Her voice is unique, unmistakable and timeless – The Los Angeles Times’ Robert Hilburn called her “arguably the most charismatic female performer in rock.” And about the Hollywood Bowl concert in 2012, The Hollywood Reporter wrote: Martha Davis, of the Motels, was still strong in voice and admirably delivered hits like “Only The Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer.”

For Martha Davis, the most important thing has always been the songs she writes. Martha began writing songs at the age of 15. Born and raised in Berkeley, California, she moved to Los Angeles in the early ‘70s, along with the first incarnation of The Motels. The band, Marty Jourard,Jeff Jourard, Michael Goodroe, and Brian Glascock signed to Capitol Records in 1979.

The Motels recorded six records for Capitol. Their self titled debut was greeted with positive critical reviews in 1979 and exploded in Australia on the strength of the #2 Pop single, “Total Control” (which was later covered by Tina Turner for the We Are The World album). In 1981 their sophomore effort, “Careful,” went Top 50. Then, in 1982, the Motels released All Four One; the smash single “Only The Lonely” rocketed into the Top 10, immediately propelled the album to gold status and truly broke The Motels in the United States. The group dominated the music scene and was voted Best Performance for “Only The Lonely” at the 1982 American Music Awards.

1983’s Little Robbers album went gold on the Top 10 single “Suddenly Last Summer” and the second Top 40 hit “Remember The Nights.” In 1985, the Shock album yielded the Top 20 hit, “Shame,” and 1987 saw the release of Martha’s first solo effort, Policy. In 1988, Martha took a sabbatical from the music scene, prompting the question, “where have you been?” “Looking for my sense of humor,” she says. “I seemed to have lost it somewhere around 1984. It’s not a business that one should be in without a sense of humor.” Though constantly writing, Martha left center stage to work on various collaborations with artists including Ivan Neville, Arthur Barrow (Frank Zappa), Jeff Daniel, Kiki Dee, Richard Feldman, to write songs for a new musical for the Civic Light Opera, and author a new musical of her own entitled Rebecca.

Capitol reissued an expanded and remastered edition of the All Four One album, which contained previously unreleased bonus tracks. In the Fall of 2000, The Motels Anthology was released, a first ever double disk of rarities, B-sides, soundtrack cuts as well as live performances. Additionally, Martha Davis had several independent publishing deals, including one with DreamWorks SKG, wrote a children’s album and a jazz album.

In 2005, Martha released a solo record, So The Story Goes. Recording and touring for that record brought on 3 of the current members of the Motels, Eric Gardner, Clint Walsh and Nicholas Johns. The band then recorded the 2008 release This, followed by another Martha solo record, Beautiful Life. More touring brought them to 2012 where original member Marty Jourard once again brought his saxophone and synth skills to the band. Also joining was bass player Brady Wills. Shows included a landmark performance at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, where she and the band shared the bill with The Go-Go’s, Psychedelic Furs and Bow Wow Wow.

2013 proved to be an exciting year for the band, with new recordings, a busy touring schedule in the US, and a return to Australia!! Martha began the year with the honor of performing at the NAMM convention in their “Living Legends” special concert series on their Main Stage with some of the most significant musicians of the 21st century backing her performance. Also a 4th of July headline show as the closing band for the final night of the San Diego/Del Mar County Fair.

The next 2 years brought more touring. 2014 -2015 the most shows since 1985 for the band. Thanks to a new booking agent (Flemming). Also in 2015 the band started working on their newest release. As well as Brady Wills getting married to his now wife Katie on Martha’s Oregon farm.

The new album is highly anticipated, and details will be announced in early 2016.

24 thoughts on “History

  1. Wow…been many yrs and still listen to only the lonely as much as possible…thank you youtube and awesome 80’s on xmradio….wish there was a chance you might tour again in the Nashville area….great venue….still love music and thanks Martha….

  2. Dear Martha,

    I am so excited to hear you are developing a jazz album! Please keep us informed as to when it will be available. I will always love “Change My Mind” on All For One. (I will always love all of your music!) Your lovely, sultry cadence, so nuanced in that song. (No one sings like you of course!). The placement of that song with the others magnified the film noir quality always lurking in a Motels song or album. I was watching Suddenly Last Summer with Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift and I was overwhelmed by how your music has always reminded me of so many classic film noir: “Only the Lonely” – Ava Gardner/Burt Lancaster in The Killers; “Shame” – Jane Greer/Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past; “Counting” – Theresa Wright in Shadow of a Doubt; “Danger” – Geraldine Fitzgerald/John Garfield in Nobody Lives Forever. Thank you Martha Davis for your timeless songwriting and gorgeous voice that have never left me like all great classic story tellers, you have the gift for taking your listeners with you, evoking not just the film noir zeitgeist but all the bittersweet, mesmerizing gradations in your vocals too. Love you!

  3. I’ve loved your music ever since I started listening to your songs in the early 1980s. When the chance came to see you and the band here in Auckland, New Zealand at The Studio, I leapt at the chance. No one was disappointed with your performance that night. I was one of the lucky few who had a front row spot – hey you sound just like you did on the records. I even managed to hold your hand while you were singing too – the envy of my mates and others in the audience.

  4. Martha and the Band. I just re-watched your SNL show from back in 1983 which so happens to be the last time that I saw that performance. You guys nailed it. I was enthralled by you sultry and evocative voice. The sax just melded beautifully. I was blown away and transported back to my beloved 80’s. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

  5. Hey Martha–
    30 years ago today (July 3, 1983) I saw you at the Club Casino in NH. What a show! So memorable I mark it’s anniversary! Thanks for that and all your wonderful music.
    Deb V

    • Make that 31 years ago today! I did a quick rewind in my brain and realized it was ’82. At any rate, when I listen to you, I still feel young and remember all the possibilities.
      I hope to see you in So Cal this summer.

  6. Martha,

    So pleased to see you all still playing and touring. Saw you for the first time at the US Festival so many years ago. Since then it was my Cassettes then CDs now MP3 and Pandora… Still can’t seem to get enough of you guys. Would definately love to see you guys again, but alas have moved from So Cal and now live in Austin. Any possibility of coming here?

    All the best,

    Austin, Tx

    • Love Austin! good place to move… the Motels are long overdue for a Texas hang. Lot’s of great things are happening, including a lot more touring out of Cali. we’ll get there soon. Thanks for the note JC, hope to see you soon…m.

  7. hello martha that good that continue effective a lifetime!!!…I am hearing of your songs from when I was 15 years old, apartir from that moment stops up in the time. Me serious pleasing that has several concerts type retro… here in me country Peru.
    That I burnish to communicate this missive to you prompt answer.
    Thank You… Luis RosaV.

    • Thank you so much Luis… there is a chance we will get to Peru… I’ve never been, but it’s a place I would love to see so I hope it will work out. If it does I will see you there!…m.

  8. Hi Martha,I have loved your song “Don’t tell me the time” since I first heard it on the radio when i was 7 years old back in 1988.I have collected records since i was 10 & I would’nt be without my copy of “Policy”.thanks for bringing me so much enjoyment through this song & I hope this message finds you well.PS-Please come to Australia soon!! From-Peter From Melbourne,Australia.

  9. Hi Martha,
    I saw you perform live at the Hollywood Bowl last weekend and you were fantastic! I grew up listening to your music and it was such a treat to hear you sounding so amazing live! Your band was great too!



  10. I think it’s great that you are on here responding to fans. I’ve been fan since the beginning and was lucky enough to see you live once in Chicago in the 90’s. I still believe that Martha’s voice is one of the best ever.

  11. hi Martha

    thats the trouble when bands sign up to the major record companies, they seem to restrict the writing and producing talents too much!!!! you should do what joe elliott of Def leopard is doing, slightly change your original songs and get them released under a different label!!!!! anyway enough of my rant!!! my address is: 14 West View, Ludgershall, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP18 9NX. Hopefully one day I will get to see you in concert!!!! I was lucky to see Berlin in the 80s when I lived in NZ, as I am a fan of Terri Nunn. take care

    kind regards

    Mark Payne

  12. Thanks Martha for your quick reply, very immpressed. I am going to Canada in a few weeks time with my family, would HMV have a good selection of your latest cds!!!! if not would you know where I could get hold of some!!! as this country do not stock enough Motel cds. I have all your albums in vinyl. but want to update them with your first 4 albums. take care

    Mark Payne

    • Hi Mark, there are new cds available… send me your address I’ll see what I can do… don’t really have any cds of first albums… capitol has not released them, they have been licensed over the year… briefly… bit of a nightmare… let me know…m.

  13. Hi Martha

    I have been a fan of yours since the 80s I lived in NZ then, never had the chance to see the motels live. any chance of you coming to the UK!!! Could you let me know if I can purchase a dvd of the Motels in concert.
    take care


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