Stephen S. Martin

(1959 - 2019)

On Saturday, August 10, 2019.

Beloved…Son of Benjamin and Patricia Martin, Brother of Logan and Susan Martin, Brother-in-law of Mary,

Knight-Martin and Ken Shadlen, Uncle of Ben Martin, Kate Martin and Louisa Shadlen, Companion of Judy Boring and Friend to many.

Musician, with various artists and bands, including Dark Victory (his first band!), BOB, Billy Gayles, the Mighty Big Band, Marsville, Kim Massey, Roland Johnson and Soul Endeavour, and many, many other great musicians (apologies that we cannot list you all).

It would be easy to say that Steve was all about the music because in many ways, he was. He knew from early on that music was his passion. He received his first guitar when he was six and he spent his life doing what he wanted to do -- making music. Playing it. Recording it. Writing it. His formal music training was limited--he  had soon learned all he could from his first guitar teacher, and he wanted to learn by doing. He met up with Billy Gayles (from Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm) as a kid and started playing East St. Louis nightclubs and learning the ropes of the music business. Steve went on to do a stint at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and then toured with the U.S. soul singer Marcus Kelly's band. In the 1980s, he formed a rock and roll band called BOB that terrorized St. Louis clubs for a few years. He eventually re-teamed with Gayles to form Billy & the Preachers, who played locally to a large following. Steve and Billy then formed The Mighty Big Band in 1986; it continued after Billy’s death, featuring various singers including Larry Thurston, Stacy Johnson, Roland Johnson and Margaret Bianchetta. At the time of his death Steve was performing with Kim Massie (since 2004) and with Roland Johnson and Soul Endeavour (formed in 2011).

Recently when discussing an article on Buddy Guy, he wrote that it “reminds me not to take for granted that I got to share time with a few who were part of the period in America when the whole blues thing happened. As a white guy, I’ve always struggled with calling myself or trying to be a ‘blues musician,’ whatever that means, but the ‘real’ side of it is that I did get an inside look and was able to absorb some of the energy of that special time in history.”

So a lot of Steve’s life was music. But he wasn’t just about the music. He was also all about his many friends and family. Steve didn’t have a lot of faith in the official systems of society. Speaking at his father’s memorial service, he explained that he had doubts about his parents’ efforts to change society from within its existing structures. But he also said admitted that secretly, within himself, “there’s been a part of me that hopes they’ve been right all along.” And Steve did have faith in people. Especially after his rebellious teenage years (!), Steve spent his life caring for others. He took people at face value. He was always willing to share a joke, to discuss a theory on alien existence or economics, or to listen to a problem and offer words of support. He was always there for those who needed him, including his parents as they got older, his friends and family, and other musicians.

Steve was a “gentle soul,” a bit of a goof, and an astounding musician. He is loved, and he will be greatly missed.

If you would like to do something in Steve’s name, please go out and support your local music scene and/or use your vote to help ensure healthcare for all.

Services: Please contact Steve’s family for service information.

The Family would like to invite you to share photos and  memories of Stephen here on his Memorial page. Please submit your photos to AmbrusterChapel@yahoo.com.

To view shared photos, please click on the following link: Photo album

Danka Brown3 Comments