Marty Roberts of Iconic Los Angeles Lounge Act “Marty & Elayne” at The Dresden Dies at the Age of 89


Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Los Angeles has lost a cultural icon with the death of Marty Roberts of “Marty and Elayne,” who died on January 13th at the age of 89. His death was announced by family members in a Facebook post January 18th.

For decades the duo served as the house band at The Dresden Room restaurant and cocktail bar in Loz Feliz, performing a mix of jazz standards and campy disco send-ups.

Director Doug Liman helped expose the entertaining act to the rest of the world by featuring them in his 1996 film “Swingers,” featuring Vince Vaughn and the film’s writer, actor Jon Favreau.  Instantly The Dresden Room lounge became a must-stop hipster mecca for visitors to Los Angeles wanting to experience retro martini lounge culture.

Roberts grew up in the Bronx and Brooklyn in New York and moved to Los Angeles where he met and married his musical partner Elayne.  They had been performing regularly – usually 5 nights a week – at The Dresden for over 38 years.  Marty played drums and bass and Elayne keyboards and vocals, with a host of guest musicians sitting in over the years.  A popular feature of their Dresden act was inviting half-drunken participants to make requests and join in on the crooning.

Marty & Elayne’s act started out sort of underground – a sort of speakeasy-whispered-secret known only to the coolest of Los Angeles nightlife denizens.  Director David Lynch, actor Nicolas Cage, writer/director/singer Seth MacFarlane and several other Hollywood celebrities were known to quietly hang out at the Dresden and gradually, inevitably word got as people began discovering the cool vibe that was happening on North Vermont Avenue.

After “Swingers,” Angelenos and tourists alike lined up around the block to drink martinis and join in on the “Marty and Elayne experience.”  Soon Marty and Elayne were were jamming with actress Julia Roberts and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, featured in ABC’s “The Bachelor: Listen To Their Heart,” and Tom Petty gave them a cameo in his music video “Yer So Bad.”

Marty & Elayne’s act consisted of jazz standards popularized by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington, but it was often their straight-faced pop-culture covers that brought the martini drinkers to their feet.

Here’s their take on the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” – a house-favorite and most-requested song:

And here’s the scene in “Swingers” where Vince Vaughan and Jon Favreau’s characters enter the Dresden to the same “Stayin’ Alive” – a cameo that put Marty and Elayne on the cultural map:

 

Here’s a video clip taken by Instagram user @rockabillychick with Marty doing a cover of “Summer Wind” popularized by Sinatra and others.

 

R.I.P. Marty. 🍸



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