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MAYA: Remembering the 80s rockers that almost made it.

For every band that makes it out of the Metro, there are ten times as many that never get past playing a few gigs at the Belle Isle Brewery and maybe self-releasing an album or two, no matter how great they are. It’s just the way the law of averages works in the down and dirty music business, kid. Just ask Wakeland, Aranda and Maya.

Wait…Maya who?

Recently, while I was searching YouTube for various Oklahoma City-related ephemera to wax nostalgic on, such as locally-made commercials, I came across an absolutely stunning music video for the sexy sax-jam “Dance into Your Bed,” by a group called Maya. Dangerously intrigued and obviously hungry for more, a little bit of research dug up a 1983 article from the Oklahoman entitled “Who's that knockin' on the door? It's Maya!” by Gene Triplett that went deep into the Maya-mania phenom that was rockin’ the Big Town back in the day.

Made up of, according to said article, Wes Holland (drums, vocals), Cheryl Bonner (vocals, keyboards), Gary “Speedy” West Jr. (lead guitar), Kent Blessing (sax, guitar, keyboards), Jim Ratchel (horns, keyboards), Bill Hood (keyboards, vocals), and Woody Lingle (bass), Maya was a big deal not only on the then-popular hotel lounge circuit, but were also drawing numerous fans every week to their weekly gig at the long-gone and much-lamented Cajun’s Wharf.

Even though Maya had already released a handful of albums by 1983, apparently “Dance into Your Bed,” from the album Murder By Love, was their most notable attempt at trying to hit the big time, even being distributed by MCA. Currently, copies of the LP on Discogs are selling for about $3.00 (meanwhile, over on eBay, local record store Guestroom has a used vinyl of an earlier record, a self-titled release described as “Oklahoma Private Soul Funk Modern Boogie,” running for about $40 bucks).

With songs such as “Every Little Bit Hurts,” “Love Shines in the Darkest Places” and “I’d Do It with You,” man alive, would I love to get my hands on a hard copy of Murder By Love!

While the band reportedly played OKC frequently until the mid-90s in various incarnations, despite a propensity for performing some floor-filling 80s dance monsters the public couldn’t get enough of, they never quite made it past the clubs and restaurants, fading into local music obscurity faster than you can say PC Quest. But, after sampling the few notable tunes that have been posted to YouTube, would I be wrong in saying a Maya renaissance would be more than welcomed?

Both a product of their time and moderately ahead of their time, that classic smoke-filled club sound with those delicious synth-drum beats and MILF-friendly vocalizations honestly work even better today; I would personally love to see a local label release an authorized anthology collection of Maya’s best bangers to a new generation of local music fans hungry for something they can actually dance to, no sports-jacket required. ¡Cómpralo ya!


Maybe I should start my own record label...I did work for Not Lame for five years. Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler.

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