Influential Early Folk Rocker Vince Martin Dead at 81
Folk rock pioneer Vince Martin has died at the age of 81, multiple sources confirmed. Although he only had one hit single in his career, recording “Cindy, Oh Cindy” seven years before the Beach Boys covered it, he was a major influence on a number of artists, and remained an active musician until he was hospitalized in March after being diagnosed with lung disease.
Despite being known for his 1956 pop success, Martin had already established a reputation in the folk rock scene, having recorded Tear Down These Walls in 1964 with collaborator Fred Neil. The LP also featured John Sebastian and Felix Pappalardi, of the Lovin’ Spoonful and Mountain respectively, and was later cited as an influence by the Byrds and Grateful Dead, among others.
He also received acclaim for 1969 solo album If the Jasmine Don’t Get You … The Bay Breeze Will, which featured the backing band who’d just finished working on Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, along with Little Feat’s Lowell George and some of the Memphis Horns. In the early ‘70s Martin – full name Vincent Marcellino – was active in Miami’s Coconut Grove scene, interacting with David Crosby and Joni Mitchell. In later years he inspired Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore.
In a 2011 interview, Martin’s then-collaborator Alana Amram told how she’d discovered a recording of Crosby and him singing together, although Martin had forgotten the session and even that he’d written the song. “I’ve got so many songs, if I don’t record them I forget them,” he said. “You can’t just walk out of your house and go into a recording studio. … There’s songs you write that you like, songs you like better than others, there’s songs you do with more gusto. When someone sings a song they’re supposed to sing, you can tell. When you’re close to a song you can tell.”
Todd Kwait, who directed 2010 documentary Vagabondo! about Martin, told Rolling Stone: “He was a dear friend for a long time and had a positive spirit about life. He loved people, he loved to be out and he had a sharp mind.”