Marty Roberts, of famous Dresden Lounge Act ‘Marty & Elayne’, dies
LOS ANGELES, CA — Dresden Room legend Marty Roberts has died of cancer, his daughter announced Tuesday. The 89-year-old spent 35 years entertaining crowds at the Dresden Room as one half of the duo Marty & Elayne.
A Los Angeles institution, the couple rose to fame in the 1996 film “Swingers,” but they had a sequel long before that, becoming known to their celebrity fans. Tom Petty featured them in his video for “Yer So Bad,” and they serenaded Frank Sinatra, Nicolas Cage, Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio.
But it wasn’t their stardom that endeared them to fans. It was their accessibility. In an ever-changing city, the jazzy duo could be found most nights of the week in their matching jumpsuits performing their jazz version of pop hits in Dresden for decades.
“We’re creatures of the night,” Marty told the Los Angeles Times in 2004. “By the time most people finish their Fridays, we’re just getting up.”
Roberts and his wife played at the Dresden Room six nights a week, with Marty on drums and bass and Elayne on piano and flute.
“He had a joke and a smile (the smile is free, he would say!) for everyone he met and was the kindest, most dedicated man in the world,” his daughter Hali Gillin wrote on Facebook. . “My mother and I are devastated by her loss and no one can ever take her place.”
Roberts met his wife in Los Angeles in 1970 when Elayne was looking for a drummer, she told ABC News. They married four months later and began performing in a combo at the Melody Room on the Sunset Strip. They recorded with LA jazz musicians Jack Sheldon, Med Flory, Red Callender and Conte Candoli. They played venues in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
It was at Gene Autry’s club in Palm Springs that Roberts was invited to perform for Sinatra, his idol.
“The owner said Frank had to sit in front, with all his entourage, and Marty, because he sings like Frank, said, ‘You really embarrassed me!’ Marty adored him. But Marty has guts, he was never afraid of anything,” Elayne Roberts told The Times.
Roberts was born on April 10, 1932 in New York. He and Elayne have been married for 52 years. A heart attack and the pandemic silenced their act in Dresden, but it didn’t stifle their creativity.
The couple have been recording music from their Los Angeles home throughout the pandemic.
“We recorded a whole bunch of stuff up until a month ago, and it sounded great,” Elayne told The Times.
On a date yet to be determined, the commemoration will take place in the Dresden Hall.
Roberts is survived by his wife, daughter and granddaughter, Destiny.
City News Service contributed to this report.