is something Eric calls
“distorted pop” with a focus on his rock roots. That same year Eric was unable to promote
the album as much as he wanted, due to a call from the biggest guitar star in Japan, Tak
Matsumoto. Tak Matsumoto Group, 2004
Tak’s band, B’z, has sold over 80 million records and held onto success for over 20
years in Japan. Tak decided to put together a rock band called
Tak Matsumoto Group, or TMG, with his favorite players; this would include Eric on vocals,
Jack Blades on bass, and Chris Frasier on drums, and, of course, Tak on guitar. They spent four months writing and recording
an album in Los Angeles, did a 10-day promotional tour in Japan, quickly followed by a Platinum
album, and a 20-city sold-out tour from July to September, ending in Japan’s famous 15,000-seat
arena, Budokan. The Japanese tour for TMG saw the inclusion
of Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” in the set list. TMG was among the top five bands on melodicrock.com
during that time, but the band no longer pursued tours beyond Japan. During the same year TMG was in the works,
Eric and Denise were also expecting twin boys by December. In light of this, Eric decided to lie low
for the next couple of years. Projects between 2004–2007
From 2004 to 2007, Martin was involved in numerous projects while remaining near home. A more comprehensive collection of his works
are available on Eric Martin’s Official Site. His projects included singing tracks on albums
of different composers/artists, singing for karaoke games, video games, and TV commercials,
and joining benefit concerts all year round. Martin wrote and recorded the theme song for
the Pride Fighting Championships, which was a major mixed martial arts organization. The song “The Last Man Standing” debuted New
Year’s Eve 2006 on pay-per-view to millions of viewers. Martin also wrote and recorded a song for
guitar legend Ronnie Montrose’s CD, 10×10. He sings along with nine other singers including
Sammy Hagar, Edgar Winter, Davey Pattison, and Mark Farner. The 10×10 album sparked interest in Eric’s
vocal performance and he was asked to sing the classic song, “Guitar Man”, with Ronnie
Montrose, Denny Carmasi, and Ricky Phillips to take to the Sundance Film Festival. Martin also composed and performed a song
called “Fly” for the commercial of Asahi Super Dry Beer in Japan. It is accompanied by a music video which is
available at Youtube.com International tours in 2007–2009
From 2007 to 2009, Martin toured all over Europe, South America, and India, with different
local bands backing him up at each tour. It all started as an idea a few years before;
Eric and Denise were figuring out how to make tours overseas cost effective and fresh per
performance. They would call promoters all around the world
and book shows 5 months in advance, find the best rock musicians or the most popular bands
in the big cities and have them learn 18 to 20 of Eric’s tunes, send mp3’s back and forth. Eric performed all over the world with bands
such as The Road Vultures from Argentina, Hayseed from Norway, Raw Like Sushi from Italy,
and John McNamara’s band from Australia. The tour in India came as a surprise for Martin,
as he never expected to perform in front of more than 20,000 people. Martin was invited by the King of Tripura,
Kirit Pradyot Deb Burman, to perform Mr. Big songs during the Rock Festival at Shillong. Shillong is well known in India as a place
for avid music-lovers, especially rock. Eric and the band members were graciously
treated as state guests and were escorted upon arrival in India and during the concert. Amit Paul, a popular singer from the show
“Indian Idol”, together with other Indian celebrities, joined the show and sang part
of “To Be With You” with Eric. The gig in India was meant to be only a seven-to-ten
thousand seat show; but, as people started to break into the barricades, the crowd got
larger. The situation was handled, nevertheless, and
the show was an amazing success. The whole festival in general was phenomenal. Martin also toured with Richie Kotzen in South
America, a former bandmate from Mr. Big. The two found themselves performing 15,000-seat
shows and playing the songs of Mr. Big together again. Scrap Metal, 2007
While taking his family on a stroll along the Marin County Fair, Eric was able to watch
a performance by the Nelson Brothers and was later introduced to them by a common friend. The Nelson Brothers, Matthew and Gunnar, invited
Eric to join them in the new 80s all-star band they were forming called “Scrap Metal”. Generally, Scrap Metal would be a band dedicated
to performing classic heavy metal and rock ‘n’ roll hits from the 80s and 90s. On February 3, 2007, Eric Martin, together
with Matthew and Gunnar Nelson of “Nelson”, Mark Slaughter of “Slaughter”, Jani Lane of
“Warrant”, and Kelly Keagy of “Night Ranger”, performed under the “Scrap Metal” banner for
an MTV filmed concert at the Mohegan Sun Hotel & Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. They would compose the core of the band. A few months later, he made an appearance
as a Guest Vocalist of Japanese Jazz Fusion Band T-Square on their album, 33. The song he was featured in is called “Tell
the Truth”, which is based on T-Square’s hit from 1987, “Truth”. Scrap Metal would tour around the US all year
round. In most performances, they would often have
different guests who were likewise players from other 80’s bands. Mr. Vocalist 1 and 2
In early 2008, Martin was approached, again, by Sony Japan to do a project wherein he would
cover famous Japanese Ballads sung by women. The album, entitled “Mr. Vocalist”, was released
in November 2008 and topped the charts of several cities in Japan; it was also the number-one
seller in several online record stores. The album would include ballads such as “I
Believe” by Ayaka, “Yuki no Hana” by Mika Nakashima, and “M” by Princess Princess. Seeing the success of “Mr. Vocalist”, Sony
Japan opted to follow it up with another one. “Mr. Vocalist 2” was unique from the first
because all the songs included in it were famous international ballads, and were voted
in by fans either through the internet or through mobile phone. Eric and Sony Japan lined up about 30 international
ballads sung by women, such as “Hero” by Mariah Carey and “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles. The top 12 songs were taken from the list
and were covered by Eric and Sony Japan’s team of top musicians. The resulting album was released on March
4, 2009, and topped the charts all over Japan at its debut. For months, it continued to move along the
top five albums in Japan. Mr. Big reunion, 2009 and beyond A near Mr. Big “one-off” reunion took place
on May 13, 2008, in Los Angeles, at the House Of Blues, when Paul Gilbert was joined onstage
by Pat Torpey, Richie Kotzen and Billy Sheehan for renditions of Humble Pie’s ’30 Days In
The Hole’ and original Mr. Big composition ‘Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy’. Reportedly, the three had such an amazing
time that they decided to contact Eric Martin a few days later, and a reunion of the four
original members was put into motion. The reunion was first officially announced
on February 1, 2009, in a Japanese radio program called “Heavy Metal Syndicate by Koh Sakai”. The interviews and press conferences that
followed shortly within the first two weeks of February revealed plans of the band to
tour Japan in June 2009 and to release new albums. A world tour followed suit, with dates all
across Europe, and several gigs in South East Asia, particularly in India, Thailand, Philippines,
Singapore, Indonesia, and South Korea. In 2010, Eric participated in a tribute album
titled Mister Bolin’s Late Night Revival, a compilation of 17 previously-unreleased
tracks written by guitar legend Tommy Bolin, prior to his death in 1976. The CD includes other artists such as HiFi
Superstar, Doogie White, Troy Luccketta, Jeff Pilson, Randy Jackson, Rachel Barton, Rex
Carroll, Derek St. Holmes, Kimberley Dahme, and The 77’s. A percentage of the proceeds from this project
will benefit the Jackson Recovery Centers. In 2010, Mr. Big recorded a new album titled
What If…, produced by Kevin Shirley and released in early 2011. On May 10, 2011, after almost two decades,
Mr. Big stepped on stage at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila, the Philippines. The band performed most of the songs from
“Lean Into It”, with the crowd singing along. The band also introduced a couple of new songs
from “What If”. It was an amazing night in Manila and they
promised to come back sooner, with Eric Martin citing how long it took for the band before
they came back. A standing ovation after the performance was
hailed by Filipinos fans screaming “We want more!”, resulting in two more encores. The band recently embarked on a very successful
South American tour that ended with two dates in Brazil, the last of which in the city of
Porto Alegre on July 10, where, according to Eric Martin himself, Mr. Big had a great
“end of the tour party” live in front of over 2,000 wildly cheering fans who jam-packed
the local rock venue Bar Opinião. Tickets were sold out several days in advance. Martin referred to the crowd’s reaction as
“phenomenal”, and promised the band would be back in town in the future. In 2013, Martin was invited to be part of
the metal opera project Avantasia, by Tobias Sammet. He did vocals for a song on their album The
Mystery of Time called What’s Left of Me, and was part of their 2013 world tour in support
of the album as one of the guest vocalists. Today
During September 2013 Eric Martin confirmed he would appear as a guest in the 25 anniversary
album from Mägo de Oz,a Folk/Celtic Metal Spanish band. Discography
Solo Sucker For A Pretty Face
Eric Martin I’m Only Fooling Myself
Iron Eagle Original Soundtrack Somewhere in the Middle
I’m Goin’ Sane Pure
Destroy All Monsters Mr. Vocalist
Mr. Vocalist 2′ Mr. Vocalist ‘X’Mas
Mr. Vocalist 3 Mr. Rock Vocalist
Compilation albums Soul Sessions: The Capitol Years
Love Is Alive: Works of 1985-2010 Mr. Vocalist Best
with The Eric Martin Band Sucker for a Pretty Face
with Mr. Big See: Mr. Big Discography
Mr. Big Lean into It
Bump Ahead Hey Man
Get Over It Actual Size
What If… The Stories We Could Tell
with The Tak Matsumoto Group TMG I
Guest appearances Big Trouble – Big Trouble
Michael Bolton – The Hunger Signal – Loud & Clear
Todd Rundgren – Nearly Human Europe – Prisoners in Paradise
Laura Branigan – Over My Heart Sammy Hagar – Marching to Mars
Mogg/Way – Edge of the World Lebocat – Flo’s Barbershop
Harry Hess – Just Another Day Mariya Takeuchi – Sincerely, Vol. 2: Mariya
Takeuchi Song Book Various artists – Genius: A Rock Opera, Episode
2: In Search of the Little Prince Richie Zito’s Avalon – Avalon
Various artists – Genius: A Rock Opera, Episode 3: The Final Surprise
Ted Nugent – Love Grenade T-Square – 33
Jun Senoue – The Works Pushking – The World as We Love It
Avantasia – The Mystery of Time Mägo de Oz – “Celtic Land”
Tribute album appearances Various artists – Working Man: A Tribute to
Rush Various artists – Siam Shade Tribute
Various artists – Mister Bolin’s Late Night Revival
Various artists – Sin-Atra Various artists – Working Class Dogs: A Tribute
to Rick Springfield Various artists – L’Arc~en~Ciel Tribute
Soundtrack appearances Teachers Original Soundtrack
Iron Eagle Original Soundtrack Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Original Soundtrack
Mad About You Soundtrack Daytona USA Circuit Edition Original Soundtrack
Pride FC theme song “Last Man Standing” References External links
Official Eric Martin site Eric’s videos with Mr. BIG

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