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FUCKING DAY

Fucking Day: Peter Lemongello’s Love ’76

Who’s your favorite lounge singer? Wayne Newton? Gross. Neil Diamond? Basic. My favorite lounge singer ran an investment scheme on his own identity so he could invent home shopping before getting kidnapped by Major League Baseball players and turning to serial arson. My favorite lounge singer is Peter Lemongello, who named himself that on purpose so housewives would see Lemon Jell-O in the grocery store and think “just like that sexy singer!” That’s really why he chose that name! His real name was Peter Limongello, which is pronounced exactly the same. 

Clearly, he’s the best.

Just not for any of the reasons he thinks. He’s not the best looking, he’s not the best singer – he’s maybe not even the best Lemongello. But he’s the best god damn infomercial conman lounge lizard this side of Branson, MO. 

Peter Lemongello looks like Sleazy Partridge in an alternate universe where the Partridges are named like Smurfs. Look, let’s not get lost in the deep Partridge lore this early. There’s a lot of Lemongello to cover. He’s an okay singer – he kind of sounds like a less sincere Barry Manilow on Ambien. He wrote boring nothing songs intentionally because he was sure America needed them. Nobody agreed, so he came up with what sounded like a crazy scheme at the time: He sought out investors in his entire persona, like swank could be traded on the stock market. Then he used that money to make commercials advertising his album, which you could only buy through the TV. 

Sound familiar? 

If you remember basically any commercial from the ‘90s with a beach in it, you have Peter Lemongello to thank for that. He invented the Now That’s What I Call Music sales model. He’s responsible for Pure Moods! The fucking asshole son of a bitch.

Peter Lemongello and his investors made a two-minute long commercial spot for his double album, Love ‘76. It starts with a narrator who’s shooting for sexy, but apparently cut his teeth on horror movie trailers. He sounds like he’s introducing you to a holiday-themed murderer while we zoom in on this silhouette…

Then the lights come up and it’s just…

The narrator explains that this album may sound like the official music of office Christmas parties, but it’s actually an entirely new genre, “Mood Rock.” And hey, real quick Peter Lemongello time-out-

Peter Lemongello got the Mood Rock name from a former fling. She said “your music just makes me so happy. It’s good mood rock.” And then he said “thanks for the name, baby,” and left her. True story — those are his quotes. He tells it often. He seems to think it’s hilarious, and once again he’s totally right for a very wrong reason.

Back to the commercial for Love ‘76, which cuts to a drugged girl erratically weaving on her feet and stays there for a weirdly long time. I guess it’s supposed to be “swooning along to the music,” but it comes across like she just took too many ‘ludes and is starting to think the Lemongello Void isn’t the groovy absence in space she was promised.

The narrator promises we’ll “experience all the warmth and tenderness living in the heart of Peter Lemongello,” and thanks to his horror trailer delivery, that actually sounds like exactly the threat it turns out to be.

It wraps with some information on how you can order the album if you love forgettable music for and by assholes, and that’s it. Seems bog-standard today, but again — he invented it. Marketers used this exact template for decades to sell us compilations about sailboats and the vibes that sailboats bring.

Peter Lemongello would blitz this commercial across an area, then use that ‘heightened profile’ to convince local venues to book him. They did! They regretted it, but they did!

He did actually get a few decent shows using this method, but nothing record-breaking. Here’s the thing about breaking records, though: You can just lie about it and maybe a lot of people won’t care enough to check. Like the New York Times, who did a huge profile piece on him because there’s research (hard), and then there’s letting Peter Lemongello talk about himself for an hour (super easy). 

It is an extremely unflattering piece: Peter comes across like an arrogant lunatic with the empathy of a serial killer and the forgettable good looks of a successful serial killer. I’ll sprinkle a few of those quotes throughout so you get to know the man, the myth, the surely murderer?

Hey, there’s that Lemongello Void again! It’s all black velvet and everything you touch is lubed, but there’s no time for deep Lemongello lore. There’s more scam to cover.

Love ‘76 went on to sell 2 million copies if you don’t check. If you do, he actually sold about 40k albums — which are not bad numbers, assuming you didn’t blow hundreds of thousands of dollars of investor money to get them. 

A savvy artist could at least parlay those sales into a good fanbase for the followup album. Peter Lemongello is not a savvy artist. His next album, Do I Love You, bombed. Say what you will about Peter Lemongello, but that title does seem like it’s warning you about Peter Lemongello – he’s at least a sportsman.

Here are the lessons Peter Lemongello learned from this whole debacle: Singing is hard and people don’t like him, but lying is easy and nobody has to like you for crime.

He went into the scammiest career out there, real estate development, and targeted the scammiest corner of it, cheaply built luxury homes.

Peter Lemongello’s sequel scams did not go well. Try to look surprised.

Peter and his brother Mike were soon kidnapped from one of their construction sites and held for a $50,000 dollar ransom. That doesn’t seem like Peter Lemongello’s fault at first, but as with everything, you just have to wait for it to be.

Weird twist #1: The kidnappers were both Major League Baseball pitchers.

One was Manny Seoane of the Phillies, the other was Weird Twist #2: Mark Lemongello, of the Astros. Mark is Peter Lemongello’s cousin!

Apparently the pair sank $43,000 into Peter Lemongello’s shady scheme, and it did not turn out to be a wise investment. If only there was some sort of high profile warning about this!

Major League Baseball does not pay as well as I would assume, because they could not take that hit. They only kidnapped Peter Lemongello to get their money back. 

Hey, real quick Mark Lemongello time-out-

Here’s his entry on “most hated MLB players.” He took #2!

Peter and his brother… actually hey, real quick Mike Lemongello time-out-

Mike Lemongello was a moderately successful professional bowler best known for his illegal gambling: he’d hustle mobsters and bookies, often without enough cash to cover the bets. He was the inspiration for the movie Kingpin! I can’t prove that last insane claim, but this is a Lemongello article. I don’t have to.

Please note that both Mike and Mark also went with the alternate “Lemongello,” meaning they thought it was a great idea, too. Maybe it was! I’m still laughing about it, more than 40 years later. It’s got longevity.

Anyway, Peter and Mike were dropped off in the woods after paying the ransom, and their kidnappers (who were, once again, two active MLB pitchers — one of them his cousin) fled.

I know this is going to floor you, but try to believe me: a Lemongello boy was not as smart as he thought. Mark Lemongello and Manny Seoane were quickly caught and interrogated, where they turned and revealed that Peter Lemongello had put some of his own workers up to serial arson. They were told to burn down two different homes that his company lost the bid on because…

Actually, I find that Peter says it best:

I fucking love him so much! He’s bringing stalker vibes to luxury home contracting – truly a constant innovator in the field of sucking in unexpected directions.

If nothing else good comes from Peter Lemongello’s career — and it doesn’t — the one bright spot that makes it all worth it is the headline writer who got a hold of this story. God, I hope he retired after this. He’d have to: it’s all downhill from…

That’s about it for Peter Lemongello, who is still lying about his record sales to this day because he knows two things: 

One, if you never admit it’s a lie then it has to be the truth.

And two, never give up on anything no matter how bad an idea it is, or how much everybody hates it.

Just ask Peter Lemongello, Jr.! Who’s been groomed from the age of 3 to make good on dad’s dream! He even appeared on American Idol trying to be a superstar lounge singer just like his father, who tried to be a superstar lounge singer, but wound up something different…

In keeping with family tradition Peter Lemongello, Jr. did some pretty okay singing, but nobody really liked him, and he couldn’t accept that so he’s still hustling.

He has yet to turn to crime.

But he’s a Lemongello boy. Give it time.

2 replies on “Fucking Day: Peter Lemongello’s Love ’76”

“I’m still laughing about it, more than 40 years later. It’s got longevity.”

More like… Lemongevity.

… no wonder my autographed Manny Seone used condom wrapper doesn’t seem to be fetching much on ebay.

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