Music has been a constant love affair in Rex Martin’s life. Growing up on the westside of Indianapolis, he spent hours at his grandmother’s 1907 Steinway learning piano fundamentals and creating his own works, encouraged by his mother to not copy others’ music, but to play his own songs. As a boy, Rex’s musical interests were diverse: listening to musical theater and classical music with his family, as well as learning traditional and folk music he picked up during his frequent travels to the southwest as a teenager. Like many baby boomers in the 60s, Rex quickly became mesmerized with the ever-evolving rock music scene in its many forms, and was a huge fan of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Byrds, and Beach Boys.
While a student at Purdue University in the early 70’s, Rex could frequently be found improvising on the piano at the Memorial Union and Stewart Center. Tapping into his classical roots, he played guitar in the Experimental Music Ensemble group, and sang in the University Choir. As for Rex’s passion for rock music, the college years increased his discovery of more diverse rock sounds especially while working at a local West Lafayette record store.
It would be decades later before Rex returned to school to complete his Master of Musical Composition from Butler University in 1999 under the guidance of composer Michael Schelle. For his thesis, he composed a piece for full orchestra in the classical tone poem style. “MGY 04141512” was a musical interpretation of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
Following college, he and former spouse, Joyce, started Wonderwall, a popular retail record store located on Indianapolis’ eastside. This gave Rex an avenue to eat, drink and breathe in the ever-transitioning music styles with each working day; the store operated from 1973 until 1983. It was during the late 70’s with the birth of New Wave music that more local musicians began starting bands which captured that novel sound, and the seed was planted. Both Rex and Joyce wanted to be a part of this budding Indianapolis music scene.
Logo by Jan Martin
In the early ‘80’s, Rex was asked to join the newly-formed band, The Positions fronted by popular Indianapolis songwriter Randy King, while Joyce became lead singer for the mostly all-female band, Lip Service; both bands had a loyal following, and reaffirmed Rex and Joyce’s love for performing. However, with frequent schedule conflicts, balancing the care of two young daughters, and the desire to perform their own original music, Rex and Joyce realized that it made sense simply to join forces and form a band of their own. Their first effort was the band, The Obvious, and then a year later, Abstractions. Over the next six years, these popular bands kept them busy with performing, songwriting, recording, and band promotion.
Following the Abstractions years, Rex went back to his classical roots, releasing “The Wedding Collection,” CD’s which he composed and arranged for a string quartet, and sold nationwide as an alternative musical offering for wedding ceremonies. Seeking to further enhance his musical knowledge in the area of classical composition, during the ‘90’s Rex returned to taking formal piano lessons and audited undergraduate music history and theory classes before pursuing his Masters Degree in Musical Composition.
In the early 2000’s, Rex teamed up with several former members of The Positions, performing classics and nuggets from radio hits of the 1960’s. Now named The Reverberators, they played the local Indy club scene, resurrecting the energy and creativity of the period.
As Rex fervently continued with his songwriting, he was eager to transition to performing primarily original music once again, and formed the band, 2B Stainless (previously Moon Rocks) in 2010. With 2B Stainless, he was reunited with many of his fellow musicians from the Obvious and Abstractions days. In 2015, the band released the CD entitled “Out of the Woodwork.” This work allowed Rex to finally record many of his decades-old favorites and newer creations since the inception of the band. Unfortunately, with a variety of health concerns among members, the group disbanded around 2018.
Songwriting and performing with the choir at his beloved All Souls Unitarian Church in Indy continue to occupy most of Rex’s time these days, and as such, he will be coming out with a new CD of original work in 2023.