Ray Martinez

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The fine British guitarist Ray Martinez has divided his career between playing in bands and session work, earning a reputation as one of the brighter lights in the progressive rock glow and eventually…
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The fine British guitarist Ray Martinez has divided his career between playing in bands and session work, earning a reputation as one of the brighter lights in the progressive rock glow and eventually developing expansive studio skills in arranging and production. Up until the early '70s he was pretty much only known as a local musician in Leicester, but this all changed due to a highway breakdown endured by one of the bands he was most devoted to, Spring. Members of this group such as vocalist Pat Moran and drummer Pick Withers also became famous on the British rock scene, continuing to collaborate off and on with Martinez as the years progressed.

All of that happened after and because of an evening when the Spring touring van collapsed on the way home from a gig in Cardiff, Wales. Along came Kingsley Ward, the owner of a recording studio in the area and the first fellow who decided to stop and help the stranded combo. Ward would later recall in interviews that he had spent months wandering the country looking for new talent, only to finally find the group of his dreams "in a broken down truck in my own home town". One detail Ward was particulary fond of was the group's use of the mellotron. Indeed, listeners fixated with this strange electronic instrument invariably find themselves sipping at the Spring discography.

The band's first self-titled release on the Neon label was produced by Gus Dudgeon of Elton John fame. It turned out to be the sole Spring release, although members of the group's cult insist there is a full second album that was never released. Listeners were given a peep into the project when three tracks were added to a reissue collection in the '90s.

Martinez concentrated on session guitar playing after the Spring went dry in 1972. His discography includes work on the interesting solo projects of Country Joe and the Fish lead guitarist Barry Melton and the folk rock recordings of Tim Rose. He even sings some back-up on Robert Plant solo efforts such as the hit "Big Log", which one underground cartoonist insists is a song about a terd. The stream of studio calls did not prevent the guitarist from wading around in band waters, however. He played in Airwaves, another '70s rock band whose debut effort was produced by former bandmate Moran. In 1985 he joined the classic rock aggregationShowaddywaddy on lead guitar, remaining with that group for a decade before splintering off into another combo, The Teddys. This band was mostly heard around the Leicester area, Martinez dropping out in the fall of 2000.