In the summer of 2009, The Killers played legendary London venue Royal Albert Hall. Midway through the show, saxophonist Tommy Marth wandered over to percussionist Rob Whited. “He said, ‘Man, we’re playing Royal Albert f*cking Hall with The Killers right now!’” Whited remembers.
To the rest of the world, Marth was The Killers’ sax player. He toured with the band throughout 2008 and ’09—across the U.S. and to Europe, South America, Australia and Africa—and put his stamp on second and third Killers albums Sam’s Town and Day & Age. For so many in Las Vegas, however, he was so much more, a friend and one of the most familiar faces in a music community now in shock and in mourning.
On Monday morning, Marth’s body was discovered in his Las Vegas home, the cause of death officially ruled suicide. He was 33 years old. Marth is survived by his parents and two siblings.
“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 Monday. “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: “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.”
Marth contributed to recordings by The Big Friendly Corporation and Black Camaro and served in Halloween Town’s live lineup for a time. He was also known through his work in a variety of roles at local venues, 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.
In a September 2008 interview with Las Vegas Magazine, a sister publication of Las Vegas Weekly, Marth was asked what made him a good person to know in Las Vegas. “Do you want the humble answer?” he responded. “Bragging is encouraged,” he was told.
“Let’s do humble,” he answered. “I’ve been here my entire life. Up until a few years ago, I had worked in every single nightclub in Las Vegas, usually as an entertainer or a DJ. … I was also a nightlife writer for CityLife, so at one point I knew pretty much everybody who was either running a club or who was involved with a nightclub. …
“At the same time, I’ve also quit jobs because I’ve been asked to compromise my own integrity. And I’ve had no qualms about doing that. … I’ve never had to do anything illegal, which I know that plenty of people who do operate a lot of these venues still do. And because of that, you can always expect honesty, you can always expect me to help you out. I’m always true to my word.”