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Martha and the Muffins

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Toronto, Canada (1977 – present)

Martha and the Muffins were a Canadian new wave synth pop band in the 1970s and 1980s.

The group’s initial line-up came together in Toronto in 1977, when David Millar asked his fellow Ontario College of Art student Mark Gane to help him start a band. Millar recruited Martha Johnson to play keyboards; Johnson brought in a friend from high school, Carl Finkle, to play bass; and Gane’s brother Tim Gane signed on as the drummer. With Millar and Mark Gane as guitarists, and Johnson as lead vocalist, this is the line up that debuted at an Ontario College of Art Hallowe’en party in October 1977.

They chose the name “Martha and the Muffins” to distance themselves from the aggressive names adopted by many punk bands of the era. According to Mark Gane: “We decided to use it as a temporary name until we could all agree on something better.” The name ended up sticking for the next 7 years.
Saxophone player Andy Haas began performing with the band early 1978 (initially as a guest artist). Founding member Millar left the band shortly thereafter, preferring to work as the band’s sound engineer for live shows. He was replaced by Martha Ladly, who had attended high school with the Ganes. She became the group’s second keyboardist/vocalist named Martha, although Martha Johnson remained the group’s primary lead singer.

In 1978, they released their first independent single, “Insect Love”. This and a demo tape recorded in June 1978 quickly garnered them a recording deal with the DinDisc offshoot of Virgin Records.

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