Marty Roberts of Los Angeles lounge duo Marty & Elayne is dead at 89

By Jason Fuller

After performing six nights a week for nearly four decades, Los Angeles musician Marty Roberts has died. He was half of the husband-and-wife duo Marty & Elayne.


The jazz and lounge music world has lost one of its most iconic personalities. Marty Roberts, one half of the married lounge act Marty & Elayne, died last week at 89.


For decades, the duo performed five or six nights a week, Marty on drums and vocals, Elayne on piano and flute.


MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) You can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man – no time to talk.

KELLY: They were fixtures at the Los Angeles bar and restaurant the Dresden Room, where they played an eclectic mix of jazz standards, original numbers and their own twists on pop hits.


MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Staying alive – ah, ah, ah, ah, staying alive.

CHANG: That rendition of “Stayin’ Alive,” a cameo in the 1996 movie “Swingers,” shot them into pop culture stardom. Their daughter, Hali Gillin, says the duo often drew standing-room-only crowds.

HALI GILLIN: They have fans in probably every country. And they would come to America, and that would be one of the stops that they needed to make.

CHANG: And though they may have come for the music, the fans would get plenty of personality, too.

GILLIN: If you were rude and talked a lot while my mom was playing certain songs, she would turn up the synthesizer and teach you that’s not polite (laughter). And my dad – if you talked too much, he would literally get on the mic and say, hey; you don’t have a speaking part in this.

KELLY: Gillin says that frankness was on full display when her mother first met Roberts back in 1970.

GILLIN: My dad – he was a hairdresser before. And so he looked at my mom and basically said, like, I need to trim your hair. Like, you got some split ends (laughter). My mom was like, how rude. But eventually they got past it. And my mom said she knew right when she met him that she was going to marry him.

KELLY: And she did. They married just four months later.


MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Come on and fly with me. Let’s fly. Let’s fly away.

CHANG: Through the decades, the pair has had their share of famous fans. When Frank Sinatra showed up to see them play, Roberts serenaded Sinatra with one of the legend’s own tunes.

KELLY: Marty & Elayne continued to record together until just about a month ago. Marty Roberts died of cancer last Thursday. He was 89 years old.


MARTY AND ELAYNE: (Singing) Come fly with me. Let’s fly. Let’s fly away. (Scatting).

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Adblock test (Why?)