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November 26, 2014

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R.I.P. local musician and scene mainstay Tommy Marth

He recorded and toured with The Killers — and was a friend to many around town

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Tommy Marth, in a photo taken from Facebook.

Las Vegas' musical community reacted with shock and sadness Monday, as news that scene mainstay Tommy Marth had died early that morning spread across social media.

Marth, a saxophonist who played on The Killers' second and third albums—2006's Sam's Town and 2008's Day & Age—and toured with the band after the release of the latter, also played on albums by The Big Friendly Corporation and Black Camaro and served in Halloween Town's live lineup for a time.

Marth was also known through his work in a variety of roles at local music venues over the years, including the Freakin' Frog, Revolution Lounge, the Royal Resort and the Hard Rock Hotel. Since November, the Chaparral High and UNLV grad had been the Hard Rock's nightlife marketing manager. No cause of death has been reported. Marth was 33.

"I'm just trying to make sense of things right now and help some people who aren't doing very well," local musician Ryan Pardey said. "He was one of the most talented people in our community and one of my closest friends since we were 18."

In place of its weekly podcast, local band The Big Friendly Corporation — which features Marth's older brother Ryan and younger sister Melissa — posted a Big Friendly song featuring Tommy's saxophone ("Heaven's on Your Side") on its website , along with comments from Big Friendly member Timothy Styles: "Tommy Marth was actually the first Marth I ever met. He and I were friends back in high school, when he had a full head of hair. It's just been a sad, sad day ... A stand-up guy, a totally great guy and I miss him very much."

The Killers tweeted: "Last night we lost our friend Thomas Marth. Our prayers are with his family. There's a light missing in Las Vegas tonight. Travel well, Tommy."

"I'm not sure it's hit me yet," said longtime friend Corlene Byrd, a local musician and photographer. "He was an amazing person. He was one of the easiest people to be silly with." Byrd remembered Marth's amused reaction after she told him she'd joined a Tommy Marth Facebook fanclub on the advice of a Killers fan in Italy.

Local musician Jackson Wilcox first met Marth at the Frog, where Marth worked the soundboard. "He was basically the first person that cared about making us sound good," Wilcox said. "Those were some of [A Crowd of Small Adventures'] earliest shows, and that was a big deal for us. He was a cool guy, very approachable."

Promoter James Woodbridge thought back over the many times Marth lent a hand to Downtown music festival Neon Reverb. "He was always trying to figure out ways to help the festival and help the scene. He had even reached out to the festival about having some element of it at the Hard Rock."

Radio DJ Donald Hickey said he'll remember "the million conversations" he had with Marth. "Even after a couple of drinks, you could have very sensible conversations with him about music, politics, food — he loved talking about food. He's one of the people that's why I never left Las Vegas."

DJ Aurajin, who graduated from Chaparral one year before Marth, called today's news "a blow to the gut. He's always represented Chaparral, and I've always been happy for that. We've known each other for so long ..."

Marth is survived by his parents and siblings.

This story first appeared in Sun sister publication Las Vegas Weekly.

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  1. RIP Tommy!