Friday, January 25, 2008

Early MTV: 1982 and Missing Persons



Flashback to the early 1980’s: I had just moved into the top floor of an old house. I had the place to myself for a few weeks until my roommates moved in. So I signed up for cable TV. I had heard of this channel called MTV but had not yet seen it. Didn’t matter – I couldn’t afford it. But…if I turned the TV tuner just right, it would come in. Thus began my few weeks of boredom watching MTV. Here is one.

Missing Persons - Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, vocalist Dale Bozzio, drummer Terry Bozzio, bassist Patrick O'Hearn and keyboardist Chuck Wild. I heard the song “Words” and immediately thought that this was something different. Most of the band members were former members of Frank Zappa’s touring band. Terry Bozzio is an incredible drummer and added the power behind the band. This was the day before drum machines took over. Warren’s guitar playing was different than anything I had heard. He did not take many solos, used effects to paint textures within the songs, and Dale Bozzio’s quirky voice rounded out the uniqueness of Missing Persons. You knew these were good musicians: anyone working with Zappa had to be great. He demanded alot from his band.
In 1980 the band made its first record, a 4-song EP entitled Missing Persons, in Zappa's brand-new UMRK studios; the recording was financed by Cuccurullo's father. The band toured, promoted the EP, appeared in the movie Lunch Wagon, and became a must-see band among the L.A. live music crowd. "Mental Hopscotch" was a #1 record on local radio station KROQ, and the self-promoted EP ended up selling 7,000 copies.

The first full length LP, with Spring Session M (an anagram of "Missing Persons") went gold. "Destination Unknown," "Words," and "Walking in L.A.," were a few of the singles of this LP, with Words being heavily played on the new MTV. (Source: Wikipedia)

I have this LP and rediscovered in last year. “Noticeable One” and “No More Tears” are my personal favorites. However, the whole LP is excellent and as said before, very different than the pop music being put at the time. Missing Persons was a visual band, with Dale Bozzio fronting it, often without many clothes on.
Missing Persons probably hit their peak while appearing at the three-day Southern California concert, the US Festival in May 1983.

Rhyme & Reason released in 1984. I had this LP for years and played it often over the speakers while employed at Musicland in that year. "The Closer that You Get," "Give," "Surrender Your Heart" and "Waiting for a Million Years" are standouts. A single, "Give," peaked at #67 in 1984.

Color In Your Life came out in June 1986. I liked this one. Still do. Stand-out songs include the "Go Against the Flow, and "I Can't Think About Dancing." The guitars are much heavier, and the songs less pop.
Terry and Dale Bozzio’s marriage difficulties led to the end of the band later that year.

Where are they now? For the last 20 years Warren Cuccurullo has found great success as guitarist for Duran Duran. Dale Bozzio had a top 40 hit on the Billboard Dance Chart, "Simon Simon", produced by Prince. Terry Bozzio has toured with Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck, has worked with several top level groups and artists as a session and tour drummer. He was particularly good on Jeff Becks Guitar Shop. Patrick O'Hearn is a composer of ambient instrumental music on his own albums and for television and movies.
Wild composes New Age and meditation music under the name Liquid Mind.

Dale still tours Missing Persons Featuring Dale Bozzio, but a full band reunion never really got going even after a few performances and lots of promotion.
Releases:
Spring Session M (1982) #17 US
Rhyme & Reason (1984) #43 US
Color in Your Life (1986) #88 US


Next up later: More obscure MTV in Slow Children (President AmI) and The Producers (See Sheila).

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