It is with great sadness that the family of Martin Joseph “Marty” Grebb announce his passing on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, at the age of 74.
He will be deeply missed by his daughters Anna Grebb and Nika Kitahara and husband Mickey; step-daughters Leigh Perrin and Bridget Gardner and husband Michael; and their mother Lolli Nadeau; son Chris Lessner and wife Janet; seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; sister April Grebb Malley; nieces and nephews Corey Malley and wife Austyn, Emily Grebb Malley, Lauren Siedor and husband Brian, Kristin Malley; and his extensive AA family that supported him during his 34-year sobriety.
Marty, a lifelong and professional multi-instrumentalist, was born and raised in a musical family in Chicago. His father, Harry Grebb, was an accomplished saxophone player, big band leader and music teacher. His mother, Armella Kucik Grebb, was a homemaker and piano teacher. From a young age, Marty showed great talent. He began playing the saxophone at the age of eight. From there, he also mastered the keyboard, guitar, bass, percussion, vocals and more. His ability to play so many instruments at an expert level was unique. He rose to national fame as a member of the sunshine-pop band The Buckinghams from 1966 to 1968. But his musical contributions went far beyond that. In the early ‘80s, he played in the rock band Chicago and was in Bonnie Raitt’s band off-and-on from the middle ‘70s to the early ‘90s. He wrote the song “Breaking Point” on Eric Clapton’s double-platinum album, “Journeyman.” And he performed with musical giants Leon Russell, The Band, Elton John, BB King, Willie Nelson, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Roseanne Cash, Taj Mahal, Levon Helm, Rufus Wainwright, The Weight Band, Vince Gill and Ivan Neville, among others. He appeared with various acts on television over the years including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Tonight Show, The Jerry Lewis Show, The Merv Griffin Show, Rock ‘N Roll Tonite and Saturday Night Live. Marty produced several solo albums: “Smooth Sailin’” featuring many of the great artists he worked with throughout his life, “High Steppin’” and four unreleased albums, including a solo gospel album, which are his last recordings.
Marty’s spirituality permeated everything he did, especially when singing gospel and the blues with his soulful voice. He had a seemingly endless supply of love for his friends and family. He and his music will live in our hearts forever.
A Celebration of his Life will be held at Calimigos Beach Club on March 14 from 3-6 p.m. Limited on-site parking.