Marty Peters, guitarist, producer, engineer, writer - Performer
BMHOF Class of 2014
Marty Peters has something on his resume that most members of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame don’t have: inventions.
Peters is known as a guitar slinger of great talent and a skilled producer, but also as the inventor of the Slider Instrument Support System, an ergonomically correct strap that has helped tens of thousands of guitarists with back problems keep playing.
But first Peters was a teenage guitar phenom, playing the Bona Vista, Dirty Dick’s Bath House (the original Tralfamadore Café before it was the legendary Tralf!) and the Barrel Head.
He got into rock ‘n’ roll at a young age, attending the original Woodstock festival at age 13, and then seeing Elvis Presley (“the young Elvis, not the fat Elvis,” he says) three weeks later.
“Talk about a sea change. As a kid who wanted to play guitar, that shot me out of a cannon,” he said in an interview. “And I was young enough, but old enough, that got to see the Road, I got to see Shakin’ Smith at the Bona Vista, the Billy BriteBand when they used to pay at the Belle Starr.
“I was certainly a few years under the drinking age. A lot of people were. … I had experiences like playing the Bona Vista and as one of the first people to play at the Tralf. … We’d start playing at 11:30 at night and play until 3:30 or 4.”
After graduating from Lancaster High School in 1974, he headed west to the University of Colorado, and stayed in Colorado for the next 25 years. He gigged constantly, did recording, played at some of the region’s biggest venues – and also was the victim of an accident in which a woman going about 60 mph back-ended his vehicle. The impact was strong enough it ripped the seat out of his car, pulling the bolts from the floor.
The resulting back problems left him with pain from 13 injured vertebrae. At one point in his recovery, he went to a doctor and asked the M.D. about playing guitar.
“He said, ‘Quit playing guitar.’ Those were his actual words,” said Peters. “It made me so angry.
“Little by little I started playing. And I started thinking, ‘How can I make this so I can hold a heavy electric guitar?’ I went to rock climbing stores (to find materials) and put things over both shoulders.
“I came up with a Frankenstein monster of a thing, and I sent a letter to Martin Guitar with a prototype. I didn’t hear anything for about six months, and then one day I went to the post office box and there was a letter from Martin with an order for five gross.”
Peters started out making the straps in his living room, one at a time. Eventually he got to the point where he was making so many that he realized he either had to ship production to China or license it out to somebody in the U.S. He chose the latter option.
“I ran the company for about eight years. I went from making hundreds to thousands,” he said. “I was doing it for about eight years. I saw people wearing them at the Grammies, the Jammies, the Olympics.”
He also invented a keyboard device called the Slider Piano Barre, which simplifies piano microphone placement.
At the same time he was coming up with those pieces, Peters was one of the most active record producers and live music recorders in the Boulder region. He served as live sound and recording engineer for the Tulluride Bluegrass and Rocky Mountain folk festivals, working with artists ranging from Bela Fleck to David Crosby and Ralph Stanley.
During the same period, he also started writing a column for Recording Magazine, a job he continues to this day, making him the longest-tenured columnist in that part of the magazine world.
In 1998, he moved back to Western New York to help with some family health issues – and immediately returned to the music scene.
“That first day I started a project at Audio Magic with Bob Farmer, who I was in my junior high school band with,” he said “From the first week, I was in the studio.”
Since then, he has produced and engineered countless recordings. One was a remaking of Tommy Calandra’s “We’re Gonna Win That Cup” to fit the 1999 Buffalo Sabres mania (and yes, that was the year of “No Goal!”).
Peters worked with legendary drummer (and Hall of Famer) Gary Mallaber on his band In From The Cold’s recording (which also included Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist Jack Sherman and Buffalo singer Maria Sebastian).
Mallaber said he respects Peters’ “ears.”
“Marty’s got a good handle on all of the facets of engineering, plus he’s got a great pair of ears,” said Mallaber. He’s pretty much a world class engineer.”
He produced Tom Stahl’s “Smell the Coffee” CD and joined Stahl’s band as guitarist/music director (eventually recording several more Stahl CDs).
Audio Magic’s Robbie Konikoff said Peters is “an outstanding engineer producer, perhaps the most versatile in Western New York. He’s always the go-to guy for live recordings. He has great intangibles, .the ability to create an optimum environment in the studio for creating the art form of music.”
Today he’s still playing in his own band, the Singlecoils, as well as in Pirate Dreams, in Tommy & the Two Tones and in Randle& the Late Night Scandals.
Bill Moore, who drummed in Pirate Dreams with Peters, said he’s been a great person to play with.
“Marty Peters is a walking wealth of musical knowledge!” Moore said “From all the songs he knows to his ability to break out and jam – and this man is a real talent when he's behind the mixing board and recording. … He’s a pleasure to work with.”
Along the way Peters has worked on numerous benefit recordings and shows, including events for Buffalo Bands for the Homeless, the South Buffalo Food Table, the Sudden Infant Death Foundation, the Hawkwind Animal Foundation, ASPCA and the Roswell Park Foundation.
All along, it has been about music.
“I’ve never been out of the music business longer than the drive down Route 80,” he said.
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