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?

6. EARTH, WIND AND FIRE
BEFORE (1976-78): Earth, Wind and Fire albums keep going platinum, and they actually score one of their biggest hits with this movie's rendition of "Got to Get You Into My Life." What gives?

AFTER: EW&F's platinum streak continues unabated well past 1979. Whatever Egyptian god Maurice White and the guys pray to seems to have done the trick. Perhaps it's because they're the only act in the movie to use their real name and perform as if you could be watching them on the Midnight Special. Lesson learned? Don't be a Pepper--be yourself!

7. STEVE MARTIN
BEFORE (1976-78): Steve Martin's first two comedy albums are huge hits, and while this movie is stinking up theaters, the Wild and Crazy Guy has a summer hit single with "King Tut."

AFTER: After two Top 10 albums, Martin's first post-Pepper effort, Comedy Is Not Pretty, only makes it to No. 25. His movie career fares little better. With the exception of The Jerk in 1979, he becomes synonymous with flops like The Man With Two Brains, The Lonely Guy and Pennies From Heaven.

8. BILLY PRESTON
BEFORE (1976-77): Billy Preston's Top 40 triumph (two No. 1s and another two Top 5s) had already peaked by 1975. But he still played with the Stones (1976's Black and Blue) and even got a writing credit on a Stones LP, something Brian Jones and Mick Taylor never managed.

AFTER: The traumatic sight of seeing Billy Preston without an Afro wig in this bomb ruins whatever career he had left, save for one hit duet with Stevie Wonder ex Syreeta ("With You I'm Born Again" in 1980). Not only is Preston never asked to appear on any Stones albums or tours again, he reaches this new low: musical director on David Brenner's flop talk show!

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