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February 11, 1947|
North Babylon, New York, United States
|Labels||Private Stock Records, Epic Records, Rapp Records|
Peter Lemongello (born February 11, 1947) is an American singer known for his double album Love '76, the first album to be sold exclusively through television advertising.
Lemongello spent the first part of his career as a cabaret singer, with several appearances on national TV, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He released his first two records (under the name Pete Lemongello) on the Rare Bird record label to no fanfare. In 1973, he signed to Epic Records. He released one single in December 1973; it failed to chart and he was subsequently dropped from the label.
Frustrated by his lack of record sales, 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 in the New York area, and the campaign entered Los Angeles and Las Vegas and the album began to sell in the millions, attracting widespread media attention.
In a profile in The New York Times, he stated, "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 the 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 life. Benny the Horse can work lounges. Big deal... But can he deliver the goods? Can he deliver in Cleveland? In Chicago? In the places where he didn't buy TV time?" It turned out that he could not. And the short promotional blitz did not evolve into 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 claims to have sold 1.8 million copies of Love ‘76. However, according to Both Sides Now, a well known and trusted record label database, as well as a May 31st, 1976 article in Time magazine, the album sold 43,000 copies by the end of the commercial's run.
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. The album and its subsequent singles failed to chart.
On January 15th, 1983, Lemongello and his cousin, pro bowler Mike Lemongello, were kidnapped from a construction site. The kidnappers forced Mike to withdraw money from a bank. Once he did this, the two were dumped in the woods. Two weeks after the incident, Mark Lemongello, a former pitcher for the Houston Astros, turned himself in to police.
Around the same time, Lemongello was accused of masterminding two acts of arson, setting fire to two luxury houses his construction firm were working on near St. Petersburg, Florida. In April of 1983, he was put on ten years probation for the crime and was ordered to pay $110,000 to reimburse insurance companies.
Years later, Lemongello 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.
Peter, Jr. is also an entertainer and is currently the lead singer of the vocal group The Crests with original founding member, J.T. Carter. The group (with Lemongello) made its national television debut in March, 2018 on PBS as part of TJ Lubinsky's "My Music: Doo Wop Generations." The group was featured singing The Crests' 1959 hit, "The Angels Listened In."
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. 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.
- Love '76 (1976), Rapp Records
- Do I Love You (1976), Private Stock Records
- https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1711180/ IMBd Direct
- "Peter Lemongello Discography - USA - 45cat". www.45cat.com.
- “The $390,000 Man” Time; Monday, May. 31, 1976
- KORNHEISER, TONY (June 20, 1976). "New York Times, He Did It His Way, June 20, 1976".
- "Private Stock Album Discography". www.bsnpubs.com. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
- "Television: The $390,000 Man". 31 May 1976 – via content.time.com.
- "Private Stock Album Discography". www.bsnpubs.com.
- David van Biema, Sandra Hinson (July 12, 1982). "Peter Lemongello Fizzled as a Torch Singer But, Police Claim, Not as An Arsonist". People. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
- "Lemongello Surrenders On Kidnapping Charges". The New York Times. January 23, 1982. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
- Patti Bridges (July 16, 1983). "Men get probation in kidnapping case". The Evening Independent. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
- "J.T. Carter's Crests". Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "J.T. Carter's Crests with Peter Lemongello, Jr. on PBS". Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "SNL Transcripts: Buck Henry: 05/22/76: Peter Lemon Moodring". snltranscripts.jt.org.
- on YouTube