By Devon “Doc” Wendell
I have the freedom the do whatever I choose on this site and I’m loving every moment of it. There is no way I can talk about music, life, and spirituality without talking about Marty Grebb. He is like a second father to me and is without a doubt the most genuinely spiritual person I’ve ever known.
Marty is a legend, to say the least. He’s played with, written for, and arranged some of the most incredible music with everyone from Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Eric Clapton, Etta James, Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, The Buckinghams, The Fabulous Rhinestones and hundreds, maybe thousands more. Marty’s abilities as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, keyboards, bass, saxophone) are second to none. There’s love in every note and nuance he plays or sings because there’s love in everything this man does.
I started talking to Marty on the phone many years ago during one of the bleakest periods of my life. Death and insanity were at the foot of my door on a daily basis. A mutual friend suggested I call Marty and we’ve been close friends ever since. I needed someone to help steer me away from the darkness with love and kindness and that’s what Marty gave me and continues to give me. Now I am able to reciprocate.
One of the greatest experiences of my musical career took place at Melrose Music studio in 2010. I was in a band with John M. King and drummer Sean Bilodeau. We made a terrific album called Cinders Still Burnin’ with David Williams and were doing some phenomenal gigs in Hollywood at the time. We had come up with this funky instrumental while rehearsing for a show at The Viper Room and decided to record it but it needed something more. I asked Marty if he’d add some juicy Hammond B3, organ to it since he’s one of the finest B3 players on Earth. He simply said “Sounds cool”. He came down to the studio, gave me a hug and just laid down the most soulful B3 and Wurlizer tracks imaginable.
We didn’t have to speak. We warmed up by playing some of Miles Davis So What and smiled like two kids in a candy store. No words were needed. We all recorded this track live in the studio and Marty locked in and gave it some powerful texture and depth. We did one take, maybe two. I’ve been in the studio with guys like Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Chuck Rainey, and Paul Griffin and there’s this very fast magic that happens with cats like that and so it was with Marty Grebb. That dedication and love takes the music to a place larger than you could ever imagine.
Other times, Marty and I have done live radio broadcasts together and then would go for long drives around Los Angeles listening to Miles, ‘Trane, and Ahmad Jamal. he’s always there when I need to be properly grounded, which is quite a lot of the time. We musicians think and speak a different language than the average civilian and we get right to the heart of the matter the second we speak on the phone or see each other.
I’m happy to know Marty’s out there right now playing the music of his old comrades The Band with The Weight. He’s still touching people’s hearts and opening their eyes to a better way of life. This piece is long in coming. Why now? Well, I just learned that Marty Grebb is engaged to his sweetheart Bridget Sweeney so I decided to send them this as an early wedding present. I am so happy for the both of them and so blessed by the man I often lovingly refer to as “Saint Marty” in every way possible.