Ralph Marterie, (born as Ralph Martire) 24 December 1914, Accerra, near Naples, Italy, d. 10 October 1978, Dayton, Ohio, USA., was a musician, arranger and one of the last of the big-band leaders who was to enjoy consistent commercial success.
While Marterie was still a child his parents emigrated to the USA, where his father joined the orchestra of the Chicago Civic Opera. Ralph was still a teenager when he started playing trumpet with Danny Russo's Oriole Orchestra. He went on to play in local theatres and with other bands in Chicago, which was at that time the country's largest musical centre outside New York. Consequently, Marterie never had to leave the city to find work, joining the NBC staff orchestra where he played under conductors such as Percy Faith and André Kostelanetz. During World War II Marterie led a US Navy band, then after the war he returned to Chicago as a leader with ABC radio.
His big opportunity came when Mercury Records signed him in 1951, and gave the band a big build up. It is interesting to note that Ralph formed the band at the end of the big band era. Still, other leaders were willing to give the band-leading business a try. Ralph's new band debuted in 1951, the same year that Billy May organized his big band. The following year, 1952, saw the start of the Sauter-Finegan orchestra. In 1953 Les and Larry Elgart formed their short lived band, while, in the mid 50's Maynard Ferguson brought his band to fruition.
Marterie toured with his band throughout the 1950s, appearing at Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook on the East Coast as well as The Hollywood Palladium on the West Coast. At times, Bill Walters, Janice Borla, and Lou Prano, were vocalists. They had a radio show sponsored by the Marlboro Cigarette Company. They appeared on WGN's "The Cavalcade of Bands" television show. After Mercury Records, the orchestra recorded for United Artists and for Musicor.
He did not achieve instant success but in 1952 the band spent 10 weeks in the US charts with "Caravan", earning a second Gold Disc the following year with "Pretend". His version of "Crazy, Man, Crazy" reached #13 on the Billboard jockey chart and #11 on Cashbox in June, 1953. is album and singles output varied between swing standards, novelties and pop instrumentals that highlighted his trademark of trumpet and guitar voiced together (compare his temporary partnership with guitarist/musical director Al Caiola on a cover version of "Acapulco 22"). There were moderate hits with "Guaglione", "Skokiaan" and "Tequila", which were successful enough to maintain his reputation and keep him working through changing fashions in pop music. Marterie was still touring with a band until his death in Dayton, where he had just played a one-nighter in October 1978.
The daughters of Ralph Marterie held onto his music library and personal memorabilia for many years, but in late 2001 placed an ad in International Musician, offering more than 100 scores written for his band, in lots of 10 at $700 each. Then, in January 2005, scores and other personal items were listed on Ebay with a buy-it-now price of $2,500, then re-listed in March, with a starting price of $2,200. Other memorabilia is in the hands of private collectors. (Info from various sources, mainly Oldies.com)