Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14: comedian, banjo player extraordinaire & “singer” Steve Martin- “King Tut” – is 68-years-old today.

Stephen Glenn "Steve" Martin was born August 14, 1945 in Waco, Texas and raised in Inglewood, California, and later in Garden Grove, California, Martin's first job was at Disneyland from 1955–58.

During his free time he frequented the Main Street Magic shop, where e had mastered several of the tricks and illusions, and took a paying job at the Magic shop in Fantasyland in August. There he perfected his talents for magic, juggling, and creating balloon animals.

After high school, Martin attended Santa Ana Junior College, taking classes in drama and English poetry. In his free time, he teamed up with friend and Garden Grove High School classmate Kathy Westmoreland to participate in comedies and other productions at the Bird Cage Theatre. He joined a comedy troupe at Knott's Berry Farm.

In 1967, he landed a writing job on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Head writer Mason Williams. Williams initially paid Martin out of his own pocket. Along with the other writers for the show, Martin won an Emmy Award in 1969, aged 23. He also wrote for John Denver, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. Martin's first TV appearance was on The Steve Allen Show in 1969.

Martin started playing the banjo when he was around 17 years of age by taking 33 rpm bluegrass records and slow them down to 16 rpm and tune his banjo down, so the notes would sound the same. Martin was able to pick out each note, and perfect his playing.

Martin also received help in learning how to play from John McEuen, who later joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Martin did his stand-up routine opening for the band in the early 1970s. He had the band play on his hit song, "King Tut," being credited as "The Toot Uncommons" (as in Tutankhamun).

The banjo was a staple of Martin's 1970s stand-up career, and he periodically poked fun at his love for the instrument. On the Comedy Is Not Pretty! album he included an all-instrumental jam, titled "Drop Thumb Medley," and played the track on his 1979 concert tour.

His final comedy album, The Steve Martin Brothers (1981), featured one side of Martin's typical stand-up material, with the other side featuring live performances of Steve playing banjo with a bluegrass band.

In 2009, Martin released his first all-music album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo with appearances from stars such as Dolly Parton. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2010.

Martin made his first appearance on The Grand Ole Opry on May 30, 2009. In 2010, Martin created the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, an award established to reward artistry and bring greater visibility to bluegrass performers.

For more about Steve, visit his Website at –

Crow: New Songs for the Five String BanjoComedy Is Not Pretty!


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