The vastly unsung New Wave act and writer of “Bad Case of Loving You” dead at age 69
Obscurity rarely brings its rewards. That’s especially true for any artist that wants to be more than a backseat driver and instead gain fame by standing in the spotlight. Sadly, it was the former scenario that mostly characterized Moon Martin’s career.
Martin, who died on May 11 at the age of 69 will be forever remembered as the man who wrote the mega hit “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” for Robert Palmer and the minor hit “Cadillac Walk’ for Willy DeVille. Ironically Martin originally recorded both songs first on his 1978 album Shots from a Cold Nightmare, one of several early albums he released on Capitol at the end of the ‘70s, Yet despite having originated the two tune, their origins remain overshadowed by the better known versions even now.
Nevertheless, for all the apparent frustration, Martin did enjoy a prolific recording career that spawned four albums on Capitol (the aforementioned Shots from a Cold Nightmare, Escape from Domination, Street Fever and Mystery Ticket), a pair of French imports (Mystery Ticket, Dreams on Fire), and three final releases (Cement Monkey, Lunar Samples, and the belated Louisiana Juke-Box). Nevertheless, by the end of the ‘90s, his recording career was over and any attempt to further establish himself as a singular presence effectively came to an end.
Martin, whose given first name was “John,” acquired the nickname “Moon” due to his predilection for referencing the word “moon” in his lyrics. Born in Oklahoma, he made his first entry into the musical universe as part of a rockabilly band called the Disciples, a group he, Eric Dalton, Fontaine Brown, and Jim Pulte formed at the University of Oklahoma in the mid ‘60s. After relocating to Los Angeles in 1967, the band changed its name to Southwind and recorded three albums under that aegis with little to modest success.
Martin’s own efforts took flight ten years later during the height of the punk/power pop movement wand it was there that he found himself a perfect fit. His rocksteady grooves and brash attitude were seemingly at odds with his owlish, librarian-looking persona, but he still managed to define himself in an era where image was everything. And while wider recognition evaded him throughout his career, he was able to make a minor dent in the pop charts regardless. Two of his songs, “Rolene” and “No Chance” pierced the top 50, although in the latter case, just barely. He was better served when his track “X-Ray Vision” became an early MTV staple in 1982.
Martin’s death was officially listed as due to natural causes.
AUDIO: Moon Martin The Ultimate Anthology