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The Phoenix New Times, July 23-29, 1998


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Wouldn't you like to see a Pepper, too?
By Serene Dominic

The Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper album cover provided us with a host of luminaries from the universally recognized (W.C. Fields, Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan) to the unknown and esoteric (guru Sri Lahari Kahasaya and singer Bobby Breen).

In an attempt to re-create that famous sleeve for the movie finale, producer Robert Stigwood pulled out all the stops in assembling his own crowd scene. He invited 400 celebrities from all over the world to a party on the set, providing each guest a first-class plane ticket and accommodations at a hotel of his or her choice. Total cost for this one day of shooting--half a million dollars!! For that kind of scratch, you could probably just get Brando, but Stigwood had his own bizarre sense of what celebrities he should choose (Connie Stevens? Margaret Whiting?)

Here's the complete head-scratching list divided into five distinct categories.

 

GUESTS AT PEPPERLAND NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND COULD BE EXPECTED TO KNOW:

Keith Allison-- semi-regular on Where the Action Is and an ex-Paul Revere Raider.
Eddie Harris-- Jazz tenor saxophonist who usually has pretty ladies or neat drawings of toasters or chocolates on his album covers.
Adrian Gurvitz-- Record producer and member of the Baker Gurvitz Army, a mid-'70s group with ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker that, like the plot to Pepper, went nowhere.
Jackie Lomax-- Failed Apple recording artist produced by George Harrison hardly qualifies as an acceptable 5,500th Beatle.
Joe Lala-- Session percussionist for Bee Gees and onetime member of Blues Image and Steven Stills' Mannasas.
Alan White-- Drummer for Yes and onetime member of Plastic Ono band. Instant Karma's gonna get you, Alan!
Lenny White-- Drummer for jazz/fusion band Return To Forever. Who drew up this dream guest list, Max Weinberg?
Grover Washington, Jr.-- Another jazz tenor saxophonist.
Anita Pointer-- Spot one Pointer sister without the other two bookendin'? I don't think so. The Sisters' career takes off when sister Bonnie quits around Pepper time.
John Mayall-- Blues legend, but only because he picked good side men. Even though he's on the cover of every album, you couldn't pick him out of a phone booth.
Monte Rock III-- Alias Disco Tex of Disco Tex and the Sexolettes fame. Happy hunting!
Lee Oskar-- Harmonica player for War.

GUESTS AT PEPPERLAND EVEN I DON'T KNOW:

Barbara Dickson
Charlotte, Sharon and Ula (must be hookers RSO keeps on retainer)
Randy Edelman-- Don't tell me. I know he did something. But what?
Billy Harper
Danielle Rowe
Geraldine Granger
D.C. LaRue
Jo Leb
Marcy Levy
Diane Vincent

GUESTS AT PEPPERLAND ALREADY ON THE DOWNSLIDE:

Stephen Bishop-- Shut out of the top 40 for five years until he scores a post-Pepper hit with "It Might Be You" (theme from Tootsie) in 1983.
Jack Bruce-- Another RSO indentured slave, still reeling from being financially cheated during his early Cream days. Maybe the junket was his only way of getting some recompensation from Stigwood.
Keith Carradine-- Actor/one-hit wonder from 1976 with "I'm Easy."
Jim Dandy Mangrum-- lead singer of Black Oak Arkansas, Southern rock one-hit wonder from 1974 with "Jim Dandy."
Rick Derringer-- Leader of McCoys, member of the Edgar Winter Group, one-hit wonder from 1974 with "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo."
Donovan-- Hasn't had a hit single since the continent of "Atlantis" sank in 1969. Gave birth to a son, Donovan Leitch, who fronted arguably the worst band of the '90s, Nancy Boy.
Yvonne Elliman-- Another RSO stowaway who had a super number-one hit in early 1978 with the Bee Gees-penned "If I Can't Have You." A year after this Pepper cameo, the public sends one Yvonne single "Love Pain" up to Number 34 and spends the '80s Elliman-less.
Jose Feliciano-- Until Rosanne belched our national anthem and scratched her crotch, Feliciano was the standard bearer for most sacrilegious rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." Jose can you see, indeed!
Nona Hendryx-- Another ex-Labelle with lots of hip cache and no record sales.
Heart-- Pre-Pepper, the Wilson sisters had four consecutive platinum albums. After Pepper, they had two gold ones, then two that didn't even go gold. Heart begins using outside writers (Desmond Child?) in 1985 and scores hits immediately. Then Ann Wilson discovers carbohydrates and the whole sorry process starts all over again.
Wolfman Jack-- Host of Midnight Special until Helen Reddy took over.
Helen Reddy-- No one gets out of here alive. No one, ya hear! Helen starred as a singing nun in Airport '75 and completes her credits in disaster films with this appearance.
Frankie Valli-- Besides RSO Records and the Bee Gees, Valli's the only other connecting thread between the Grease movie and this. Hot off the "Grease" theme, Valli never placed another chart hit again. Probably wasn't invited to the re-release premiere just so not to jinx it.
Minnie Ripperton-- Died one year after this movie at age 30.
Mark Lindsay-- No hits since the Raiders' last, "Birds of a Feather," in 1971.
Peter Noone-- This appearance of the former Herman's Hermit insures that his New Wave outfit, The Tremblers, the following year will not move or shake anyone.
Sha-Na-Na-- By this time, Bowzer was hosting the new Hollywood Squares, wasn't he?
Leif Garrett-- Teen idol scores one Top 10 hit the fall after this cameo with "I Was Made for Dancing," before his teen-idol expiration date kicks in and the drinking and druggin' begin. His resemblance to Peter Frampton couldn't have helped!
Etta James
Alan O'Day
The Paley Brothers
Wilson Pickett
Johnny Rivers
Del Shannon
Joe Simon
Seals & Crofts
Connie Stevens
Johnny Winter
Bobby Womack
Margaret Whiting
Gary Wright

GUESTS AT PEPPERLAND WHO EMERGED RELATIVELY UNSCATHED:

Peter Allen
George Benson-- scores several more bland ballads that make the public universally forget he was a jazz guitarist.
Sarah Dash-- Ex-member of Labelle, scored with "Ooh La La (Too Soon)," a medium-size disco hit based on the Sassoon designer-jeans commercial. Featured background vocalist on the Stones' Steel Wheels tour.
Carol Channing-- Oh, Dolly'll never go away, and this year's admission that she hasn't had sex in 25 years certainly qualifies as emerging unscathed.
Barry Humphries-- That Dame Edna guy!
Dr. John-- Well-employed session player and jingle singer. This could be the only case of his being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Chita Rivera
Al Stewart
Bruce Johnston--
Longtime Beach Boy fill-in for Brian Wilson. Wrote "I Write the Songs" about Wilson but most people prefer blaming Barry Manilow for writing it about Barry Manilow.
Nils Lofgren
Cousin Bruce Morrow--
Once an oldies DJ, always an oldies DJ.
Curtis Mayfield-- At least a giant lighting rig didn't fall on him in Pepperland.
John Stewart-- Former Kingston Trio member and yet another indicator that attendance was mandatory for all RSO recording artists.
Gwen Verdonbr> Hank Williams, Jr.-- This movie sure coulda used all his rowdy friends.

GUESTS AT PEPPERLAND WHOSE FORTUNES TURNED UPWARD MANY YEARS LATER:

Robert Palmer
Bonnie Raitt
Tina Turner--
(Ike would never think of looking for her in Pepperland)

WEB EXTRA:
The Pepper Legacy

 

Pepper Spray
It was 20 years ago this week that
Sgt. Pepper dropped a bomb on movie theaters, so where's all the rerelease hoopla?

The Original Spice Girls
Sandy, Stargard and Dianne
(with audio)

Go E-Mail Alice
IFAQ with Alice Cooper

 



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Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (.mov)
The finale with Tina and Leif holding their own

 

 

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