Saturday, February 11, 2012

Marketing Marvels: Peter Lemongello

Growing up, the savory vocals of crooners wafted through the speakers of the console in the corner of the living room: Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Jerry Vale. Oh, and a guy with a funny name too, Engelbert Humperdinck.

Then, in the mid-70’s, out of thin air so it seemed, a crooner from Long Island with a name that sounded like dessert appeared. And the name was his real name: Peter Lemongello.

Flash backwards, 1976: Memories of late night television advertising of that time and falling asleep in the rocker/recliner. But for those who could stay awake, a whole world of products beckoned even before the term “as seen on TV” was coined: Ronco slicers, dicers, and lighters, ginsu knives, and a singer!

A singer? Well, why not? What a novel idea. Introduce your pipes to people half asleep; how sweet the sounds. Peter had already tried the usual tricks like sending gifts (lemon jello) to DJ’s and record companies. And he had already achieved some short lived career highlights that failed to gain for him the recognition he craved.

But Peter was doing more than singing for his supper. He grew a distribution business. The product? Eggs. He took his profits and made savvy investments. Peter proved his sales, marketing, and business knowledge.

Going on 30, perhaps panicking about his desire to be a star but not giving up, his handsome looks and crooning charm made a perfect blend for soothing the ears of the late night crowd.

He found investors for his, at the time, “crazy” scheme. Close to $400,000, about $1.5 million in today’s dollars.  And this is how a star is born (click here):

Peter's promotion plan was aggressive; advertising was frequent and intense, first in the New York Tri-State area. Once sales started kicking in, spots began airing in the second largest metro, Los Angeles, followed by Las Vegas. These markets all made sense, tying in to his earlier years where he made many TV appearances on talk shows, had a record deal, and sang in Las Vegas with Don Rickles.

And, now, he gained attention.

You know what happens next. Peter sold millions of records on his own label. Several articles have cited Peter Lemongello as the first singer to sell over a million copies of an LP on TV; in this case the two disk set, “Love ‘76”. That’s quite a feat for what some might deem schlock but what was ultimately christened “mood rock music” in the TV spots. He toured too and the ladies giggled and screamed.

At the height of his sudden fame, he was portrayed by Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live as Peter Lemon Mood Ring.

Early 1977, Peter was picked up for his second album by Private Stock, a record label with Starbuck, David Soul, and later Blondie, in their stable. It whimpered.

Peter retreated to Florida shortly after the failure of his second album and became a home builder, something he had previously toiled at on Long Island. He ran into some troubles in 1982 regarding an arson case. Sigh.

R. Buckminster Fuller once said: "People should think things out fresh and not just accept conventional terms and the conventional way of doing things."

Peter did just that. In 1976, long before the internet, there was television; remember it? Advertising on TV was a major avenue for a brand or product, but not in the way he used it. He put to work skills acquired in other industries, applied a new twist, and took a leap of faith. He convinced private investors to put their stock in and trust his instincts. The product (his pipes and looks) had little competition at the time and a target market (women) were there waiting for someone like him.

Did he do research beforehand? Don’t know, but let’s hope he did. Having hard facts showing the size of the audience would have been a strong driver for demonstrating his promising success to potential investors.

Currently, Peter makes limited appearances on the East Coast. Sources also cite that at one time he performed in Branson Missouri as well. Catch him if you can!

And February 11 is his birthday! Wishing him the best.

To see highlights of Peter Lemongello’s career, click here.


Anonymous said...

Nice! Love that Peter Lemongello!

Shannon Grissom said...

Made me smile Gerry. Great blast from the past that is sooo relevant to the present.

Gerry Wendel said...

It's funny but I had started this blog back in September. A fan on my Groovy Reflections page mentioned him yesterday and that put me on the fast track to finish this one! Glad you enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who likes LIME jello?....Oh.

Anonymous said...

Peter is a Performer from 1976 who has never lost his charm, wit, sincere love for all his friends and fans. Peter has continued to entertain all of us from years back to the present. He has a special bond with his audience. He is a down to earth person who is like a friend first then a professional. I am honored to have know him for 36 years now. loved him then, love him even more now. You are the best Peter...May you always have success in all you do. "M"

Gerry Wendel said...

Thanks for checking in. What a thrill to have known him all these years! Appreciate your comments.

Anonymous said...

You are welcome, Peter has become a special part in our lives, he is one of the best friends I have and I adore him. He is so down to earth and yet a Professional when needed. Hoping to see him soon, am missing my buddy. He will know who this is, he always calls me "M"

Gerry Wendel said...

Thanks for your additional comment, "M". Great things you are saying about Peter; love that!

Anonymous said...

The first time I saw Peter was in 1968 or 69 at the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. What a voice! I lost him for several years and then came LOVE 76.
I've been a fan/friend ever since. Peter is the total package.....golden voice.....gorgeous on the eyes.....personality to match. Peter loves his fans and they love him. He is the King of Hearts! Love you Peter!

Guy Sharwood said...

Very interesting! Thanks for posting, Gerry!

Anonymous said...

Peter Lemongello is back with a brand new recording! It's a remake of his classic tune "Can't Get Enough Of You Girl" from Love '76 done with an independent artist named Jimmy Michaels. Look:

Peter still sounds nice, and the other non related tunes on this album actually arn't bad, all retro sounding. I broke down and bought it all. Highly recomended.