AKA Martina Michéle Weymouth
Birthplace: Coronado, CA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Bassist for Talking Heads
Born in California to an American father and a French mother, Martina Weymouth was frequently relocated to different parts of the world during her childhood as a result of her father's duties in the Navy. Her life as a musician was launched at the age of twelve when she became a member of a medieval-themed touring handbell ensemble, with whom she performed at churches, schools and -- on one occasion -- at the New York World's Fair. At the age of fourteen she taught herself to play folk music on the acoustic guitar, but this direction was abandoned later in her high school years, and more than a decade would pass before playing music once again became a major part of her life. In the early 1970s Weymouth enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design, and it was here that she became entangled with fellow student Chris Frantz -- another lapsed musician who was about to take up his drumsticks once again in The Artistics with singer/guitarist David Byrne. Weymouth was a dedicated fan of the noisy ensemble, attending every performance and assisting in the composition of one of their few original numbers, an early version of the song Psycho Killer.
The Artistics dissolved in mid-1974, after which Byrne moved to New York City to concentrate on songwriting; upon receiving their RISD degrees a month later, Weymouth and Frantz followed him there, the three taking up residence together in a loft on the city's Lower East Side. Byrne and Frantz eventually resumed their musical collaboration -- joined shortly afterwards by Weymouth, who took up bass playing duties simply because no one else could be convinced to join. After six months of rehearsal this line-up, under the name of Talking Heads, made an auspicious public debut opening for The Ramones at the Bowery's CBGB club. The fortunes of the band took off quickly enough that all three could dedicate themselves to their music full-time within a year of this first performance, and had secured a record contract with New York-based label Sire Records by the end of 1976. A bit of internal tension was generated when Byrne then insisted that Weymouth audition in order to justify her continued membership, but, with the addition of fourth member Jerry Harrison, the band's popularity continued to surge forward with the subsequent release of their first album Talking Heads: 77 and the single Psycho Killer.
In the remainder of the decade, Talking Heads expanded upon their reputation for audio innovation with the Brian Eno produced albums More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978), Fear of Music (1979), and Remain in Light (1980). During a short break after the release of this last record, Weymouth and Frantz (who had married in 1977) founded the dance-oriented side project Tom Tom Club, issuing a self-titled debut at the end of 1981. Unexpectedly, the single Genius of Love shot to the top of the disco and R&B charts a few months later, pushing the sales of the full-length well beyond what any Talking Heads releases had yet achieved. Work with the full band (and without Eno) continued in 1982, resulting in one of the band's most popular albums Speaking in Tongues (released in 1983); a second Tom Tom Club offering Close to the Bone also materialized that same year (a 3 track EP Under the Boardwalk having surfaced in the interim) but did not manage to repeat the breakaway success of its predecessor.
After three more well-received studio albums (and two films) the dissolution of Talking Heads arrived in 1991; by this time Weymouth and Frantz had already resumed activity as Tom Tom Club, the third and fourth releases -- Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom (1988) and Dark Sneak Love Action (1991) -- being completed before the official announcement concerning the end of their other band had been made. In the early-to-mid 1990s the pair temporarily shifted their partnership away from their own projects and concentrated instead on producing sessions for other performers such as Angelfish, Happy Mondays and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. An attempt at a Talking Heads reunion in 1996 -- scuttled by David Byrne's refusal to participate -- resulted in the short-lived project The Heads, whose sole release found Weymouth, Frantz and Harrison replacing Byrne with a roster of vocalists ranging from Blondie's Debbie Harry to XTC's Andy Partridge. The abbreviated name prompted Byrne to file a lawsuit against his former bandmates, but ultimately an out-of-court settlement was reached allowing for its continued use.
The story of the Talking Heads ultimately concluded on a positive note when the band was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, an event that allowed the four members (joined by past expanded line-up members Steve Scales and Bernie Worrell) to reconcile their differences and present one final public performance. With the arrival of the 00s, Weymouth and Frantz once again resumed work as the Tom Tom Club and released a fifth album titled The Good, The Bad and The Funky (2000). The pair also welcomed the decade by branching out into new territory, adding their talents to the collective of musicians behind the animated-cartoon hip-hop crew Gorillaz.
Sister: Lani Weymouth
Sister: Laura Weymouth
Brother: Loric Weymouth (A&R executive)
Brother: Yann R. Weymouth (architect, m. Lally Weymouth)
Husband: Chris Frantz (m. 18-Jun-1977)
Son: Robin (b. 1982)
Son: Egan (b. 1986)
University: Rhode Island School of Design (1970-1974)
Talking Heads Bassist 1975-1991, 2002
Tom Tom Club Multi-instrumentalist/Vocalist 1981-present
The Heads Bassist/Vocalist 1996
Gorillaz Vocalist 2000-present
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2002 (with Talking Heads)
French Ancestry Maternal
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth (22-Jan-2005) · Herself
True Stories (10-Oct-1986) · Lip-Syncher
Stop Making Sense (24-Apr-1984)
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