1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

Bleep: Slaughter on Synth Avenue (1981)

Bleep's 1981 album, Space Doors (Clubbo Records)

THE ’80s WERE WAY DORKIER than you might remember: Turquoise tights and big-shouldered blazers. Poppers and greyhounds on the dance floor. And Bleep’s cheerfully perverted “Rubber Lover” whipping clubbers into a hopping, bopping frenzy.

But behind Bleep’s new-wave posturing there’s a tragic tale of ambition, self-loathing, and ketchup. Driven by a desperate need to be taken seriously, Bleep singer Martin Jarrow was ultimately undone by the sheer silliness of his best-known song.

Fortunately, those with fewer metaphysical pretensions can wallow guilt-free in the tongue-twisting lewdness of “Rubber Lover.” It’s easy to hear why the song was a club favorite from Mykonos to Melbourne, guaranteeing its inclusion in ’80s music compilations for decades to come.


“Rubber Lover”

“Space Doors”

Bleep lyrics and credits


Sometimes pop music is more than a pretty tune and a catchy face. In these rare cases, an artist’s music and message can serve as a cultural catalyst — a bonfire of artistic purity and truth around which the forces of social change gather to dance out the old and sing in the new.

Martin Jarrow of Bleep (Clubbo Records)

Few artists have yearned for bonfire status as passionately as Martin Jarrow, lead singer and songwriter for the ’80s synth-pop trio Bleep. But despite all Jarrow’s earnest posturing, most music fans remember the group only for their trivial, benignly risqué dance hit “Rubber Lover.”

So did Jarrow fail in his quest? Some would say that Bleep’s tortuous career did inspire profound socio-spiritual change, though not in the global sense Jarrow had envisioned. Either way, Martin himself can’t contribute to the debate. And not for rock’s usual death-or-disability reasons.

Martin Jaruzelski was born to a working-class Pittsburgh family in 1958. Though his mother nurtured his artistic nature, his father exhorted him to focus on more practical pursuits. An excellent student, Martin won a scholarship to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon University. But when Jaruzelski senior learned that his son was majoring not in civil engineering but drama, he disowned the boy.

Undeterred, Martin finished his degree while working a string of part-time jobs and learning to compose songs on a newfangled Synthergy III synthesizer purchased in partnership with roommate Ricky Loehlein. Martin and Ricky started appearing as Bleep at campus coffeehouse gigs in 1979, sharing a single keyboard and microphone.

Martin wrote prolifically, progressing from simple, gimmicky songs to more expansive pieces whose lyrics dealt with complex political and metaphysical topics. The duo soon acquired a spirited local following, thanks to their well-crafted tunes, sharp New Wave styling, and Martin’s innate stage presence, further augmented by the stage smarts he’d acquired in the CMU theater arts department.

By the time Bleep added third member Alan Finger (who already owned two synthesizers and a guitar), the band had already drummed up (or rather, drum-machined up) serious label interest. Bas Carlton, the rising A&R protégé of Clubbo founder Morris “Bo” Bogerman, brought them to his boss’s attention, and Bleep signed with the label on November 3, 1980 — Martin’s 22nd birthday.

It was a Steel City success story. At least until Bleep and Clubbo started talking about which songs to record.

Clubbo recoding artists Bleep

Jarrow was eager to develop his most ambitious material, while Loehlein, Finger, and Clubbo favored Martin’s simpler, catchier songs. Production meetings were tempestuous. Bogerman, accustomed to incinerating all adversaries with his apoplectic temper, encountered a worthy opponent in the fiery young Jarrow, who shared Bo’s penchant for shouting and hurling small objects. If anything, Martin enjoyed an edge with his theatrically trained voice and younger, healthier arm.

The Space Doors album was their compromise. It combined light-hearted party songs like “Thin Mint” and “Walking Into Walls” with longer, more abstract pieces, like the quasi-operatic anti-nuke manifesto “Atom Attack on the Potomac” and the epistemological musings of the title track.

A tentative peace reigned until it came time to release the first single. Everyone supported the decision to issue “Rubber Lover” — except of course Jarrow, who threatened to join a monastery if “Space Doors” wasn’t chosen.

In a bold departure from conventional wisdom, Clubbo released both songs simultaneously. You already know what happened next: “Space Doors” was ignored, and “Rubber Lover” went on to become one of the most iconic tracks of the era.

Certain artists have always had an uneasy relationship with their hits. Chances are King David had a bad attitude about performing some of his psalms. But Jarrow took this tendency to new heights, refusing to play ”Rubber Lover” in concert and disparaging the track in every interview. This did little to endear Bleep to the fans who’d purchased tickets in hopes of bopping along to the tune and chiming in with the “blub, blub” backing vocals.

“I wanted to wring Martin’s neck,” recalls Carlton, speaking via phone from his beachfront property in the Caymans. “But at the same time, I felt sorry for him. After all, it was he who’d written those brilliant little pop songs he so despised. It was almost as if he were hating a part of himself.”

When the time came to record a second album, the old fights erupted again, only more violently. The way Clubbo and Jarrow’s bandmates saw it, the public had spoken. To ignore their wishes would be career suicide. But Jarrow’s fear of being seen as a pop lightweight was replaced by something worse: the certainty that he already was one. His sole redemption would be to compose in a loftier, more abstruse style.

“By that point, with the difficult new material Jarrow was writing, Bleep could barely make it through a rehearsal, let alone a recording session,” says Carlton. “And when they did come into the studio, Loehlein and Finger were so rattled they could hardly play. Which of course infuriated Bo all the more. Few things aggravated him more than the thought that artists were wasting his production money. So naturally, he started berating them as bad musicians. It was not a productive dynamic.”

The situation came to an unexpected head on June 2, 1982, when Bogerman dropped dead mid-tirade during a Bleep session in Clubbo’s Hollywood studio, the victim of a massive coronary. Shocked into a more conciliatory frame of mind, Jarrow established a tentative truce with his label and bandmates, and recording sessions were suspended while the label regrouped.

But like all of Jarrow’s truces, this one was brief. It ended the instant he learned that one of Bogerman’s last acts was to license the Bleep song “Drip Drip Drip” to a Pittsburgh-based food conglomerate for use in a ketchup commercial. Enraged, Jarrow dressed as Jesus, soiled his robes with ketchup, and paraded back and forth outside the ketchup company headquarters dragging a large cardboard cross. He was quickly arrested, but not before the action made international headlines.

This episode had barely receded into memory when Bleep was involved in a second ketchup-related incident: Ricky Loehlein and a female companion arrived at Allegheny General Hospital seeking emergency treatment, and were discharged shortly thereafter.

The incident went unreported until an anonymous hospital employee told Celebrity Crime Report that Loehlein had incurred deep glass wounds when the couple attempted to dislodge a ketchup bottle from Ricky’s genitals. “I met Ricky at this club and we went back to his place,” his companion later stated anonymously in an exclusive CCR interview. “He had all these cases of ketchup and mustard and horseradish and pickle relish and stuff, all just laying around, and we just started playing with it. It wasn’t a protest or anything political, like what Martin did. Or if it was, Ricky didn’t tell me.”

Somehow another truce was reached, and Bleep reconvened in New York City to resume work on their second album. “I’d taken over as the head of Clubbo by then,” recounts Carlton. “None of us had seen one another for some months, so I was hoping that tempers might have cooled a bit.”

But as soon as the band boarded the passenger van to their first session, Jarrow was literally at Loehlein’s throat. Finger and the driver, Ravi Singh, 51, had to pry the two apart. Martin and Ricky promised to behave themselves, but soon after they pulled into traffic Martin hurled a Styrofoam cup full of hot tea at his bandmate. Loehlein ducked, and the cup struck the driver, spilling scalding liquid down his back. Singh lost control of the vehicle, which plowed into a hot-dog cart before being struck by several oncoming cars.

Singh and food vendor Boghos Ahmirkanian, 72, were killed instantly. Loehlein perished en route to the hospital, and Finger succumbed to his injuries several days later. Jarrow suffered a ruptured spleen and fractured pelvis, but survived.

Abbott Norbert of the Discalced Gaucherian Friars (left). Could the friar to the right be Martin Jarrow? (Photo courtesy of

Martin, blaming only himself for the tragedy, reportedly signed over all his Bleep royalties to the victims’ families. Finally making good on an earlier promise, he abandoned music permanently and undertook the postulancy to become a member of the Discalced Gaucherian Friars of the Strict Observance, a small Catholic order given to silence, penitent meditation, and the renunciation of conventional footwear.

You can write to Jarrow care of the Monastery of the Most Blessed Trinity in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania. But unless you’re luckier than we were, you’ll receive a polite letter from Abbot Norbert explaining that Brother Martin’s vows render him incapable of replying to personal correspondence.


Bleep lyrics and credits)