Pour a little mai-tai on the sidewalk tonight.
March 4, 2005 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Martin Denny: 1911-2005. Martin Denny mixed his classical music background with an interest in tiki culture to popularize exotica, what we associate with lounge music but with animal sounds instead of vocals and wild instruments like bongos and vibraphones. Through dozens of albums from the 1950s to the Moog sounds of the 1970s (featuring striking women on his album covers), Martin Denny brought the Hawaii life to the bachelor pad. R.I.P. [via BoingBoing]
posted by myopicman (17 comments total)
Wow. I have to say I thought he died years ago. Have a few of his albums, but a friend has a huge collection of them, and he'll be very sad to hear this news.

What always amazed me about people like Denny and Esquivel is how they're seen as this kitsch lounge music when in fact most of it is as mad as a bag of badgers, and way more experimental than what is normally perceived of as Easy Listening.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:50 AM on March 4, 2005

Great guy. I saw him at a concert a few months ago, and he didn't look too well. He was something like 48 when he had his first number one hit!

Pour a little out of the tiki glass.
posted by phatboy at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2005

I was like "Oh, I should totally post that I'm pouring my mai-tai on the sidewalk in his honor" and then once it loads, I look at the title.

Boo! I am unoriginal!

Also, Wow.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:25 AM on March 4, 2005

Sad when anyone dies. But the whole "lounge culture" thing always seemed like a sad affectation to me. "Retro lounge" even more so.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:46 AM on March 4, 2005

OMG! Martin Denny was the coolest, so sad to see this!
posted by hardshoes at 11:52 AM on March 4, 2005

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Mr. Denny perform a couple of years ago at this tiny little tiki bar called La Mariana (out on Sand Island in Honolulu).

It was like having him play in your living room.

Sure, he was old and shaky, but still amazingly supply on the keys.

Besides getting married there, that show was the probably the highlight of the 3 years I spent in Hawai'i.
posted by Relay at 11:54 AM on March 4, 2005

Whoa. I, too, had assumed that Denny has passed away years ago. It was, of course, "Quiet Village" that got me hooked on exotica/lounge/etc, and that tune always makes me feel...tranquil, yet alive. Amazing.

RIP, Martin Denny.
posted by davidmsc at 12:53 PM on March 4, 2005

"But the whole "lounge culture" thing always seemed like a sad affectation to me."

Judging others for their tastes, always seems like a sad affectation to me.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 1:04 PM on March 4, 2005

Not to mention, actually *using* the word "affectation."
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 1:05 PM on March 4, 2005

I think it's safe to say that much of modern music would not be the same without Mr. Denny's music. He pretty much invented "ambient music", before the term was coined, IMHO. So many times has his music turned my bedroom into a tropical paradise...

posted by hellbient at 1:44 PM on March 4, 2005

By the way, Martin Denny's most frequent cover model was Sandy Warner. Miss Warner even sang on an album of her own once, Steven Allen Presents Fair and Warner, which featured very complimentary liner notes by Martin Denny himself.
posted by jonp72 at 2:16 PM on March 4, 2005

This makes me really sad. I love Denny's work, especially the Exotica albums, Primitiva, and Quiet Village. I like to put one of his albums on when it's freezing outside, just to feel a little warmer.

I also agree with ciderwoman and hellbient in that his music was "as mad as a bag of badgers" and very influential. Along with Esquivel, Les Baxter, and Heavenly Sounds in Hi Fi by Ferrante and Teicher, to name a few, his music was very interesting, experimental, and, yes, psychedelic.

R.I.P. Mr. Denny.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:18 PM on March 4, 2005

posted by geekyguy at 1:50 AM on March 6, 2005

*a moment of vibes and jungle bird calls*

He pretty much invented "ambient music", before the term was coined, IMHO.

Give the man his due but that is laying it on a bit way too thick, IMHO. He has a place in history but let's not overstate it.

I will say this, though--that Primitiva album cover was a high point of my pubescence.
posted by y2karl at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2005

Wow. My dad used to put on Exotica to keep my sister and I quiet and still before church on Sundays (so we would wrestle and get dirty)...beautiful stuff!

RIP and thanks.
posted by black8 at 3:37 PM on March 6, 2005

Sad news, he made some great moochin' music.
posted by hippyboy at 10:07 AM on March 7, 2005

well, y2karl, i don't think I was trolling there. The term wasn't coined until the late 70's...if ambient music can be defined as something that sets a mood (I don't buy that it has to be non-melodic), Mr. Denny is right there, IMO. But yeah, Satie and Varese (and others) were long before him. And saying he invented it is overstating it a bit. How about "helped discover it"? I wonder if Eno heard him when he was young? I'd almost bet money on it...

ah, I'm ruining this tribute. hippyboy said it better anyway...although I'd think it more music to make out to than bum money off of people... :)
posted by hellbient at 10:25 PM on March 7, 2005

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