Marty Grebb, a born and bred Chicagoan, comes from a musical family, and began studying music at age eight. The piano was first, and then he began studying saxophone at age ten. His father, Harry Grebb is an accomplished saxophonist, who played in the big-band era, on the road, and also in the club scene around the Chicago area. Marty also took drum lessons from his father, and from some of his friends, who themselves were accomplished drummers. Marty’s brother Bob is a guitarist, and has written music instruction books with jazz greats like Howard Roberts and Joe Pass. Because of this, Marty got interested in guitar as a side line, and ended up playing the instrument, along side his brother, as HE learned. This guitar playing became useful in many situations, including playing it in live settings with Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Rosanne Cash, Leon Russell, and various other artists. Leon Russell said Marty was the best rhythm guitarist he ever had in any of his bands.
At age twelve Marty joined his first group, playing with musicians variously older than himself. This continued until age fifteen, when he formed a new band with his High School friend, Peter Cetera. The band was called The Exceptions, and was the most respected and well known band of it’s kind in the Chicago area in those years. Formal musical training was continued at the American Conservatory of Music after Marty graduated from High School. Though accomplished singers themselves, The Exceptions were used by many local singing groups, particularly at a club called The Brown Derby, as a back up band. One of these groups was the Dells , with whom they became good friends. Through this relationship, they were discovered by local dee- jay, Dick Kemp, who introduced them to Calvin Carter at Vee Jay records, who signed them to a deal. Marty was then sixteen years old.
Because of this signing, Marty became more in contact with roots musicians who were on the roster like Jimmy Reed, and John Lee Hooker, and from listening to W.V.O.N. radio, a late night favorite of the band. Soon after this time period, he also recorded with Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield. He began writing some of his own material, which was recorded and had some regional success.
In 1966, a local band that were big fans of the Exceptions, had lost their keyboardist, and asked Marty to join. This was The Buckinghams, and they went on to have six, top-ten, national selling hit recordings together
with Marty for Columbia Records, and three top twenty albums.
During the course of these events, Marty became more and more interested in the recording process, and started to get involved in the production end of things. He began appearing on many television
shows of the times also, like: The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Tonight Show, The Jerry Lewis Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and many more national and international t.v. shows.
In nineteen-sixty-nine, he moved out to Los Angeles, after years of traveling had gained him some connections out there. At the end of that year, he was asked to join a Bay Area group called Lovecraft, that was being managed by Bill Graham. The band was signed by Warner Brothers Records, and some of the material written by Marty was covered by other artists.
Lovecraft began to self-distruct, and not long after, Marty was contacted by an old friend from The Electric Flag, Harvey Brooks. Harvey was starting a new band, backed by one of the promoters of the Woodstock Festival, Michael Lang. The band was to include Marty’s old band mate from The Exceptions, Kal David, and was being organized up in Woodstock, which was a hot bed of musical activity at the time. Marty co-produced the first album for this band, The Fabulous Rhinestones, which became a cult classic. The Rhinestones were an opening act for many groups of that time, including Sly and the Family Stone, and Marty got to play with John Lennon at a Peace Festival in New York City. The Rhinestones headlined over many up and coming acts also, including The Eagles and The Doobie Brothers. Marty did some recording sessions with Paul Butterfield, who was then also living up in Woodstock. He did some sessions with David Sanborn and Joe Walsh too. It was at this time that Marty also met Bonnie Raitt who had come to town to do her second album, Give it Up, and she asked Marty to play on it. This relationship has continued on until today, and Marty has played on many of Bonnie’s albums, including the classic, Nick of Time, Longing in Their Hearts, Road Tested, and the last one, Fundamental. That first initial meeting was in nineteen-seventy-two. While in Woodstock, Marty got to be friends with members of The Band, and ended up as part of Rick Danko’s band when he began a solo career. More recently, The Band recorded a song he co-wrote with Daniel Moore, for their “Jericho” album. He rekindled his friendship with Levon Helm, and they wrote a song together for The Band’s next album. The song is called Kentucky Downpour. He also did some songwriting in the 1980’s with Richard Manuel, one of his
favorite songwriters, and very missed friends. Unfortunately, almost all of those tapes have been lost. While living in the New York area, Marty did some recording with Tito Puente, and also some with Jack DeJohnette.
In nineteen-seventy-four, Marty moved back to Los Angeles and began playing alternately, with Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Greg Allman, Bonnie Bramlett and he did some recording with members of
the group Chicago. He did some demo work for Lou Adler, and helped co-produce some projects, while touring with Willie Nelson, until he was subsequently asked to join the group Chicago. He continued on with the group for a couple of years, and did some songwriting with band members Lee Loughnane, and Robert Lamm. Back in the old days, Marty and Terry Kath were roommates for a time, and he had a long connection of working with musicians who ended up in that group.
During this time period, through the meeting of some television producers, Marty got to work on camera in comedy skits with various comedians. Two main such instances where with Richard Pryor, in a sketch called “Black Death” on Richard’s weekly show, and on a special with George Carlin, where it was just the two of them on camera. Marty then became part of a t.v. houseband with old friend Mike Finnigan, who almost became an “Exception” himself in the early days. Mike had played with Jimi Hendrix on the Electric Ladyland album. Together, with a band full of great musicians, they backed up , from week to week, artists like Les Paul, Jeff Beck, Steven Stills, Ted Nugent, Todd Runngren, old friend Etta James, and many more. At this time, Marty was called in to play on Rossanne Cash’s new album, which was being produced by her then husband, Rodney Crowell. She asked him to join the band and hit the road, which included Vince Gill, Tony Brown, Emory Gordy, Hank Devito, and Larry Londin.
Bonnie Raitt called back and asked Marty to join her band again, and he continued on til the “Luck of the Draw” album. His songwriting skills were developing more, and he co-wrote “Breaking Point” with Jerry Lynn Williams for Eric Clapton’s Journeyman album.During these years, he played in many horn sections also, including the group Chicago’s, The Memphis Horns, The Texacali Horns, another great section with Rick Braun and Jimmy Roberts from Rod Stewart’s band, and with Doc Kupka of Tower of Power. Also trumpet player Lee Thornberg, Nick Layne and Marty did various albums together.
Marty got to know producer John Porter, and through that relationship then played on some of John’s productions, like Taj Mahal, Otis Rush, and Buddy Guy. Also around that time, Stevie Nicks asked Marty out on the road with her for a tour she was doing of her own. Don Was has used Marty on some projects of his including the “duets” album, on which Marty was the horn section for Little Richard and Tanya Tucker. He has been become gradually more involved in the areas of film, and worked with Danny Elfman on his Dead Presidents sound track. He also has been closely associated with Steven Seagal, and had three songs in his film “Fire Down Below”. Levon Helm was in that film, and they went on the road together with an all-star band with Marty as musical director, to promote Steven’s film. He also has done some music supervision.
Marty also appeared in the film “Ticker” with Steven, Billy Preston, Leland Sklar, Zigaboo Modeliste and Clarence Gatemouth Brown. He also appeared performing live in the film “One Night Stand”
for director Mike Figgis, and wrote two songs for that Wesley Snipes film.
He performed on a video that is now a recent release, but originally done at the close of the nineteen seventies with J.J. Cale, featuring Leon Russell. It has been released a s a DVD by Classic Pictures Company U.K., and is entitled “J.J. Cale.”
Partially, as a result of that work, he was recently asked to play and do some arranging on Eric Clapton’s new album, which was co-produced by J.J.Cale. That album, “The Road To Escondido” recently was released at the outset of 2007. Marty has a little bit of a history with Eric also, who recorded some of Marty’s songs .
Marty has made an appearance as a multiinstrumentalist on the recently released c.d. by Owny Rutledge also.
Marty’s last solo album was released on the Telarc label. He had the help of many of his friends in the studio, like Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and all the many musicians Marty has been fortunate enough to work with over the years, including guys like Jim Keltner, Steve Cropper, Amos Garrett and many, many more.
Marty has two wonderfully talented daughters, Nika and Anna, and a talented son who is a singer who’s name is Chris. He also has two talented step daughters, Leigh an artist, and Bridget who is a Chinese accupuncturist and herboligist. Get his last album, “Smooth Sailin'”, on the Telarc label, and be on the lookout for his latest work, “High Steppin” soon to be released.