1978 in Los Angeles, California
Core '80s Group Members:
- Martha Davis (born January 19, 1951 in Berkeley, California) - Lead vocals, primary songwriter, rhythm guitar
- Guy Perry (born Adrian Peritore on March 20, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York): Lead guitar
- Marty Jourard (born August 25, 1954 in Atlanta, Georgia) - Keyboards, saxophone
- Michael Goodroe (born February 8, 1950 in Albuquerque, New Mexico) - Bass guitar
- Brian Glascock (born July 17, 1948 in England) - Drums, percussion
Actually, The Motels technically formed way back in 1971 in Berkeley, California, even if Davis was the only member of that initial incarnation to be around when the band gained wider attention. Davis stuck with the band through years of personnel shifts and a move to Los Angeles, where it found a niche in the burgeoning punk rock
and new wave
scene of that metropolis. By 1979, The Motels signed for real with Capitol Records, producing a self-titled debut
late that year that failed to make a chart impact but did succeed in introducing the band to a larger audience.
Toward Genuine Pop Success:
The Motels' second LP, 1980's Careful
, performed far better on the U.S. album charts than its predecessor, even if it failed to place any of its singles into the American spotlight. This set the stage for the group's upcoming breakthrough release, although that wouldn't happen without the conquest of more challenging obstacles. Facing record company rejection of its third album as recorded because its commercial potential seemed limited, The Motels ultimately reshaped that record into 1982's All Four One
. This album featured at least two indisputable '80s classics - Top 10 pop single "Only the Lonely"
and the rousing, romantic tune "Take the L."
Further Defining the New Wave:
Between 1982 and 1985, The Motels placed seven singles on the U.S. Hot 100 singles chart, including two Top 10 singles, one of which (the elegant, lovely "Suddenly Last Summer"
) reached No. 1 on the mainstream rock chart as well. During this period, Davis and her band certainly qualified as one of the leading lights not only of the waning new wave genre but also a quintessential version of what melodic mainstream rock aspired to be at this point. This particular thrust of success wouldn't last much longer, but All Four One
and 1983's Little Robbers
legitimately carved a niche for The Motels in a changing music landscape that has never truly faded.
Davis Checks Out for Solo Career:
The Motels' final studio album release, 1985's Shock
, proved reasonably successful and even spawned a moderate hit single in "Shame."
However, the group's increasing focus and reliance on frontwoman Davis became too much for the group's glue to hold together much longer. Her impending solo debut, 1987's Policy
, contained five singles but didn't come close to matching the popularity of The Motels' peak years. Despite a Top 10 hit in Australia, "Don't Tell Me the Time,"
Davis and her band receded into the wisps of nostalgia as the '90s got under way.
Reunions & Continuing Retro Presence:
Since 1997, Davis has continued to perform intermittently with support from various non-vintage band configurations. The only exception to this came in 2004, when the early-'80s core lineup put together a one-off reunion performance for VH-1's Bands Reunited
. As a cancer survivor and one of rock music's most significant if underrated frontwomen of the '80s, Davis remains determined to keep giving fans a taste of her atmospheric songwriting and sultry vocals. Many names of the era are bigger, but The Motels deserve note as a signature American artist of the early MTV