Peter Lemongello

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Peter Lemongello
Born February 11, 1947
Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
Genres Pop
Occupation(s) Singer, entrepreneur
Instruments vocals
Years active 1976–present
Labels Private Stock Records, Rapp Records

Peter Lemongello (born February 11, 1947) is an American singer from Jersey City, New Jersey and North Babylon, New York, best known for his double album Love '76, the first album to be sold exclusively through television advertising.

Early career[edit]

Lemongello spent the first part of his career as a cabaret singer, with several appearances on national TV, including 25 times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.[2]

Love '76[edit]

Lemongello hit upon the idea of creating an album to be sold exclusively on TV. Using a city-by-city marketing strategy, he and his partners began their Love ‘76 advertising campaign with an around-the-dial TV blitz in the New York market starting January 1, 1976, and ran commercials on all six New York channels 70 to 100 times a week. Sales of the double album skyrocketed him to fame, and the campaign entered Los Angeles and Las Vegas[3] and the album began to sell in the millions, attracting widespread media attention.

In a New York Times profile [4] he claimed, "Look what this country needs is a white, male superstar they can hang their hat on. They want him clean, and they want him now. That's why I'm playing it this way. I can be what they want. I can fill that void." After years of toiling in obscurity, Bob Pascuzzi bankrolled a promotional roll-out meant to generate interest from financial backers that would result in a deal for an album and concerts. To "attract they backers [the plan] was to rent out Westbury Music Fair for one show, [to] put Lemongello in the spotlight... It cost Lemongello $32,000 for the hall, the musicians, the arrangements and the publicity." With backers in place, the details of assembling the songs and personnel for the album coalesced. "He made the album - one side was completely done in the studio: the other side is a re-mixing of all his old tapes from live shows, even some that were recorded on cheap cassettes," wrote Kornheiser in the New York Times profile. Prophetically, a concert promoter opined: "He drew 2,400 people in New York, which is heavily Italian, where he spent 100 grand into commercials. For 100 grand you gotta get 2,500 curious people. Benny the Horse gets 2,500 curious people. Now he can work lounges the rest of his live. Benny the Horse can work lounges. Big deal... But can he deliver the goods? Can he deliver in Cleveland? In Chicago? In the places were he didn't buy TV time?" It turned out that he could not. And the short promotional blitz did not evolve in to a career memorable for the music. Instead it is a career memorable for its marketing and promotional gambit, which succeeded with a one-time return. It was not a sustained career so much as it was a financially successful gambit staged for a small, defined audience.

Lemongello became the first person to sell over a million records through a television direct marketing campaign,[5] and was also the first entertainer to underwrite a television direct advertising campaign selling shares in the project to private investors.[6]

The artist attracted the attention of Private Stock Records, who signed Lemongello in April 1976. By choice, Lemongello ended his self promotional efforts and released his second album, Do I Love You, in early 1977. Shortly after its release, Private Stock Records went out of business. Lemongello concentrated on live performances, appearing at Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Later career[edit]

Lemongello has continued his career in Branson, Missouri, billed as Branson's "Italian Crooner". Most recently he has adopted The Great American Songbook and appears frequently across the country.

Today Lemongello currently lives in Boca Raton, FL with his wife Karen, and his son Peter Jr. Peter Lemongello Jr. always sings on stage during his father's shows and has sung Can't Help Falling in Love (duet with his father), The Wanderer (solo by Peter Jr.), and currently sings Sweet Caroline (duet with his father), and Jailhouse Rock (solo by Peter Jr.).

In late 2012, Lemongello re-recorded his 1976 song "Can't Get Enough Of You Girl" with producer and songwriter Jimmy Michaels. The re-recording appears on the re-issue of the Michaels album More Things Change.


Lemongello was spoofed in the episode of Saturday Night Live that aired May 22, 1976, with Chevy Chase playing a singer named Peter Lemon Mood Ring, who changed colors with every song.[7] Chase reprised the parody in his 1989 film Fletch Lives.

Singer-songwriter Will Dailey released a promotional video in 2009 for his album Torrent, in which he is forced by his managers to make a (fictitious) commercial for Torrent in the style of the Love '76 commercial.[8]

Album Discography[edit]

"Love '76" (1976) Rapp Records
"Do I Love You" (1976) Private Stock Records


External links[edit]