Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Beatles and the Muppets

Tonight was the premiere of the return of the Muppet Show.    I have been a Muppets fan since the 1970's and I remember seeing the Muppet Movie at the Drive-in (only time I remember going to a drive in) and being scared when Animal grew really large.    As a child I had Muppets posters on my wall, listened to Muppets records and played with Muppets toys.    I have watched ever Muppet movie and television show to date and I was happy to see my beloved friends from my childhood return to TV tonight (even if Kermit dumped Miss Piggy for a terrible pig---what was he thinking?).   Anyhow---this got me thinking about the Muppets and the Beatles.

It first should be pointed out that the Beatles were fans of the Muppets.    John writes about "laying in bed watching TV--COOKIE" on the song 1970 that was recorded by Ringo Starr.   As well as imitates Cookie Monster in his own song, "Hold On."   John calls Sesame Street by name in the song "Steppin' Out."   And it has been said that he enjoyed watching the Muppet Show on TV with Sean.   Such a shame that John never appeared on either Sesame Street or the Muppet Show---his friend Elton John was on the program and I know John Lennon would have been an amazing guest.

When George Harrison was on Saturday Night Live on November 20, 1976, Jim Henson also had a spot on the show and his Muppets appeared on a regular basis during that season.   The opportunity arose for Geroge and Kermit to meet.

While Ringo has been known for doing children's programing (The Point and Shining Time Station), he didn't appear with the Muppets until 2008, when he was interviewed by them for the Grammy awards.  

None of the Beatles have ever appeared on the Muppet Show or on Sesame Street.   It wasn't because they weren't interested.   George showed interest in appearing with the Muppets.   Muppeteer, Jerry Nelson talks about it in a 1999 interview:
Were there any stars that they tried to get but it never happened?
NELSON: They tried their best to get the Beatles, Paul was willing to do it, but we had to hire the whole band… When he was with Wings. It was too big time. We just didn’t have the money. I think George would have done it, but they kept trying to negotiate with Paul.
I would think Ringo would have done it in a heartbeat…
NELSON: Ringo probably would have to. If they had asked me, I would have said, "Hey! Get them! Don’t dicker… Get the ones who are ready to commit."

On the other side of things, it is obvious that Jim Henson and others that worked on the show were Beatle fans.   Subtle things such as naming one of the characters "Sgt. Floyd Pepper" to bigger things such as the Sesame Street Beetles made that clear.

The Sesame Street Beetles and their song, "Letter B" just might have been my first exposure to the Beatles.    The song was shown in 1979 (I would have been 3 years old---and watching Sesame Street.  I truly do remember it).   It was a parody of the Beatles" "Let it Be."

Jim Henson's sketches for the Beatle Muppets


According to the Muppet Wiki,   Northern Songs sued the Children's Television Workshop for 5.5 million dollars because the song sounded too much like the Beatles.    The lawsuit was dropped, however because Michael Jackson obtained the rights to the music.    Supposedly Paul McCartney wrote the guy who wrote the song a letter stating that he liked "Letter B."

The Muppet show had the character performing countless Beatles songs including Octopus' Garden, With a little help from my friends, While my guitar gently weeps, Good Day Sunshine and more.  

Will the new Muppets show have any Beatles references?    I am not sure---but I am going to stayed tuned and find out!

1 comment:

  1. The characters of the Muppets are so destroyed recently, that I guess you could say Kermit is dead. Certainly his creator is. And so is Paul -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T60X_vwkoKw Sorry, long gone. Ever seen the effervescent yet generous emotional man again? No? There's a reason.