Dorsey Roy Martin: “Skippy, Do You Like Jazz?”
“Skippy, do you like jazz?” Dorsey Martin would ask my dachshund Skippy, holding his head. And he would move Skippy’s nose side to side, clearly indicating NO. Then he would ask, “Skippy, do you like Magma?” And he’d make Skippy’s head nod up and down.
That was the Dorsey Roy Martin I remember from the days when he worked for me at School Kids Records. I had the shop from 1974-78 in north Tampa (across from the former Schlitz plant on 30th Street), and I had an eclectic bunch of employees, none more eclectic than Martin, Gary Littleton, Mike Knapp, and Richard Barone. They had distinctive music tastes and talents, as it turns out. Here is a link to an outstanding obit about Martin’s musical career by Ray Roa of Creative Loafing. Here is some of Martin’s artwork:
Barone, a supremely talented musician who made great waves with The Bongos and on his own, with at least eight albums to his credit, most notably Cool Blue Halo, posted these:
I was heartbroken to hear the news. Dorsey was one of the first musicians I ever really collaborated with. He was adventurous, funny, and smart, and his musical sensibilities became a part of mine. His intelligence and b.s. filter became an important test to my own eccentricities. Those Snails recording and “rehearsal” sessions were unforgettable and taught me things I still bring with me to every stage and every studio. Dorsey Roy Martin, you ROCKED. Rest in peace.
I posted a few days ago about the sad passing of my friend Dorsey Roy Martin but wanted to share this article from today’s Creative Loafing Tampa. When I was still in Tampa, Dorsey was the drummer in my first band, Snails. He also played guitar sometimes. An avid Captain Beefheart fan and also a fan of the obscurely wonderful French group Magma, he brought a lot of experimentation and wild abandon to our sound. He understood humor in music, which made us mutual fans of Sparks. We recorded together at a 4-track studio in Tampa with Marla Misenheimer on bass and created quite a lovely noise. I will always remember Dorsey and all the fun we had learning to make music and collaborate, with the intent of letting our diversity make something new and sometimes wild. Rest well, my friend.
(I still have my cassette of Snails titled You Can Never Have Too Many Snails; my favorite tune was “Shopping Mall Queen.”)
Martin and Knapp in particular introduced me to Magma and Budgie and Sparks and Patto and dozens of other bands I did not know. Both were artists; Knapp painted the storefront window. And both helped to decorate the store in wonderfully bizarre style.
More than anything, however, were the witticisms and bon mots that Martin in particular offered.
Customer: Do you have the new Earth, Wind, and Fire?
Martin: Sorry, we’re fresh out.
He and Knapp referred to the “stylish” moccasins I used to wear as “Davey-mocs” (as in Davey Crockett). They referred to a crowbar as a “pinch bar,” which they pronounced “peench.” And pliers were “channel locks.”
They called the Little General convenience stores “the Little Mineral,” which Martin reminded me last year they had shortened to “Mineral.”
We had an unusual customer who always wore this sailor’s cap. Eventually, he was referred to as “Sailor Boy Logan” (which was not his name).
There was another customer, a really good one, who was a fan of softer rock, and he was cue-ball bald. He earned the nickname “Egg.” Which caused a laugh riot when an employee (who will go unnamed, but she knows who she is), in the excitement of telling him an album he ordered was in, burst out with, “Hey, Egg! We got your Dan Fogelberg!”
Martin usually took the Sunday shift, when the store closed at 6 p.m. Shortly after 5, he would start playing Magma or Aphrodite’s Child (666 — another favorite) to clear out the store. (He might have started before 5!)
Through it all, though, Martin always greeted customers with a smile. Except for the dude who would buy a record, leave it in the back window of the car, return it with the grooves melted, and say, “This one is scratched and warped, and I want a different one.” Third time, we gave him his money back and suggested he take his “business” elsewhere.
I knew that Martin and Knapp had a punk band called XXX Girls shortly after the store closed (maybe before), and I recall one night driving down Nebraska with a friend. We passed a bar near the dog track, and the sign said: TONIGHT! XXX Girls! The friend said, “I didn’t know that was a strip club.” I was unable to contain my guffaws before I explained it to him.
Out of the blue, I got a call from Dorsey while I was on the air at WMNF in May of 2016 doing my annual Mothers’ Day Special, playing the jazz music of Frank Zappa on The Colors of Jazz. That was deluxe.
Oh, yeah. “Deluxe” was one of their favorite words. And his favorite curse word was “heck.”
I had the great fortune to run into Mike Knapp at MOSI last November or December. He is the artist in residence and designer there, displaying his truly fabulous paintings and designing all kinds of cool items for children to play on, crawl through, and enjoy. Shortly thereafter, I created an Facebook group with Martin and Knapp to discuss a School Kids reunion party, and both were enthusiastic about it.
You can imagine my disappointment now in not getting that together sooner.
There was only one Dorsey Roy Martin. I’m just glad I got to know him.