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Cliff Martinez

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  • Born: New York, NY [The Bronx]
  • Years Active: 1980s, 1990s, 2000s
  • Cliff Martinez


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

A regular collaborator of Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh, Cliff Martinez is one of the most successful musicians to have made the transition from rock star to film composer. Born in the Bronx, New York in 1954 but raised in Columbus, Ohio, he moved to California just as the punk movement was gathering pace in 1976. After drumming for the likes of Captain Beefheart, Lydia Lunch, and the Dickies, he was recruited by Red Hot Chili Peppers to replace Jack Irons, who along with Hillel Slovak, had left to concentrate on What Is This? Martinez performed on both their 1984 debut and 1985 follow-up, Freaky Styley, but during the recording sessions for 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, was fired by Anthony Kiedis and Flea, who felt his heart was no longer in the band. Switching his focus to TV/film work, his first composing job on kid's show Pee Wee's Playhouse attracted the attention of Soderbergh, who invited him to score 1989 indie Sex, Lies & Videotape, and later 2000's Oscar-winning Traffic (for which Martinez received a Grammy nomination), 2002's remake of Solaris and 2011's virus drama Contagion. Other credits include Pump Up the Volume, In the Beginning, and The Lincoln Lawyer, video game Spore, and several TV shows fronted by Ted Koppel, but arguably, his most well-received work came from his retro synth pop soundtrack for the Ryan Gosling action film Drive.