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Perrey and Kingsley were a musical duo consisting of Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, who were pioneers in the field of electronic music. Before their collaboration, starting in 1965, electronic music was considered to be purely avant-garde.

Their most recognizable work to Disney fans is their 1967 composition "Baroque Hoedown". Disney has used arrangements of this song for numerous shows in their theme parks, starting with the original version of Walt Disney World's Electrical Water Pageant, but it is most famously known today as the theme music for all versions of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Some of their songs, such as "Little Man from Mars", can be heard in Disneyland's Tomorrowland at the Star Trader gift shop.

Biographies[]

German-born Kingsley, born Götz Gustav Kisinski, fled Nazi Germany for Israel and began his career in music as a pit conductor for Broadway musical shows after graduating from the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Perrey was a French accordion player and medical student who abandoned his studies after meeting Georges Jenny in Paris in 1952. Jenny was the inventor of the Ondioline, a vacuum tube-powered keyboard instrument that was a forerunner of today's synthesizers and was capable of creating an amazing variety of sounds. Its keyboard was suspended on special springs that made it possible to introduce a natural vibrato if the player moved the keyboard from side to side with their playing hand. The result was a beautiful, almost human-like vibrato that lent a wide range of expressions to the Ondioline. The keyboard was also pressure-sensitive and the instrument had a knee volume lever as well. Jenny hired Perrey as a salesman and demonstrator of the new instrument. As a result, he later came to the attention of French singer Édith Piaf who sponsored him to record a demo tape that later allowed him to work and live in the United States between 1960 and 1970.

Their first meeting[]

Perrey and Kingsley came together during Kingsley's stint as a staff arranger at Vanguard Records, an independent label in Santa Monica, California that specialized not in avant-garde music, but in folk music. At that time, Perrey was experimenting with tape loops, which he had been introduced to by the French avant-garde musician Pierre Schaeffer. Each loop was a laboriously hand-spliced assemblage of filtered sounds, pitch-manipulated sounds and sometimes even animal calls. The end result of their first collaborative effort in 1966 combined Perrey's tape loops and his inventive melodies with Kingsley's complementary arrangements and instrumentation. The resulting album was filled with tunes that sounded like music from an animated cartoon gone berserk. Titled The In Sound From Way Out!, the album was released on Vanguard Records that same year. Since this was decades before the advent of widespread digital technology, each tune took weeks of painstaking editing and splicing to produce.

The twelve rather whimsical tracks bore names like "Unidentified Flying Object" and "The Little Man From Mars" in an attempt to make electronic music more accessible to the general public. The offbeat titles and happy, upbeat melodies added a genuine sense of humor to popular music years before another notable musician, Frank Zappa, would do likewise. In fact, "Unidentified Flying Object" and another of the album's cuts, "Electronic Can-Can" eventually became the theme music for "Wonderama", a Metromedia Television children's program of the early 1970s. The late 1970s would see "Unidentified Flying Object" used as the theme to Jeopardy! 1999, a now-famous skit from Saturday Night Live. Though most of the melodies were original, two borrowed from the classics. "Swan's Splashdown" was based on Pyotr Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" while "Countdown At 6" borrowed from Amilcare Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours", much as Allan Sherman did in 1963 with his hit recording, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh". The final cut on the album, "Visa To The Stars" is co-credited to "Andy Badale", who would go on to fame as Angelo Badalamenti, arranger of the music in many of David Lynch's movies. In contrast to the rest of the album, "Visa To The Stars" is a more serious gesture and lacks the unusual sound effects of the other eleven cuts. It is highly reminiscent of the style of Joe Meek and his hit, "Telstar" by The Tornados. Perrey's Ondioline carries the melody throughout.

Hollywood takes notice[]

Their second and final collaborative effort came in 1967 with the release of Spotlight On The Moog (Kaleidoscopic Vibrations). This was a similar sounding effort, but instead of all original compositions, the album was mostly versions of popular songs of the day. In this album, Perrey's tape loops and effects were added in post-production after Kingsley's orchestrations were recorded, a technique now commonly used by electronic artists to this day. The album was one of the first to use the new Moog modular synthesizer, a massive, complicated electronic instrument resembling an old-style telephone switchboard. In fact, the Moog album was released a year and a half before the release of Walter Carlos' ground-breaking Switched-On Bach. The album also bore two notable singles. "The Savers" would go on to fame in 1968 as the Clio Award-winning music for a television ad for No-Cal diet drinks, and in 1972 as the theme to the American television game show The Joker's Wild.

Around the same time "The Savers" was being used on television, Imagineers at WED Enterprises were at work on a new show at Disneyland called the "Main Street Electrical Parade". The idea of the show was to cover floats with thousands of multicolored, electronically-controlled lights and to set the show to music. Paul Beaver, an accomplished electronic musician in his own right, helped rework a Perrey-Kingsley composition called "Baroque Hoedown", an upbeat, almost sparkling number best described as "harpsichord gone country". Disney had already used an arrangement of this piece for the Electrical Water Pageant at Walt Disney World, but it quickly became inextricably associated with the Electrical Parade upon its premiere on June 17, 1972. The specific arrangement used for the parade was updated in 1977 by Disney musician Don Dorsey, and again in 2001 by Gregory Smith, but even after over fifty years, the parade and its variants continue to use Baroque Hoedown as the basis for their soundtracks.

Several segments of Sesame Street produced in the 1970s also made use of music from The In Sound from Way Out! as did other television programs, such as The Red Skelton Show.

Their impact today[]

Though Perrey and Kingsley never enjoyed tremendous commercial success, their music inspired a generation of musicians and was and is used extensively in advertising. Moog Indigo, a Jean-Jacques Perrey solo album from 1970 featured a cut called "E.V.A." This slow, funky track is one of the most sampled in hip-hop and rap music history. In the U.S., it was once used in a TV ad for Zelnorm, a prescription medication for, of all things, female irritable bowel syndrome. The same album produced "The Elephant Never Forgets" (Perrey's cover of Beethoven's Turkish March) which is still being used as the theme of the Mexican Televisa comedy show, El Chavo Del Ocho. Even the Beastie Boys (with permission from Perrey and Kingsley) used both the title and cover art of P & K's first album for their own The In Sound from Way Out! album in 1996, while Smash Mouth (who did not ask for permission) borrowed the opening riff from "Swan's Splashdown" for their 1997 hit, "Walkin' On the Sun". Gershon Kingsley's biggest contribution to mainstream pop music came in the early 1970s as the composer of "Popcorn", the single biggest hit of the German "phantom band" Hot Butter led by American musician Stan Free. The television logo of PBS affiliate WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts still uses an audio sting that Gershon Kingsley composed for them in the early 1970's.

Their work for Vanguard is available on a three-CD set called The Out Sound From Way In! The Complete Vanguard Recordings. The bonus CD features two remixes of "E.V.A." by Fatboy Slim, remixes of "Winchester Cathedral" and "Lover's Concerto" from Kaleidoscopic Vibrations as well as "Electronic Can-Can" and "Unidentified Flying Object", each by techno artists Eurotrash.

Perrey released four new CDs in the 2000s: Eclektronics - recorded in 1997 with musician David Chazam (Basta, 2000), Circus of Life - recorded in 1999 with musician Gilbert Sigrist (PHMP, 2000), The Happy Electropop Music Machine (2006) - recorded with musician and arranger Dana Countryman, and Destination Space (2008) - also recorded with Countryman.

Perrey continued performing into the 21st century, and died on November 4, 2016, at the age of 87.

Kingsley spent his later years living in New York City and remained passionate about music until his death at the age of 97 on December 10, 2019.

External links[]

Wikipedia
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia page Perrey and Kingsley. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. Text from Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.
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