Martin Fierro 1942-2008
Saxophonist Martin Fierro passed away yesterday afternoon after a recent diagnosis of cancer. Meester, as he was widely and affectionately known, was born in 1942 and began playing rock and roll in his teen years, before turning towards jazz in the mid-60s. By the late sixties, he was living in Northern California where his bright, aggressive performances led him to work with some of the mainstays of the Bay Area scene, including Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead. It was there that he also famously joined forces with Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders to form the mid seventies psychedelic soul group Legion of Mary, whose performances are often ranked among the best of Garcias solo gigs by fans.
Fierro was also a core member of another Bay Area staple, Zero, along with drummer Greg Anton and guitarist Steve Kimock. Although Zero slipped from the scene in the late 90s, recent years found Fierro and his mates playing a number of short tours and festival appearances, with GD family members Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay and Melvin Seals joining the ranks of the band. He was also a steady collaborator with other groups including the Dark Star Orchestra, String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band. Martin was known not only for his horn work, but for his wild and lively sense of humor and the slew of corny jokes hed tell from the stage, including the oft-repeated plea that Zero fans make sure to pick up a pair of official band underwear at the merch table. Remember, wear Zero underpants.