The Marketts

Gary: “When I was growing up in the late Fifties, there was a form of Music that was very popular, called Instrumentals.  They do not exist anymore and that’s sad. Some great musicians and groups we able to gain popularity and notoriety, due to this form of music.

[I found listening to instrumentals quite enjoyable, having an appreciation for patterns of melody, textures of chords, rythms and grooves – and all without having to think about meaning of lyrics, which sometimes made no sense – RS]

  In the early Sixties, there was this instrumental group from Hollywood California…

The Marketts

1.  Balboa Blue/ Liberty/ 61/62/ #48
2.  Surfer’s Stomp/ Liberty/ 55401/  February 1962/ #31
3A.  Out of Limits/ Warner 5391/ Dec/Jan 63/64/ #3
3B. Bella Dalena/ Warner 5391/ 
4.  Batman Theme/ Warner 5696/ February 1966/ #17

The Marketts are sometimes classified as a Surf group because of their hit instrumental “Out of Limits,” one of the last big Surf singles, which made #3 in early 1964. In reality, they were something of an all-purpose contemporary instrumental group with elements of Surf, Rock, Pop, and even Easy Listening. The “Marketts” were not really a band per se, but a fluid collection of Los Angeles session musicians, working under the direction of producer Joe Saraceno.

Although Saraceno himself did not play or arrange anything on the Markett’s records, or even write all of the material, he was sharp enough to latch onto the Surf craze in 1962 for one of the earliest instrumental Surf hits, “Surfer’s Stomp,” which made the Top 40 on Liberty in 1962. While working at Liberty, he also produced the Ventures for a time, and the influence of the Ventures’ cleanly picked guitar lines is very evident on “Out of Limits” and some other Marketts tracks.

With their blend of surfy guitar leads, film soundtrack horns, and spooky organ, the Marketts’ sound is best described not as Surf, but as rock-influenced instrumental Pop with a futuristic (by early-’60s standards) touch. Many of their songs seemed to be doing their best to evoke space travel and science fiction flicks, sometimes with the help of what sounds like a Theremin. They could be said to have filled the void between Surf music and space age Pop, which is not a criticism; their music is not terribly substantial, but it is fun, and has a pretty good groove.

After “Out of Limits,” the Marketts would enter the Top 20 one more time with the “Batman Theme” in early 1966, and release records as late as 1977. Saraceno, in addition to his work with the Marketts and the Ventures, would also produce Bobby Vee, the Sunshine Company, Martin Denny, and many other acts.~ Richie Unterberger

Outer Twilight?

Our friend, Bill [July 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm], raised an interesting comparison between the TV theme for The Twilight Zone vs the opening measures of Outer Limits.

Twilight Zone Riff vs. Outer Limits Riff


9 responses to “The Marketts

  1. love it……just growing up in the late 50’s and marrying in 1960…….In 1961 first son born…..always loved this beat and sound…….tks again Gary………….

    • Cheryl Chalfant

      Been trying for 52 years to find a recording of Miami’s Blue, my fried just found it yesterday. I have been playing it over and over. Would like to know the words also as my own recollection is a bit spotty.

  2. I have always wanted to know more about The Marketts after I got their hit single “Out Of Limits” way back in 1963. I was curious to know which member of the group played lead guitar, who was on organ or piano, who played the French horn and saxophone. The B side called “Bella Dalana” has a great saxophone part. The same to an earlier hit called “Balboa Blue”. Which member played sax? I did a bit of research and found some interesting facts:

    The Marketts were formed in 1960 and the founder of the group was guitarist Michael Z. Gordon. The only other member I could find was drummer Randy Viers, the others in this 5 piece group are a mystery. It was about then that Gordon wrote a tune called “Surfer’s Stomp”, and he took it to producer Joe Saraceno. He liked it and said he would produce it, but he decided to use studio musicians also to record it. Mainly because he didn’t think The Marketts were good enough to do it, and they were forced to played a minor roll during the session.

    In 1963, Gordon wrote “Out of Limits” and went back to Saraceno for production and he agreed to record it. According to the American Federation of Music union contract, it was 18th, September 1963. The recoding studio was Radio Recorders at 1441 North McCadden Place Los Angeles. The session was from 2PM – 5PM. Again, studio musicians were called and in steps “The Wrecking Crew.”

    Russell Bridges (Leon Russell) – organ (leader of the session)

    Hal Blaine – drums

    Bill Hinshew – French Horn

    Authur Briegleb – French horn

    Jack Nitzsche – saxophone / piano (Arranger)

    John Kelson – saxophone

    Steven Kreismen – saxaphone / percussionist

    Bill Pitman – guitar

    Tommy Tedesco – guitar

    Glen Cambell – guitar

    Clifford Hils – bass

    Ray Pohlman (arranger)

    Songs on the contract to record are: Outer Limits, Bella Dalana, Makaha and Twilight City. BTW, The title “Outer Limits” had to be changed later to “Out Of Limits” because of legal reasons. As much as I could find out, it looks like the band members of The Marketts weren’t even there at the recording session. Apparently, things did not go too well with this session because Jack Nitzsche, who was the arranger, changed the bridge of “Out Of Limits” with another song. Michael Gordon was furious with this, and had a big argument with Saraceno who wanted to leave it as it was. Gorden demanded another session and got his way. For the second session he used the arranger Al Capps, who got it right according to Gordon. A strange thing is, Ray Pohlman is listed as the arranger on the “Out Of Limits / Bella Dalana 45.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of the AFM contract for this second session. Exactly the same studio musicians from the Wrecking Crew may not have been there. If they were, I would say those that recorded “Out Of Limits” would have been: Leon Russell – organ, Hal Blaine – drums, Bill Hinshew – French Horn, Authur Briegleb – French horn, John Kelson – saxophone, Tommy Tedesco – lead guitar, Clifford Hils – bass. Steven Kreismen could have done the percussion part which sounds like maracas. Pitman and Cambell played rhythm guitar.

    On Bella Dalana, Leon Russell – piano, Hal Blaine – drums, John Kelson – lead saxophone part, Steven Kreismen – saxophone, Tommy Tedesco – lead guitar, Bill Hinshew – French Horn, Authur Briegleb – French horn, Clifford Hils – bass. The rest of the guys did the hand claps or rhythm parts.

    Bottom line. The Wrecking Crew did all the recordings, and The Marketts were more or less just a cover band that went out on the road and played these recordings, and had their name stamped on the 45’s and LP’s that the general public went out and bought not knowing who was behind it all.

  3. Russ, Any chance of putting “Bella Dalena” in the playlist above please? It was the B side to Out of Limits.

  4. There was a nice sax melody in Bella Dalena.Thanks for the suggestion, Mr. Bill. It is now included.

  5. Thanks, Russ.

    Back in 1963, The Marketts (who had the 45 “Outer Limits” in the charts ) were threatened with a lawsuit by the Columbia Broadcasting System who owned, and were screening, The Twilight Zone TV series. At the same time, “The Outer Limits” sci-fi TV series was running in competition via the American Broadcasting Company. The Marketts released the 45 under the Warner Bros. label, and Warner backed down and renamed the instrumental to “Out Of Limits” to appease CBS. Many were released with the old name but are now high-priced collectors items. Here is a photo of the 2 records:


    Michael Gordon, who wrote “Outer Limits”, must have seen the TV series and was influenced by the title. He no doubt was influenced by “The Twilight Zone” TV theme opening guitar riff. But he changed the sequence and also a note after some bars. Many people think it is the same riff, but it is not.

    I think they should have fought the lawsuit. The riff is different thus does not breach copyright, and the 45 was called “Outer Limits”; not “The Outer Limits. That is if CBS thought it was advertising the ABC show and using their theme.

    • Fascinating stuff, Bill, about possible copyright infringement.

      Any casual listener without musical training may have thought they sounded the same (at least the first four measures). See my closing paragraph “Outer Twilight?” for this post (above).

  6. Pingback: The Mar-Kets/Marketts: The Wrecking Crew Strikes Again | Oldies Music Nut

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.