As disco died with the 1970s, New Wave music ushered in the 1980s, signified by its synthesized pop sound, outlandish outfits, and men wearing makeup. A slew of bands were signed to record deals in Los Angeles during this era, Romeo Void, Berlin, the Go-Go’s, and Missing Persons among them. Missing Persons’ debut LP, Spring Session M, produced three singles that failed to reach the top 40, but the album achieved gold status nonetheless. Propelled by the success of singles like “Words,” “Destination Unknown,” and “Walking in L.A.” on the fledging MTV network, Missing Persons became one of the era’s most successful acts.
Former Frank Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio and ex-Playboy Playmate Dale Consalvi met in a recording studio in Hollywood, California, in the late 1970s. Consalvi, the daughter of a carpenter and a furrier, had been named Playboy magazine’s “Bunny of the Year” in her hometown of Boston in 1976. Admitted to the drama program at Emerson College, she hoped to pursue an acting career but abandoned those aspirations for Playboy: she found out she had beaten out 200 other aspiring Playmates for a job at Boston’s Playboy Club the same day she got into Emerson. She wore her bunny suit for four years, “a very social time in my life,” she recalled in an interview with Deirdre Donahue for People. She then headed out to Los Angeles to resume the pursuit of her acting dreams.
Bozzio grew up in San Francisco and began playing drums at age six on his own makeshift set, which he constructed of a hodgepodge of materials, including coffee cans and metal signs. He started by playing along with records by Tito Puente and the surf group the Ventures. He had music in his blood—his father, a salesman, had been a talented accordion player, and his mother had sung in her own high-school jazz band. After watching the Beatles play on Ed Sullivan’s television variety show at age 13, Bozzio convinced his father he needed drum lessons. After six months of lessons, he began playing in high school and garage bands, in rock musicals and in local jazz groups. He graduated with a degree in music from the College of Marin and played in Bay Area symphonies. He auditioned for and earned a spot in Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention band in 1975 and proceeded to record ten albums and finish three world tours with Zappa over the next three years. He was playing with a group called U.K. when he quit to form Missing Persons.
Bozzio and Consalvi were married in 1979 and formed Missing Persons a year later, with the newly renamed Dale Bozzio singing at the front. The couple filled out the band, originally named U.S. Drag, with former Zappa musicians Warren Cuccurullo on guitar and Patrick O’Hearn on bass. Chuck Wild, a classically trained musician, played keyboards. The group complete, Missing Persons headed out and started playing in local Los Angeles clubs. The gregarious Dale Bozzio acted as the group’s manager. Terry, the more
Members include Dale Bozzio vocals; Terry Bozzio (born on December 27, 1950, in San Francisco, CA), drums; Warren Cuccurullo, guitar; Patrick O’Hearn, bass; Chuck Wild, keyboards.
Group formed in Los Angeles by married couple Dale and Terry Bozzio, 1980; released self-titled debut EP, 1981; first full-length LP, Spring Session M, produced underground hits “Words,” “Destination Unknown,” and “Walking in L.A.,” 1982; released Rhyme and Reason, 1984; released Color in Your Life, then disbanded, 1986; Dale Bozzio toured with her own version of Missing Persons; group reunited for several live shows, 2001.
Addresses: Record company —Capitol Records, 1750 Vine St., Hollywood, CA 90028.
reserved of the pair, was the “creative backbone” of the band, according to Donahue. He was responsible for writing most of the group’s material, though he occasionally collaborated with Dale, an unpublished poet.
Dale Bozzio’s most important contributions to Missing Persons were her sultry stage presence and wild sense of style. With her platinum-blonde mane with shocking-pink streaks, she became a style icon of the New Wave era. She slid her ultra-thin body into revealing, skintight outfits that she had fashioned herself out of translucent vinyl or packing material. Her self-styled Plexiglas bras became her signature. Occasionally, the see-through plastic bowls would be filled with live goldfish and water. She remarked in People that it took her two hours to get ready before every show. Onstage, her high-pitched voice squeaked and cracked through the band’s songs. She moved her lithe body about suggestively, entrancing the audience. The rest of the band members were no wallflowers—they all donned the wild and romantic clothing, brightly colored hairdos, and black eyeliner that signified the New Wave 1980s.
Missing Persons self-released its debut EP, Missing Persons, in 1981. It became the largest-selling debut EP at the time. Their full-length debut, Spring Session M M—the title is an anagram of the band’s name—was released on Capitol Records a year later. While the album’s featured singles—“Words,” “Destination Unknown,” and “Walking in L.A.”—came close, none of them made it onto the top-40 charts.
While top-40 success remained just out of reach for Missing Persons, the group had the audience of an upstart television network called MTV in the palm of its hand. Dale Bozzio’s outrageous appearance and stage persona carried well on the small screen, and the band’s music videos fueled their success. Despite Rolling Stone critic Christopher Connfity’s declaration that Dale Bozzio had no merits as a singer, Spring Session M ultimately earned gold-record status for sales.
The group’s second LP, Rhyme and Reason, failed to produce the kind of response Missing Persons needed and spelled the beginning of the end for the band. Rolling Stone critic Debby Miller wrote, “The music seems detached—and so does singer Dale Bozzio.” It produced the minor hit “Give” but paled in comparison to the success of Spring Session M. Things went south for both the band and the Bozzios’ marriage after the dismal response to the 1986 release Color in Your Life. The group had taken off on a dance-music tangent on the album that just did not appeal to Missing Persons fans. By 1987, the members of Missing Persons, including Dale and Terry Bozzio, each went their separate ways.
After the group disbanded and the Bozzios divorced, Terry Bozzio worked with Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor as well as recording and performing his own solo material. He became a session drummer with Robbie Robertson, Herbie Hancock, and Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil, among others. He toured as a teaching drummer and designed a line of his own signature drum-sticks for drumstick manufacturer Vic Firth. He formed BB&H with guitarist Jeff Beck and keyboardist Tony Hymas. The group toured internationally and earned a Grammy Award for the album Guitar Shop. Dale Bozzio “maintained her new-wave persona,” according to Venice Magazine online, and continued to tour as Missing Persons, though she was the only original member of the group. Well into the late 1990s, new and original fans turned out to hear her sing “Destination Unknown” and “Walking in L.A.” with her new backing band. Both Dale and Terry Bozzio remarried other people and had children. Warren Cuccurullo joined Duran Duran, Patrick O’Hearn became a New Age musician, and Chuck Wild composed music for film and television. All of the original members of Missing Persons regrouped and the band toured, together again, in 2001.
Missing Persons, Capitol, 1982.
Spring Session M, Capitol, 1982.
Rhyme and Reason, Capitol, 1984.
Color in Your Life, Capitol, 1986.
The Best of Missing Persons, Capitol, 1987.
Back 2 Back Hits, Capitol, 1997.
Late Nights Early Days, Sumthing Else, 1998.
Remixed Hits, Cleopatra, 1999.
Lost Tracks, Capitol, 2002.
Classic Masters, Capitol, 2002.
People, November 26, 1984, p. 149.
Rolling Stone, May 24, 1984, p. 48.
“Dale and Martha Tell It Like It Is,” Venice Magazine, http://www.venicemag.com/features/daleandmartha.htm (July 2, 2002).
“Missing Persons,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (July 2, 2002).
“Missing Persons,” Journal Sentinel Online, http://www.jsonline.com/letsgo/summerfest98/0626missingpersons.stm (July 2, 2002).
“Missing Persons,” RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/missingpersons (July 2, 2002).
Terry Bozzio, http://www.terrybozzio.com (July 2, 2002).
“Vic Firth Artist: Terry Bozzio,” VicFirth.com, http://www.vicfirth.com/artists/bozzio.html (July 2, 2002).
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