Today’s Guest: Dale Bozzio, lead singer, Missing Persons
By Bob Andelman
August 11, 1984
Dale Bozzio, lead singer of Missing Persons, is intelligent, perceptive and immediately recognizable in a crowded room. Maybe that’s where Frank Sinatra first noticed her. She frolics on the beach, rides bicycles and dances in a chorus line in Sinatra’s recently released music video, “L.A. is My Lady.”It is a cameorolemany other well-known stars also pop up – but, as Bozzio notes, “I was so flattered – I mean, I do having flaming fuchsia hair.” Want to be a rock star? You need a gimmick. Bozzio emptied a Pandora’s Box of novelties and came up with a complete image and sound. The hair is vital, but so are the outrageous, revealing costumes and the hiccup in her vocals.
The Dimminutive Bozzio – she’s 4-foot 11 – calls that special element of her delivery “an almost atonal pitch.” I first developed when Missing Persons was recording the tracks for a successful debut EP. Two singles from that EP – “Words” and “Destination Unknown” – reached the Top 40.
“IN THE beginning of Missing Persons, Terry (Bozzio, her husband and drummer) and Warren (Cuccurullo, guitarist) purposely didn’t put words that had r’s in the music – like ‘cars,’ ‘parking’ or any of those sorts of words because no one could understand what I was singing. People used to think I was singing in Japanese,” she said in a telephone interview last week in Cleveland.
The Bozzios and Cuccurullo are all alumni of Frank Zappa’s bands. Filling out the Los Angeles – based band are Patrick O’Hearn on bass and Chuck Wild on keyboards.
DALE BOZZIO podcast excerpt: “”Warren Cuccurullo and I literally went door-to-door to record stores, putting the record on consignment. We created a condition that couldn’t be ignored.”
Once a Playboy Club billiards bunny in her native Boston, Bozzio has continued to wear exotic, revealing costumes in her musical career. Among the more unusual materials she has custom-built outfits from are plexiglass, plastic tubing, records by a band named Angel and coconut shells.
BOZZIO IS manager of the band, acting as a buffer between the band and the outside world, taking care of phone calls and interviews dealing with the record company and “doing what has to be done to get the show on the road.”
Missing Persons’ recording career, once on the fast track, is currently slow leaving a pit stop.
In 1981, the group produced and distributed its first four-song EP, selling 10,000 copies before being picked up by Capitol Records where it went on to sell 250,000 more.
“Warren and I literally went door-to-door to record stores, putting the record on consignment,” Bozzio recalled. “We created a condition that couldn’t be ignored.”
Somewhere between teleasing the EP and signing with the big deal, the band contributed songs and appeared briefly in a cheap sex film called Lunch Wagon.
“We did that to generate a record deal, to put a couple of tracks in the movie so we could land a deal. We did anything we possibly could at that time to gain attention. I played a rock ‘n’ roll singer. Terry and Warren are in it, too,” Bozzio said.”It’s not something I want to boast about.”
Following release of an album, Spring Session M, another single – “Walking in L.A.” – made an impression on the charts.
WITH CRITICAL accolades for the efficient musicianship of the band and positive responses to the live shows, the future seemed bright.
Four months ago, Rhyme and Reason was released. The second record from Missing Persons has gone nowhere. As a matter of fact, the record isn’t even found in the Billboard 200.
Next week, a video painted by Peter Max on a computer paint box will be released to attempt to salvage the current LP.