Pepper Spray

It was 20 years ago this week that Sgt. Pepper dropped a bomb on movie theaters, so where's all the rerelease hoopla?

10. So virginal, in fact, that when an unconscious Peter fantasizes about her, she's dressed up in the trampy costume Lucy in the Sky is wearing. All men are dogs, dogs, dogs!

11. Sgt. Pepper's band members go to retrieve the stolen instruments and let themselves get beat up by a buncha nurses.

12. The Future Villain Band (Aerosmith) captures Strawberry and threatens to turn her into a "mindless groupie," something she's been all along--for that sucky Sgt. Pepper band!

13. Aerosmith, at the height of their druggin' and drinkin', look almost cherubic here. In the script, it called for Frampton to kill Steven Tyler. Tyler threatened to walk off the film unless it was made to look like an accident. So what happens? He lets a girl push him off a platform to his death, leaving the other guys in the Future Villain Band to form the Joe Perry Project on the spot, natch!

14. Fans of those crash test dummies will want to play Strawberry's death tumble over and over. It looks really painful. Along comes grieving Peter Frampton, looking slightly bummed, as if he's got to make alternate luncheon plans.

15. After Strawberry's funeral, someone remembers--the eye dropper! Now Peter looks sad! In a sequence that starts out looking like an ABC Afterschool Special, suicidal Frampton comes alive, goes on the ledge and actually jumps off. Just then the Sgt. Pepper weather vane comes to life in the form of Billy Preston singing "Get Back." Zap! Frampton is prevented from killing himself. Zap! Then he's zapping all the bad people into clergy robes and nun habits. Zap! Then he zaps Strawberry back to life. You wonder why Preston doesn't zap himself back to the roof of Apple studios to jam with the Beatles, and to hell with these impostors.

Let Me Take You Down: The Sgt. Pepper Career Curse:
Anytime some actor or actress in Rebel Without a Cause or The Wizard of Oz dies, the National Enquirer will run a half-baked story on how the cast was cursed to die at a tragically young or ripe old age. Unlike those jinxes, this one here has irrefutable proof. Still don't believe that this movie terminated more promising careers than single-engine plane crashes? May I introduce to you the acts you've known for all these years and the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Curse! See which performers fell and never rose again, which came back after a lengthy dry spell, and find out the lone recording act that suffered no long-term side effects as a result of appearing in this film.

1. THE BEE GEES
HOT STREAK BEFORE PEPPER MOVIE CURSE (1977-78): The Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever soundtrack sells 25 million copies, spawns three No. 1 singles that top the charts for a total of 15 weeks!

COOL STREAK AFTER PEPPER MOVIE CURSE: Their first post-Pepper album Spirits Having Flown also spawns three No. 1 singles that only top the charts for a total of five weeks! Their next single, "He's a Liar," barely makes it to No. 30 in 1981, and the album it came from, Living Eyes, doesn't even dent the Top 40! After the U.S. tires of Barry's falsetto and blames the Bee Gees for disco, the Brothers Gibb can only score hits by getting Babs Streisand and Dionne Warwick to record their tunes. This Bee Gees freeze-out in America is only now thawing. Ha, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.

2. PETER FRAMPTON
BEFORE (1976-77): Frampton Comes Alive! sells 16 million copies, and the title track to its follow-up I'm in You results in his highest-charting single ever (No. 2).

AFTER: Peter couldn't get near the top of the charts ever again, not even with Frampton Comes Alive II in 1995.

Immediately after filming, he is seriously injured in a car crash, which spares him the humiliation of attending the Sgt. Pepper movie premiere. When Frampton's character was on a ledge contemplating suicide, the rowdy Times Square audience laughed aloud and yelled, "Jump! Jump!" Just like New Yorkers!

3. GEORGE BURNS
BEFORE (1975-77): George Burns hadn't seen action like this since Gracie was alive. In 1975, he wins an Oscar for The Sunshine Boys. In 1977, he stars in another box-office smash, Oh, God!, with John Denver.

AFTER: Burns' movie career screeches to a halt with his next three films, Oh God! Book II, Oh God! You Devil and 18 Again. Say goodnight, Georgie!

4. AEROSMITH
BEFORE (1976-77): Aerosmith enjoys its biggest year in 1976 with two Top 10 hits, "Dream On" and "Walk This Way," plus other notables like "Back in the Saddle" and "Last Child."

AFTER: Not even being the Anti-Bee Gees in the Pepper film can break the curse! Drugs and the defection of Joe Perry ensure they will not score another hit single until they make a pact with the Devil (Desmond Child) in 1987.

5. ALICE COOPER
BEFORE (1976-78): Although Cooper's solo albums of this period are not charting Top 40, his big hit singles like "I Never Cry" and "You and Me" bring him some popularity with housewives.

AFTER: The combination of alcoholism and appearing in this film has a devastating effect on the Coop's career. He scores one hit right after the curse with "How You Gonna See Me Now" and spends one week in the Top 40 in 1980. After that, Father Sun doesn't sire another hit single until talking "Trash" with the Devil (Desmond Child) in 1989.

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