WoodyStalgia Ep. 1 - Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem

Posted on March 28, 2013 - 7:19pm by Woodyman

TLDR;

Golden teeth and golden tones, welcome to WoodyStalgia.

Today we'll be looking back at Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.

Greetings g1s and welcome to the very first episode of WoodyStalgia.

 

What it WoodyStalgia?:

It’s a new blog series by myself that’ll inform the whippersnappers and remind the old people of awesome things from the past. It’s not a review blog, but just an informative blog about something nostalgic. In this series, I’ll be looking at music, games, toons, shows, people, events, toys, comic, and so much more… just as long as it’s from the past (I don’t have a particular year in mind, but might change that in the future.)

 

In the first episode we’re going to be talking about the greatest Muppet rock band of all time… Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.

 

Origins:

Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem made their debut in the original Muppet Show. The Muppet Show was the brainchild of master puppeteer Jim Henson. It was essentially a song, dance, and comedy variety show starring the Muppets that occasionally showed behind the scenes antics of the Muppets. The show premiered in 1976 (I wasn’t even alive then!) and lasted for 120 episodes. The show started in the UK but made its way over to the US and syndication when reruns appeared on the TNT network and Nickelodeon in the late 80s and early 90s. However, we’re not here today to talk about the show… we’re gonna talk about the band.

 

Now why did Jim Henson want to include a musical Muppet band in The Muppet Show? According to Karen Falk (an historian who serves as the head archivist for The Jim Henson Company and top contributor to AskHenson.com)

 

Music was always an important part of Jim Henson's work. He had a strong interest in all types and had an eclectic record library. When he began writing proposals and creating concepts for The Muppet Show in the late 1960s, they always included a house band that was to appear in each episode. At that time, Jim had a strong interest in the counter-culture movement (as evidenced by his experimental film Youth '68) and sought to reflect that in the composition of the band. One proposal from about 1970 says that the band would, "...do songs like "Sunshine" from Hair. In fact, they are all dressed to out-hair the Hair cast."

 

The Electric Mayhem as we know it first appeared in 1975 on the Muppet Show pilot Sex and Violence. A page of ideas for the show written by Jim describes the band this way: "Rock act - far-out, elaborate weird equipment, big amps...".

 

Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem were often the musical act for The Muppet Show. They played numerous songs and with several guest stars and were always my favorite part of the show. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem often did covers of well-known songs such as New York State of Mind, Mack the Knife, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The band made their film debut in The Muppet Movie in 1979 where they performed “Hey, Can You Picture That” and helped Kermit and Fozzie disguise their car to avoid detection. Since then, the band made appearances in nearly all Muppet movies.

 

Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem have recorded several albums, almost went on “tour” (with animatronic versions of the band members) with My Morning Jacket performing the characters… but that was cancelled.

 

 

The Band Members:

Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem featured numerous guests artists, but the main crew was…

 

 

Dr. Teeth

Dr. Teeth is the frontman of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem and he’s also my favorite Muppet of all time. Dr. Teeth has a gravelly voice but in his first lines of the first Muppet movie he says "Golden teeth and golden tones, welcome to my presence." In addition to being the frontman, Dr. Teeth plays the keyboard and often sings. He isn’t the lead singer most of the time, that honor goes to Floyd, but he’s been known to stretch his vocal cords once in a while. Dr. Teeth is a green Muppet with a huge row of smiling teeth, and a single golden tooth. He is always seen with a long scraggly beard, a fur vest, and a stylish purple top hat. He has long arms that are maneuvered by one puppeteer while Mr. Jim Henson himself controlled the rest of the Dr. Teeth. Dr. Teeth often misuses long words and misspeaks but that just adds to his charm. If you didn’t already figure it out, Dr. Teeth is inspired by the musical genius, Dr. John, but some say he’s also inspired by Elton John. After the untimely death of Jim Henson, Dr. Teeth’s speaking roles became few and far between. The oddest thing about Dr. Teeth is that despite being the band’s leader he is not a part of the Muppet Show regular orchestra. Instead, he is replaced by the piano playing Rowlf.

 

Animal

This might be a long section because Animal is one of the most beloved and talked about Muppet ever made. Try and find a toy or something from the rest of the Electric Mayhem and you might get lucky, but you’ll be sifting through hundreds of Animal merchandise to get there. Okay… where do I start with Animal? Animal is a wildman, and the drummer for The Electric Mayhem. No one really knows who the inspiration for Animal is. Some say Animal was inspired by Keith Moon from The Who, but others say Levon Helm or Mick Fleetwood. Nevertheless, Animal’s name is derived from his wild drumming and antics… basically Animal likes to smash things, and eat things… it’s what he does. Animal has attacked the guest stars on the Muppet Show multiple times and even beat Buddy Rich in a drum battle. He speaks often in short outburst and often shouts out “mama!” and “Drum!”. It seems though everyone loves Animal though. As I said above he’s the most merchandised member of The Electric Mayhem and one of the most popular Muppets. He’s made an appearance in nearly every feature Muppet film, video game, and even was a main character in the *shudders* Muppet Babies. 

 

Janice

Janice is the only girl in The Electric Mayhem and the lead guitarist. She is a somewhat ditzy hippie girl with blond hair, big eyes, and big lips. Her name is an homage to Janis Joplin. I gotta admit, that I didn’t really like Janice at first. She had some good qualities like playing a Gibson Les Paul, but I never enjoyed her valley-girl speech nor her constant use of the word “like”. It just didn’t sit well with me. However, Janice began to grow on me as I watched more and more of The Muppet Show. She actually dated both Floyd and Zoot. In addition to playing lead guitar, Janice often sang backup vocals. She occasionally sang lead vocals but this was very rare. There really isn’t much more I can say about Janice, so moving on.

 

Sgt. Floyd Pepper:

I gotta say, I really love this character and it’s mainly due to his name and design. Sgt. Floyd Pepper is the bassist in The Electric Mayhem and is considered to be the laid back “hipster” or the group. His name is a reference to Pink Floyd and The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. His ornate jacket is also a reference to the Beatles album. Hell! He even plays bass left-handed just like Paul McCartney. The character was performed by Jerry Nelson until 2004 when Nelson quit for “health reasons” and then John Kennedy took over the role. Sgt. Floyd Pepper is the most cynical member of The Electric Mayhem, that is unless Statler and Waldorf ever joined the band. He often laughs at the antics of his fellow Muppets, and he has a real ego. Sgt. Floyd Pepper considers himself to be the best member of the band, and definitely the coolest. He claims that he is "one real cool dude" and even tells Kermit, “Kermit, you are talking to Floyd Pepper! The hippest of the hip! I mean I have a room for life at the home of the chronically groovy!” Normally, this would make me despise Sgt. Floyd Pepper, but honestly he can back up what he’s saying and might actually be the coolest of the group (except for Dr. Teeth of course). He seems to have a romantic relationship with the only girl in the band, Janice.  He is also given the job as Animal’s handler, and that is no easy task. Even though Dr. Teeth is the frontman, Sgt. Floyd Pepper does the majority of the singing and has even performed chilling renditions of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “New York State of Mind”… and Muppet that can successfully perform classics like those and make the listener feel something deserves to be boastful.

 

Zoot

There is a battle between Muppet fans as to who the cooler character is, Zoot or Sgt. Floyd Pepper. I gotta go with the Sergeant, but it was a close call. Before the addition of Lips, Zoot was the bands only horn player. He was sometimes blue and sometimes green, but always played the saxophone. Zoot is the only Muppet I can think of that’s bald, but somehow he pulls it off. He is the laidback member of the band and doesn’t speak often. His name is derived from legendary saxophone player Zoot Sims and his design is modeled after the Latin-jazz artist Gato Barbieri. Zoot is also one of the few Jewish Muppets, as shown in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. Besides that, Zoot had two claims to fame. First off he was a quiet Muppet who’d rather speak with his music than words and finally, he ended nearly every Muppet Show with the final off-key note of the Muppet Show end theme.

 

Lips

Lips is the most unknown member of The Electric Mayhem. That’s because he wasn’t one of the original 5 members. Lips joined The Electric Mayhem in the later episodes of The Muppet Show and was the band’s trumpet player. His name is a reference to the fact the trumpet players use their lips to play the instrument… yeah, it wasn’t that creative. Lips was added to the group so that puppeteer, Steve Whitmire, would have a character to play in the band. Unfortunately, Lips was often put in the background and rarely spoke. This is because Whitmire was unsure about how to perform the character. He wanted to give Lips a Louis Armstrong type voice but afraid of offending African Americans. Nevertheless, Lips was a welcome addition to the band, I just wish he did more.

 

The Music:

The problem with finding music from Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem is that it’s tough to find on YouTube. It’s even tougher to find quality videos. Nevertheless, I’ve posted a few of my favorites below. I’ve left them original size because sometimes it’s best to see the band, and listen to them. If you like what you hear then be sure to search for more. 

 

Love Ya To Death

 

Hey, Can You Picture That?

 

Mack The Knife

 

Rockin Robin

 

Sweet Tooth Jam

 

Blackbird

 

Mr. Bassman

 

New York State of Mind

 

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

 

Animal vs. Buddy Rich

 

The Present:

In this section of WoodyStalgia, I’ll be talking about how Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem (or whatever other topic I decide to cover, is around in the present. Some topics I’ll be mentioning completely died off, while others live on.

 

It seems as is The Muppets and Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem were going to die off. The Muppet Show was cancelled, and the movies stopped. That was until recently where The Muppets, a brand new film, was released. Since then, The Muppets have been steadily regaining popularity and are even releasing brand new videos on YouTube. A revival of The Muppet Show is in talks, but nothing has been heard from that. Since The Muppets have been revived, The Electric Mayhem have too. They appeared in a music video with Ok GO doing The Muppet Show theme song.

They’ve also appeared with nearly every other Muppet in a rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

And even to promote the new film, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem played their debut film song, “Hey, Can You Picture That” on Jimmy Kimmel with a drum battle between Animal and Travis Barker.

 

So it seems as though Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem were gone, but if this Muppet revival continues then I hope we see more and more of the greatest Muppet band of time.

 

Until then, check out reruns… and prepare your ears.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Well g1s, that was the very first episode of WoodyStalgia, I truly hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any suggestions for the future of this show be sure to post them below. Remember, it can be anything from toys, games, movies, shows, WHATEVER!!! If your suggestion is nostalgic for me, I just might use it.

 

My next SGC Kickstarter blog will be one suggested by g1 Flapperdoodle and it will be a blog comparing the latest Mortal Kombat with Super Street Fighter 4. Now I gotta say, this blog has been tough to write so I may not get it released until mid-April... I'm thinking April 18th.

 

Until then I don't really know what's next. I wanna continue my Pokemon Emerald 386 Adventure and I have a few ideas, but all I do know is... I'm gonna try and get a blog out every Thursday... the key word there is TRY.

 

Oh! and if you wanna win a free badge to SGC, enter my Robot Master Origin Story Contest ASAP! The deadline is appoaching quickly.

Happy Gaming!

 

 

 

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