This is a Tribute to....

Domenico Monardo

Domenico MECO Monardo
More known as
MECO

The King of Instrumental Dance music

I was very happily surprised when I got a mail from Meco (creator of the famous Star Wars Disco LP) a while back, in which he told me how much he enjoyed my work with, for example, his longtime friend Gloria Gaynor.
That mail led to an almost two hours interview and this page is the result of that interview in which Meco tells stuff he never told anyone before...
I'm proud to present...
MECO

In Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania on November 29th, 1939 - a boy named Domenico Monardo was born.
His parents were of Italian descent and all of his family called him by the common Italian nickname for Domenico - which is - Meco.
He grew up in this little town with his parents, a brother and three sisters. When he was a small boy, he had this cousin who also was called Meco, so as Meco tells me; "I thought the whole world had Meco's all over the place." Hahaha! [Both laughing] "But it turns out that it is a very unusual name. But again it's really a common Italian nickname. Not one so common in America as it's probably in Italy. In Greece a very common nickname is Nico, and one in Japan, a female Miko. - So when I first came out with Meco as an artist, I mean, radio stations had never heard of me, they thought I was a Japanese group." Hehe! [Both laughing] "They were pronouncing it wrong - it was fun!

His father was the only one in the family who was playing any instruments. He played the valve trombone in a traditional marching band. It was the town local band and was patterned after an Italian local band, where they would march in the streets. They would play for weddings and funerals and different celebrations.
Discoguy; How come you started with music? I know your father used to teach you - but was it something you wanted to do or...
"Yes. It was not something that was forced on me. Somehow, it's funny now that you ask me that, what was my initial inspiration? I believe it was hearing the band that he played in. And then he would have his friends come to the basement of our house and practice. I remember sitting on the steps of the basement listening to them practice, I must have been 4 or 5 years old and I was totally entranced by it and in my mind I was thinking 'Gee, I'd like to do that.' That's where I got, I guess, my inspiration and feeling for it."
Meco's father wouldn't let him play the instruments. He taught his son how to READ the music and notes for about a year, before he let his son start playing the slide trombone, instead of the drums as Meco wanted himself. But Meco think this sight-reading training was very good and he continues; "That's one of the reasons, I believe, I and probably other musicians who have the same talent as I, are able to read music so well. I'm talking about sight-reading music, where someone puts a piece of music in front of you..."
And you can hear it in your head?!
"Yes, and then play it or sing it or whatever. Instantly - perfectly."
Yes, that's amazing!
"Yes, it is an amazing talent and that is my, was my, best talent and that's the reason why, I believe, that I moved from a trombone player. I was a great trombone player and I should have been very happy as a trombone player, but I wasn't, I was frustrated not fulfilled. I wanted to do more because I found it so easy to read the music that was put in front of me. When I went to New York to become a studio session player and I walked in on the sessions and the music that would be put in front of me - all the other musicians would have to work at it 10-15 minutes to a half hour or more to learn the music - and I would know it instantly. So it was boring."
So, you think this training of your father's where he taught you to sing the sheet music like 'La-la-la-la-la', was what made develop this talent?
"That was the whole key to learning to read, because, you have to vocalize it like you just did. It's called 'sofeggio' in Italian. And in the rest of the world it's the simple knowing of notes by these notes. Instead of A - B - C - D - E - F - G, which everybody learns, is 'Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do' - like the 'Sound of music' - and that is an old old way of learning music which has been lost to these past couple of few generations. This is the one that is most deeply rooted in and the one that is much more positive to learn probably than the A-B-C-D..."

Eastman School of Music At the age of 17 he won a full music scholarship and went to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. It was here he got his first more professional training, because that's when he was trusting to the company of hundreds and hundreds of other professional people, students and teachers. Meco spent five years there and during this time, he and the student orchestra from the Eastman School of Music was invited by the State Department to go to 37 different countries, including Russia, on a good will tour. So, in 1960-61 they went to Sweden, England, all of Europe and even Egypt, the middle East and of course the profound one month they spent in Russia.
After graduating from the Eastman School of Music, he joined the army and played the trombone in the West Point Band at West Point for 3 years.
When could you start living on your music?
"That's when I went to New York City in 1965. And I think that is my very very beginning of my professional career. When I came there I only knew one person and that was Chuck Mangioni. Chuck Mangioni had a big hit with "Feel so good". He's a trumpet player and a flugelhorn player, he's actually an ex-classmate of mine from the Eastman School of Music and he was already in New York so I could pick up the phone and I could ask him for his help. And he did help me to make a couple connections and I started to work here and there as a trombone player."
Yeah, and the rest is history???
"Yep. But mostly I starved though. I starved for at least three years. I don't wanna make it sound like I got there and everything happened but for three years it barely paid the rent."
I know you've been working as a commodity broker, but have you ever worked with something else - or has music been your life?
"It's always been music, but until I retired in 1985. So, for 15 years it has not been music. But I'm 60 years old now, so except for the last 15 years there always been nothing but music."

So, You went to New York and had some three hard years, then what happened?
"Yes, I went to New York in 1965 as a session trombone player and I worked my way into that. It's a very very tough job to get by the way."
Yes, I can imagine that.
"Yes, it's hard to get in and once you get the opportunity you'd better be good or you'll only get one chance. And I know a lot of people who did get the chance and failed at the chance. So, from '65 I played the trombone. And then about 1968 I met somebody and we became good friends, in fact we became room mates. His name is Rod McBrian and he was a song writer. He was also an engineer in a studio. So consequently he was able to go in late at nights when nobody was there and fool around and experiment with his own projects. So we were friends and he knew I was a trombone player and he would bring me in there to help him explore possibilities for records and stuff and that's when we both discovered that I had a talent for arranging. Because he could not read music, so he relied on me to write down the notes of what was in his mind.
The next thing I became known for was horn arrangements. Horn players and a horn section. It became my horn section. In other words when somebody wanted something in New York in the late 60's to be played in a Pop style, they would call me as the contractor to put together the horn section for them. Because I had the reputation to pick the good horn players."

So, When did you start arranging and producing?
25 top Bubblegum Hits "The first one I ever arranged probably was a song called "Finders keepers" by a group called Saltwater Taffy. Which I find, right now has been re-released on a CD, called 'The 17 greatest all time bubblegum hits'. That's the one that was produced and written by my friend Rob McBrian and that's where my name is on as arranger. So that was my first arrangement and that must have been 1969-1970, in that time period."
Do you, by any chance, remember which the first recording you ever worked or played on was?
"Ahhh, gee... Hahaha! Well, the first song I ever played on - No, I don't remember that."

MECO You've said that you're a mediocre composer, but you have written some material yourself, right!?
"Oh yes! I've written songs over the years and as Meco, the recording artist Meco, I think I have 14 albums that I've done. Out of the 14 albums I must have written half a dozen original songs myself, or co-written it with somebody. And they're just OK, none of them were ever hits. So, you know, I'm not a great writer. I've not lived under that illusion. Not a composer per say, I'm not a great composer. And I'm not even a great arranger. I'm a good arranger, but I'm not a great arranger. And if you wanna succeed in this business you must do everything with the word great surrounding it. Not the word good. Because the world is full of good, and there's just very few great. That's why you see the name of Harold Wheeler - the great arranger - associated with me. Both for Gloria Gaynor, Meco and other projects. Because he's just a phenomenal phenomenal arranger."

In 1973 Meco was early to hook on the Disco trend when he formed DCA - Disco Corporation of America, with his friend Tony Bongiovi and this third guy, who we want to keep nameless by different reasons.
Why did you the three of you decide to form DCA?
"Ah, yes - that's a good question. I thought that you might ask me that. So, I'm going back now and remembering how it happened. And here's how it happened: Right about 1973 or so, I had known Tony Bongiovi, he is a recording engineer and having been a musician doing sessions as an arranger and a trombone player I would run into him on occasions 'cause he'd be the engineer. So we became sort of friends, I mean, his last name is Bongiovi and my name is Monardo and we're Italian boys. Then one day in my house I had an idea for a song, to redo "Walk on by", the Dionne Warwick classic song. To redo it and modernize it. So I worked on it in my house, I made the arrangements and I didn't know anybody in the record companies. So I decided to go ahead and make the recording myself using my girlfriend singing it, she wasn't very good, and I spent $3500 of my own money - which is a lot of money, it's like $20000 today - making this record. Thinking that I'd go try to sell the record. Well I did a lot of it at the studio where Tony was working and when it was all done, Tony came to me and says 'You know what, you know what you're doing. You and I should make records together.' And I was flattered because Tony already at that time had a great reputation so I liked that idea.
I would venture to say that within a month I had met the third person in our group while casually having coffee. When having coffee, Tony comes walking by the coffee shop, the other person and I were in the shop and I run out and grabbed Tony and bring Tony in and I introduce him to this guy. And the three of us says 'Why don't we do something together?!' This third guy had a little office, so we decided right then and there to sign a contract. We would find artists and take whatever little money we had together and call our company DCA and that's how we started. And I never did sell my record! But here's an interesting side bar - are you ready for this... Gloria Gaynor as you know, I produced a lot of her records and in one of her albums, I forget which one, I re-did again my arrangement, my version of "Walk on by". So, when you hear Gloria Gaynor's version of "Walk on by" - that's the original production that I did, which got Tony Bongiovi's attention, which really started me as an arranger and producer."

OH - That's great!
"Yeah! So I did finally get to put it on a big time record."
Yeah. That was really interesting.
"Yeah, and her version came out... If I could do it again, I wish I could do it again, I would change some things. I did not have complete control over the whole project. There's a couple of things I would change, but now when I listen to it after all these years it does sound very very interesting and it is a different version than Dionne Warwick's."

MECO with friends - Scott Litt, Harold Wheeler, Jason Corsaro, Meco, Darth Vader, Maury Yeston, Lance Quinn and Tony Bongiovi at Power Station Studios Bongiovi isn't a very common name. I really have to ask; Is Tony Bongiovi related to Jon BonJovi of the rock group BonJovi in any way?
"You don't know that?! Haha! Well, here is the story. Tony Bongiovi is my co-producer as you know through the DCA records. Then when I did Meco, I hired Tony to co-produce the Star Wars records with me along with Harold Wheeler. And so, Tony was an engineer working at a studio and his dream was always to have his own studio. When he got the first royalty check from Star Wars and we're talking 'bout a $100'000 on his side, which was a lot of money in 1977. He used that money to build Power Station, are you familiar with that studio?"
Yes!
"Power Station then became, for at least 10 years, the number one studio in the world. At any given time you could say that in the top ten of the country's hits, probably six of those records were produced and recorded at his studio. Alright, so Tony Bongiovi had his operation that was wonderful and all, now let's flash forward to 1980 and I'm doing the 'Star Wars Christmas' album. And I have a song in the album and I can't find the right singer. I'm auditioning some singers and one after the other they fail. I don't like any of the singers and Tony Bongiovi says to me 'I have a cousin. I know what you're looking for, you're looking for this young voice, his name is Jon. Why don't you have Jon try?' So this kid called Jon Bongiovi comes in to sing. He opens his mouth and within four notes I know that this kid not only can sing my song - but he's a star!"
OH, that's great!
"That's his cousin, Jon Bongiovi. Jon ended up singing on my Christmas record; "R2D2 - we wish you a Merry Christmas", a song that I wrote by the way, a song that became the first professional song that Jon Bongiovi ever sang before he became BonJovi."
That's a great story as well.
"In fact, I'll tell you another further story on Jon. So after we had done a couple of sessions and we finished everything, we left the studio together and it was the first time really we had a chance to talk. We were walking along the streets of New York and I said to him; 'Jon, have you got any ambitions to be anything?' He was 17 or 18 at that time. And he says; 'Well, I don't know. I think I might wanna be in the music business.' I said; 'I'm telling you right now, if you decide you want to be in the music business. You're not gonna be just successful, you're gonna be so successful beyond your imagination.' He goes; 'Get out of here!' I say; 'Trust me. I know these things.' And sure enough my prediction came true in an amazing amazing way."
Have you spoken to him since?
"No, I have not spoken to him. The problem now is that Tony Bongiovi and Jon Bongiovi had legal business problems. Major! So, they don't talk at all, and have not talked. And the consequence of that, my relation with Tony, you know, even though Jon and I happened to have had a great relationship, he associates me with Tony. So, unfortunately we don't, but he does not deny in interviews I've heard and in interviews other people they tell me they've heard, that he tells the story as I just told you that his first professional recording was with me, on my Star Wars Christmas album."
Wow. Great!

OK, back to DCA again... With Disco Corporation of America, you guys were early to get on the Disco train. But did you like Disco music at this time?
"Did I like it at the time?! Just go back with me for one second. You understand, my background is a complete classical musician. I was one of the greatest classical trombone players in the world at that time. And then I moved from that to Jazz. When I was in College I learned about Jazz and I loved Jazz. I played in a Jazz band in College, Chuck Mangioni and Ron Carter, he's the best bass player in the world, we were in the same group together, playing Jazz at school. So, Jazz is my other background. Pop, I hated Pop music. I mean I hated Pop music! The first time I ever caught my attention with Pop music was Petula Clark's "Downtown". That's the first time I realized that Pop music could do something other than repeat three chords over and over again. A little by little, as I was playing those sessions in New York in the late 60's, I got to like Pop music.
Now your question is Disco music. Which is, as you know, a style of Pop music. Quite frankly, the early Disco music that I heard I did not like. The big big hits, the very first ones I heard, were to became top Pop records and of course I loved those records. You know; "Kung-Fu fighting"
[Carl Douglas] and the ones that went on to be big Pop hits. But the real strictly Disco with the mindless ones with just the beat going over and over again with no melody - I did not like that. So, when we started to do ours, we were always looking to find something different. To find an edge to make us first of all stand out the crowd and secondly to help the bands sound the way that Disco was being done. And as you know, after hearing my stuff and talking to Gloria, you know I did a couple of ground breaking things."
Yeah, and you really did some great Disco music there. So, I guess you really started liking it at some point.
"Oh no no. I LOVED it after a while. I'm sorry, I didn't do my story correctly. What happened is when I started in learning then it became so much so that, of course, it was something that I absolutely enjoyed. But just like in any genre - there is good and there's bad. And the bad - I really hated the bad. But the good, I was like, any time Nile [Rodgers] would come out with any of his records with Chic, or any Barry White record. Oh my God - Donna Summer. I mean, these are great records. You can call them anything you want - Disco, Pop - anything you wanna call them, they were just great great records."

Together as DCA, Meco, Tony and this third guy, scored huge successes with artists like Don Downing and of course Gloria Gaynor, the only elected 'Queen of Disco'.
The team's first release was the Don Downing song "Lonely Nights, Lonely Days". Don's follow up "Dream world" was also actually the first record the legendary Tom Moulton went in to mix.
Gloria Gaynor and Meco Have you got any comments on Gloria and your work with her?
"Well, first of all, I haven't spoken to Gloria until about five months ago. From 1980, almost 20 years we did not speak. And as you know I retired from the business in 1983 and Gloria stayed in the business and has flourished. So I did not know anything about how she felt about me or anything, and then recently we made contact first through e-mail and then through the telephone. And it turns out that she does remember that, you know there were three people producing her, but in our production she would not allow anybody to be in the studio when she was recording her vocals except for me. So we had this bond as producer and artist quite often get. Sometimes they don't get a bond, sometimes they just have a war between them. But we had this wonderful bond that she could sing and sing better when she knew I was listening and I was helping her. And that lasted for a couple of years, through of course the three albums. And I remembered that, 'cause it was a wonderful wonderful time and then when I spoke to her - that is one of her major major positive memories of the record business. That relationship that we shared. So, that's my memory and my comment on Gloria. I love her dearly, she's a wonderful wonderful talent and more than that, she's a great lady."
Meco produced Gloria's first, Never can say Goodbye album, followed by the next two; Experience and I've Got You.

What about Tom Moulton... He was brought in to work on both the Don Downing and Gloria albums, and in the Gloria album he segued all the songs together. This was the first time anyone had done something like that...
"And it was all his idea."
But, what did you think of his idea when he first presented it?
"Well, first - Tony and I both thought that we were dishonoring Gloria... What he was suggesting was; 'Let the singer sing for a minute and then let the music play.' Because after all, when people were dancing, and he was way ahead of his time, they're really not listening to songs per say. They are dancing to beats, like in the raves and everything - there's no melody, there's the beat, so he saw that that was what people wanted. It was nice to hear the song for a minute or so, but then if you just hear the music and then you could imagine the song in your mind. That's a very very powerful thing.
And he was the first one to see it, so when he suggested that, we were on the side of Gloria or any other artist - thinking she'd be very angry 'bout this. But when we heard what he was talking about, try to remember nobody ever did that before. You know, we would make a mix of the first minute or so with her singing and then we would take her voice out and tear the track down and start doing other things. And as we heard what we were doing, we found out that he was right. That it was exciting and wonderful and of course that opened the door for doing new things and we went right along with it."

I've heard you'd said afterwards that it was "A Revelation"...
"Yeah! He set the ground work and allowed Meco to happen. You remember, that was in '74 and Meco was not until '77. I had three years to think about instrumental music."
Was this idea of Tom's an inspiration for you to do the same with the Star Wars album?
"Well, at that point it was very common for people to have whole sides of an album without a break. So it wasn't that part of it, but it was the fact that he opened the door to the fact that people would listen to instrumental music if there was something magical there. It has to be something magical, it just can't be the beat, the bass drum and girls going 'Oh' and 'On' or something like that. So, when I went and segued Star Wars, I always thought of Tom. I always thought; 'What is there here that I can do to make it magical?' And that's why Star Wars is magical. It's the most magical instrumental ever made. And that's without ego, I'm not saying that with my ego. You can listen to it today and you can hear and see the movie. So it's the same as you can hear Gloria's track and see Gloria. You can hear my track and see the movie and that was my intention and Tom Moulton was the first one to show the way."
Tom Moulton - Have you got any comments on him as well?
"Tom Moulton is a great guy, one of the best guys I've ever met and was great to work with and I still talk to him by the way. He's a dear friend. A great guy!"

Meco in studio with Tony Bongiovi, Harold Wheeler and writer Albert Goldman Meco and DCA went on working on different acts and one of the next acts they worked with was Carol Douglas' hit album "Doctor's Order's". But on this album the guys were not fully credited and of course I had to ask why?
Meco; "Again, we had that third partner and it was his bad blood between him and the persons in Midland International, and it was a business problem. Because of that the creative credit was not given, it's a very similar story to, as you know, the Diana Ross situation..."
Yes, let's take the Diana Ross situation right now.
"So, I lived in New York on 62nd and Columbus, right next to the Lincoln Center. And so did many other famous people in that building, it was a brand new building and it was a very great location. Among the famous people in my building was a guy named Nile Rodgers, as you know who he is! And the first thing to connect me and him was that he did all his work at Power Station. So I would see him all the time there and I thought we became sort of friends. And then one day I'm walking through the park, a beautiful day in Central Park and I see this incredible looking woman and she's roller-skating up front. So I run up there, I tried to be cool and tried to be hip and stuff. We started talking and it turns out that I told her where I lived and she said 'OH, I know somebody in that building.' And I said 'Who?' and she said 'Nile Rodgers. He is my ex-boyfriend.' So it was Nile's ex-girlfriend and she then became my live-in girlfriend through many many years. So that's how in the first place I'm connected with Nile. So, that was way back in I guess - '79-'78 something.
So, flash forward to 1980 and Nile had Chic, he have had all these hits. He had more big records than me and I had Star Wars of course and the Empire Strikes Back was coming out. And I wanted to do something different, I didn't want to repeat the same style of music I was doing so I wanted to bring somebody else on board and who better than Nile Rodgers?! With his great group and his great rhythm section I could imagine the Harold Wheeler's arrangements, my view on how I look at things, Nile's band playing - Oh my God, it would have been wonderful wonderful stuff. So I approached him and he said he couldn't do it because he was working with this no name singer named Diana Ross."
Hahaha! [Both laughing] "So I said; 'Alright, alright - you got to do Diana Ross - it's Diana Ross.' So he said 'Why don't you play for me?' I said 'You know I've retired, I don't play trombone any more and I haven't played trombone except to fix up some parts on my own records. Or play solo in my own records, for three years or so.' And he says 'The horn section I've been using, I'm just not happy with them. They don't play like your horn section does.' And I said 'Well, hire my horn section, without me.' He said 'No, no. I got to have you.' So anyway, he talked me into it and I got him the horn section and we, the horn section and I, did all the playing for the Diana Ross album. Of course you know the story 'bout the solo, how we did four takes. Do you know the story how we did four takes?"
No, I can't say I do.
Diana Ross - Diana album "Oh, I'm sorry. So, we did all the songs actually - the horn section - and it was really good. Nile did the arrangements, I did not do the arrangements, we just played - but they were wonderful to play. When it was all done and I was packing my horn ready to go, Nile says 'Wait! One more thing. I want you to play solo on one thing.' I said to myself 'OK. Nile probably wants to do one of the ballads, play something pretty.' And he puts "I'm coming out" on. I said 'You want me to play a solo on this? What kind of solo?' He says 'A Jazz solo.' I said 'Get out of here, Nile. If you put Jazz on here, people will turn your record off. Nobody cares about Jazz, Jazz is a thing of the past.' But Nile said 'Trust me, try it!' So we get to the section where he wants the solo and I start playing and the first take is pretty terrible. And then we do a couple of more terrible takes and he says 'Let me start taping them.' So, we took take one and it was pretty good and then we did four takes in total. Four different versions of Meco playing four different times since we had multi-tracks that we could do that on. And among those four takes is one wonderful take if we took pieces of this and pieces of that. So that what's he was gonna do later in what they call - 'the mix'. So in those days it was 24 tracks and so he had four tracks of Meco that he could pick one track of. And we were very happy with the result.
Then the story goes as you know that Diana Ross hated the album - she absolutely hated it - and took the album and took everything and went back to Detroit to mix it there. And she was so angry she'd left all the names off of all the musicians in the studio and everything. The only names she left on there was the production names of Nile and his partner. So, the story comes back to me after I hear the record and I go back to Nile, I say 'That's not the solo we would have done.' He says 'No.' What happened was - the engineer when he looked at the four tracks and Diana Ross heard, it says you know 'Meco 1', 'Meco 2', 'Meco 3' & 'Meco 4'. He took 'Meco 1' thinking that that was the best one. So instead of combine the four and making it a great great solo he just took the first version that I did. Which is a good solo, but it has a few little mistakes and things in it. So I never got to hear, ever, the really good one that I did and it turns out it was a Top Ten record and again it's probably the only real Jazz solo in a Pop Top Ten record in the last 50 years. And unfortunately it's not the one Nile and I most wanted. But as you know, I believe, they've made up since then."

Yes, he has worked with her afterwards.
"Yes, he's a conductor on her tour. And that's good to know that. Yeah."

MECO - Star Wars album But 1977 saw the big break for the recording artist Meco. The first Star Wars movie hit the silver screen this year and everything related to the movie was hot, specially the music in Meco's Disco version. With his Star Wars and other Galactic Funk album he sold platinum and scored his record label's, Millennium Records (a sub-label of Casablanca Records), first Number 1 hit. Through Meco's version of the Star Wars score music you could visualize the movie much better than in the John Williams original soundtrack, and it did sell much better than the Williams' version.
According to Billboard Magazine, the single - "STAR WARS" by MECO is still the biggest-selling instrumental single of the last 50 years, as it reached platinum status in 1977 in the United States - an official 2 million records sold according to the RIAA and another 2 million sold around the world!
The success with the Star Wars album also got Meco a nomination as 'Best Instrumental Pop performer' in 1977, a prize that was actually won by not other than Meco's competitor - John Williams. Ironic but true.
The whole A side of this album is dedicated to the Star Wars movie, but the B side is filled with "Other Galactic Funk". The story goes about the creation of that side, that when Meco was once walking through Central Park in New York, he saw this group of kids playing drums. Meco approached them and they ended up playing the ground to the suite of the B sides three songs, named "Other", "Galactic" and "Funk". Get it?!
Still in 1977 he also, somehow, found the time to release his Encounters of Every Kind.

Star Wars logo You're known to be a true cinema and science-fiction fan, you saw Star Wars several times and that led to the creation of the Star Wars album.
"Let me say one thing that I have never said to anybody. The story has been told a million of times, how I went to see the movie and that's how I got the inspiration. But if you really think about that, isn't it the wildest thing that you could possible imagine. Put yourself in that situation today, this very day, and the movie is going to open. Well, let's go back a year. Let's call the movie "the Sixth sense". When the movie opens, you go to see the movie and you come back. You are enthralled with the movie, you know it's a brilliant movie. And then you go make a record of it?! I mean, it's really wild isn't it?"
Yes.
"When I think about what I did, nobody came to me, nobody said 'Meco, why don't you do this.' Nobody says 'Here's some money go make a record of this movie.' It was just my own... It was magical, it was just out of this world when all that happened."
Was it just your feelings for this movie that made you create this great record?
"Yes."
I do love the sound effects you put on there.
"That was... The sound effects to me was the movie, in other words, the story goes that when I bought the soundtrack album. John Williams score was wonderful and everything, but it was not the movie. It was not a re-creation of the movie. So, how could I re-create the movie aside from putting the voices of people, which I could not do. I could not get that permission of course to do so. Though I was left with the other thing which was the sound effects, which was even more important to me. The R2D2 sound effects, space ships and all that - they were never done before. It was all brand new stuff."
Yes. How did you create them?
Star Wars - R2D2 "Well, R2D2 was a hard one to re-create. Because we did not have synthezisers, contrary to popular believe, we did not have synthezisers in 1977 as we had even three years later. It was about two years later when synthesizers in the form of a keyboard became something that everybody could buy. We had these synthesizers, where you have these patches, these cords where you would patch one little bay into another bay. So that was to create one little sound 'Whoop'. Patch another one and it would go 'Whooo'. And you had to patch these sounds together, there was no keyboard that would just play these sounds. So you would record individual sounds onto a tape and then you would cut the tape, edit the tape and hopefully make a sound. That's what Tony Bongiovi did, I did not do that. Tony Bongiovi spent 8 hours one day making R2D2. He called me and said 'What do you think.' and I could not believe, he copied it - 'cause Tony's a genius - he copied it, you know... You would not know, you would think that George Lucas gave me R2D2, which he did not. We made R2D2. Of course the other sounds they where all done with sound effect records and stuff that we copied and changing things, slowing tapes down, speeding them up. All kind of little tricks like that. But there were no synthesizers."
That's fascinating. I have to ask... Your father, what did he think about this...
"OH my God! Haha! Well first of all, he was thrilled... You know I had Gloria Gaynor and Carol Douglas Top Ten records in country in the same time, in the later part of '74 and the early part of '75. So he was very proud, but all the horn players that I had in my horn section, they were all hired to be the horn section of a show called Saturday Night Live when it first opened. And they wanted me of course, but I was already beyond being a trombone player. So my dad knew about that and every time I would talk to him, every time I'd come home or whatever for a couple of years there, he was heartbroken because he would be seeing Saturday Night Live and he'd see all those guys and I wasn't there. And he wanted me to be in that so he could be proud of me, to tell his friends to turn on the TV and see Meco play. So then when Star Wars came out and it became big and bigger and bigger and finally Number 1, and even # 1 in that little town in Pennsylvania, and of course, I mean, he was thrilled to death.
Then I sent him and my brother and his wife and two nieces, sent all of them to Italy for a 2 weeks vacation - holiday. For him to re-visit his hometown which he had not been to in 40 years. So being brought there and everything, showing that even in his little town in Italy - I was # 1. And he got to see that and of course, and he was so proud of that."

Yes, I can imagine.
"That was the highlight of his life to be able to go back as the person who left that poor little town and now he's the proud father of somebody who has a # 1 record in the world. So, Yes! My father was very very proud. Unfortunately my mother died right after "Never can say goodbye", so she never get to see Meco. But my dad did. He lived to be 85 years old, he lived long after that."

MECO - the Wizard of Oz album Next, In 1978 you released "the Wizard of Oz", which you have said is among your best work.
"I spoke to someone the other day, I'm working on a project right now and I spoke to the synthesizer/keyboard player in New York and he didn't know it was me he was speaking to actually, but he was thrilled to death because he has "the Wizard of Oz" vinyl. He has had it for all these years and he says... This is very cool, he said 'It's so great and you got all those samples. You got the samples from the movie for your record. And I said 'Hello, samples?! In 1978 there weren't samplers, they were not even invented.' He said 'But how did you do all that? Who did the witch?' I said ' That was my girlfriend.' 'Who did the dog?' and I said 'That was my dog.' 'Who did the wizard, where the wizard goes 'You will go?' That was just the guy who copies the music for me. The Cowardly Lion was the owner of the studio in Long Island, he just happened to be a guy who could do that Cowardly Lion voice, I was just happy to have him there. And it goes on and on and on like that and none of that was sampled. The little munchkins, those were all voices that were recorded at one speed, half speed, and sped up again. The guy who goes 'We thank you very sweetly for doin' it so sweetly.' That was me. So it was such a thrill to hear all these years later that somebody thought that I sampled from the real movie. And That is a really high compliment indeed."
Yes, absolutely.
"And Yes, it is my favorite. As you know, it's the only one of my albums where both sides are dedicated to the music from that film."
Dick Clark, MECO and Jimmy Ienner The success of this album devoted to the classic Judy Garland movie with the same name, led to Meco's only live performance, which he did in the NBC TV show - Dick Clark Live. Dick Clark said the following about Meco; "In 1977, Meco Monardo accomplished something no one else has ever done to the best of my knowledge. He was the first one in history to out-sell the soundtrack of a motion picture with his own distinctive version of a film's music. The music was totally danceable, and broke new ground. It's no wonder the STAR WARS THEME went to # 1. I loved his treatment of music from THE WIZARD OF OZ. Again, Meco created something innovative. The fun and the excitement gave a whole new feel to that totally familiar and well-loved music."
the Wiz - Soundtrack But I have to ask... In the same year Michael Jackson & Diana Ross among others was in the movie "the Wiz"... I want to ask you if they were inspired by you or you were inspired by them?
"Oh no no, neither. "The Wiz" had nothing to do with my decision to do "the Wizard of Oz". My decision came from this: I was having legal problems with my record company and then I snuck away for a couple of weeks, to be out of touch. And next what I decided to do, it just came to me in a dream. It definitely came to me as an inspiration in a dream. Now the interesting thing about that is "the Wiz", the Broadway show "the Wiz", was on Broadway at that time for many years. And you know who the arranger of "the Wiz" was?"
No, but I can guess it was your friend Harold.
"Yes, Harold Wheeler. So, Harold was out there at the same time, 'cause Harold did my "Wizard of Oz" and at the same time was on the Pop charts."
As mentioned above there were also a movie soundtrack called the Wiz and this movie included the hit song "Ease on down the road" sung by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Both acting in the movie together with Richard Pryor and Lena Horne.
There's also still a CD available of the 1975 Broadway Super Soul Musical - the Wiz. This cast featured artists as Charlie Smalls, Dee Dee Bridgewater and a later to become Disco Diva - Stephanie Mills.

Superman New superheroes came flying through the sky and space as a result of the huge success of the Star Wars movie. One of the biggest chart busters were of course the movie about the little boy from outer space who ended up in the small planet called earth. With his enormous strength, flying abilities and his blue tights and red mantle, he was - Superman.
In 1979 Meco did his version of the "Superman" music, but it wasn't that successful and one reason to that lack of success might have been what famous Disco writer and producer, Patrick Adams once told me - Discoguy; "In early November of 1979 Jerry Greenberg, the president of Atlantic Records asked if I would be interested in producing Herbie Mann. I had been a huge fan of Herbie Mann since I first saw him at the Village Gate in NYC in 1968. Warner Brothers had a great investment in the Superman movie that was scheduled for release at Thanksgiving time. The mission was to produce a Dance oriented LP featuring the cut "Superman". John Williams had done the score of the movie and maybe we could score a "Star Wars" type hit. When we arrived for the first session at the Power Station Studio I was shocked to hear that across the hall Meco Menardo was already recording the Superman theme. He even had the original musical score sheets courtesy of John William. All I had was a cassette. On that cassette was clearly printed that the right of first recording was evoked. This meant that no-one could release a recording of the theme until 2 weeks after the first record by John Williams was released. It was bad enough that I had to go out behind John Williams but then to go against MECO, who had scored the huge success with Star Wars too, That was too much!!
With out consulting with anyone I decided to take a big gamble. I put all of the Album resources into redoing "Superman" by Celi Bee. This way we could put out our "Superman" record 2 weeks before anyone else. I took a lot of flack for that, But it worked! Herbie had his biggest POP single ever, somewhere in the 20's on the charts. All the other versions never went higher than 50 on the charts. The Album was Stereo Reviews best LP of the month."
This was what Patrick told me about "Superman".
"Yes, I read that. That's the one that really convinced me that we should do an interview. Just for you to get that out of him and to talk about that was just amazing. I did not know about that by the way."
OK, because that was just what I wanted to ask you - If you did know about it and what you thought about it?
"I think it was so cool that he actually did that. He heard me doing that and then decided to go do that other song, what a great move that was on his part. And of course, his was a hit and mine wasn't. He's correct, he's right there. I did not know Patrick Adams personally except to say hello to him. I don't know why we never really did anything together but we never did."
But during 1979 Meco recorded, besides Superman and Other Galactic Heroes, an album called Moondancer and another Space inspired movie score; StarTrek - the Black Hole.

MECO - the Empire Strikes Back In 1980 Meco strikes back when the second Star Wars movie is released, both the movie and Meco's 10" EP (!!!) record of the music from the movie is called the Empire Strikes Back. This time Meco had closed a deal with RSO Records, but since RCA already had 3 acts doing "Empire" music, RSO's President - Al Coury, just committed to a 10" EP for this release.
He also recorded the single "Shogun" and the Christmas in the Stars (the Star Wars Christmas album), the later which included singing by Jon BonJovi as mentioned above. Actually even George Lucas himself was part of the creation of the X-mas album. He and Meco had a two hours conversation on what Meco could and couldn't do with the different Star Wars characters in this album. Initially the album was credited as 'Album concept by Meco Monardo', BUT George Lucas loved the record so much that he asked if he couldn't be included in the credit. So the next copies pressed had the credit; 'Album concept by George Lucas and Meco Monardo'.

1981 gave us An American Werewolf in London and the single "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Meco returned in 1982 with the albums Pop Goes the Movies and Swingtime's Greatest Hits. In 1983 he gave us Ewok Celebration and finally, just before he decided to retire from the music business, he recorded the Hooked on Instrumentals album.
Some soundtracks he would have loved to make his own 'Discofied' version of, is the TV-series Miami Vice and the score music to ET. ET he probably would have recorded if the timing would have been better. Now the movie was released right in the middle of his work with 'Pop Goes the Movies' and 'Swingtime's Greatest Hits'.

MECO - the Best of... Signed: Claes (Discoguy) May the force be with you always - Meco With the big boom of the CD market, a Best of Meco CD was released in 1997. This CD does include the BEST of Meco's work, especially since most of his classic releases like 'the Wizard of Oz', 'Superman' and others only are available on second-hand vinyl these days...
There's also a song called "Meco's theme/3 W. 57". 3 W. 57 is actually a New York address which was the address of Meco's label at that time - Millennium Records.
On this CD you'll also find songs like; "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band", "Empire Strikes Back Medley", "Theme From Close Encounters", "Themes From The Wizard Of Oz: Over The Rainbow/We're Off To See The Wizard", "Star Trek Medley", "Moondancer", "Love Theme From Superman", "Werewolf (Loose In London)" and "Star Wars Medley: Title Theme/Imperial Attack/the Desert And The Robot Auction/the Princess Appears/the Land Of The Sand People/Princess Leia's Theme/Cantina Band/the Last Battle/the Throne Room and End Title".

Another question I've been asking myself is, how you could get hold of the music score before the movies were released?
"A good question. It all goes back to Star Wars. A flashback there for a second. I see this movie, it's a wonderful movie. I go and make a deal with Casablanca through Millennium. And all this happens in a matter of days and now I contact Harold and I ask 'How can we do this? We need the music.' So, I called 20th Century in California, the publishing company, and introduced myself and they don't know who I am. But the girl on the phone, you can tell sometimes if you have a friend or not, she happened to sound like she might... And I said 'Can you PLEASE give me the score?' '- No, no, no. It's not something we can do.' So, I hung up the phone and I immediately called the local florist and had a dozen red roses sent to her. I got the scores within two days."
Hahaha! [Both laughing]
But, could you "use" her again for the other scores?
"No, no. That's Star Wars, but after you've had a # 1 record, when you make a phone call the next time - they listen. So, after that, in fact, it's an interesting thing that after that both John Williams, Henry Mancini and other composers would send me either invitations to their movies before they came out or scores, songs or recordings for me to listen to and see if I would be willing to do a version of their music."
OK, so they really wanted a Disco version as well.
"Absolutely - Yes! Now remember, what I did - put it all in perspective that is was 23 years ago as Star Wars was # 1. I'm the first one really to have a music from a movie that people wanted to take that music, that album home that had nothing to do with the movie. Except that it brings back memories of the movie. Soundtracks are made today, that when you go to the movie you don't hear this music in the movie. When you buy the soundtrack, most of the stuff, well there's one or two or three songs maybe from the movie, the rest of the soundtrack is still with things that will help you remember the movie. So I was like the ground breaker of that."

Download the FREE basic RealPlayer...

Download the FREE RealPlayer



CLICK to hear some MECO songs...

theme from Close Encounters

MECO's theme"

Other Galactic Funk

Spooky

Star Trek medley

the Wizard of Oz

Main Title Theme/The Land Of The Sand People/Princess Leia's Theme/Cantina Band/The Last Battle/End Title

Darth Vader's Theme/Yoda's Theme

The Battle In The Snow

The Force Theme

Finale

Lapti Nek

Ewok Celebration

Duel Of The Fates/Augie's Municipal Band

Cousin Jar Jar

A Jedi Knight

I'm coming out
Diana Ross

Never can say goodbye
Gloria Gaynor

Reach out (I'll be there)
Gloria Gaynor



CLICK to hear some related songs...

It's only love
Barry White

Dance Dance Dance
Chic

Everybody dance
Chic

Good times
Chic

I want your love
Chic

Le Freak
Chic

Why
Carly Simon

Ease on down the road
Diana Ross & Michael Jackson

I will survive
Gloria Gaynor

He's the greatest dancer
Sister Sledge

We are family
Sister Sledge



CLICK to see
my friend
Matt Tanner's
own made MECO videos...


Star Wars

Empire Strikes Back

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Superman





MECO - the Best of...
Click to buy from
BUY MECO - the Best of CD from the US BUY MECO - the Best of CD from Europe
Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band
Empire Strikes Back [Medley]: Darth Vader/Yoda's Theme
Theme from Close Encounters
Themes from the Wizard of Oz: Over the Rainbow/We're off to See the Wiz
Star Trek Medley, Pt. 1
Topsy
Meco's Theme/3 W. 57
Moondancer
Spooky
Can You Read My Mind? {Love Theme from "Superman"}
Werewolf (Loose in London)
Star Wars: Title Theme/Imperial Attack/The Desert and the Robot Auction
Other Galactic Funk
The Asteroid Field/Finale


MECO - the Complete Star Wars Collection
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BUY MECO - the Complete Star Wars Collection CD from the US Sorry - Can't buy this from Europe
Star Wars (A New Hope): Main Title Theme/The Land Of The Sand People Princess Leia's Theme...
The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader's Theme/Yoda's Theme
The Empire Strikes Back: The Battle In The Snow
The Empire Strikes Back: The Force Theme
The Empire Strikes Back: Finale
Return Of The Jedi: Lapti Nek
Return Of The Jedi: Ewok Celebration
The Phantom Menace: Duel Of The Fates/Augie's Municipal Band
The Phantom Menace: Cousin Jar Jar
The Phantom Menace: A Jedi Knight


MECO - the Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk CD
Click to buy from
BUY MECO - the Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk CD from the US BUY MECO - the Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk CD from Europe
Star Wars [Medley: Title Theme/Imperial Attack/The Desert & the Robot Auction]
Other Galactic Funk
Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band [7" Radio Edit]
Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band [12" Disco Mix]


Diana
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Upside down
Tenderness
Friend to friend
I'm coming out
Have fun
My old piano
Now that you're gone
Give up


Have you got a copy of every Meco record?
"Yes, all except one."
OK, Which one?
"It's the second version of "The Raiders of the lost ark". The first version I did for Columbia Records, it was a single and that's all and everybody has that. Then I did another version for Arista Records and it was the B side of the A side which was a vocal record sung in Chinese of "Anything goes". I don't know if you know about that one, and when they put it out, they did two A sides. In other words - a stereo and a mono. So the B side was never released to the public and somehow that never came out... in other words it's not in my collection and I can not get it right now. I even called Arista and I can't find it. So it's something that's totally missing, nobody in the world probably has it."
Oh, I see...
"And it's a far superior version of "Raiders of the lost ark" than my commercial version that was out."
OK. Hmmm... Interesting.
"Yeah, but I have everything else. And you know, a lot of that is available on my "Best of Meco" CD." Meco continues; "There's actually one more missing, and that's a copy of the Christmas album, where George Lucas' name is next to mine."
OK! But do you know how many songs/recordings you've been involved in as both a musician and as an arranger or producer?
"Oh my God - No! It's gotta be hundreds. Oh, sure! When you're a session player you do so many of them, you do one or two a day. You know, you forget... It rolls like water over your back, you're not even impressed any more of the fact that when you walk in and there's Carly Simon or Frank Sinatra or somebody else. You just do it."
OK. I understand that. But, of all the work you've been involved in, which is your favorite piece of work?
"As Meco?"
No, as...
"As anything?"
Yes!
"Hmmm... I must say that the must satisfying as a trombone player of course was the Jazz solo on Diana Ross' record. As an arranger, my best arrangement I believe is "Walk on by" for Gloria Gaynor. And then even though Star Wars is probably my favorite of the Meco records, The Wizard of Oz has to be the absolute best I ever did."
OK. Are there any other songs by someone else that you would have loved to arrange or produce yourself?
"Oh yeah. Oh my God! Millions of them."
Some you can mention?
"Well, I can mention two or three artists who just constantly put out something that I wished I had done. Number one is Barry White. Practically everything Barry White did, I wished I had done. And K.C. & the Sunshine Band, believe it or not, everyone of his records I wish I had done. And an arranger/producer named Tom Bell, out of Philly International, he did the Stylistics and other groups. Everything he did I wish I had done. Those are my influences and then there's many many other single records that came out, but those are my main influences and the ones I wished I really had done."

MECO So, what do you prefer - being an arranger or producer?
"Obviously the producer, it's far superior than an arranger or a trombone player. Because the producer has a much more complex job and that's what I am attracted to. I have a very analytical mind and I like to think things parallel that you're presented with and to solve that puzzle to end up with this thing called a recording. I used to love that. In my Meco records and even Gloria Gaynor's records they where with big orchestras and they where overdubbed. In other words, we would bring in what we called a rhythm section for a session. Then we would overdub horns in another session and overdub strings and so on. So, each of those sessions had to be conceived, had to be planned - both the timing and the musicians and what was going to happen. I loved that."
When you did these big orchestrations, did you use many musicians or did you use many takes, I mean, did you use to take many different takes and put them together to make it sound even bigger?
"That's a good question. No, well actually it was a little bit of what you just suggested. First of all it WAS huge orchestras, let's use Star Wars like an example. The Star Wars band, the rhythm section consisted of, and this is very big from anybody's view, which was... four guitar players live in the studio, two keyboards, one bass, two drummers and a percussion player. All live in the studio at the same time. And of course, nobody ever did four guitars like that. And the interesting thing is, I ended up erasing all four of those guitars. 'Cause I didn't like it after, I thought it was not working on the record. I didn't like the groove they were laying down and I used my friend Lance Quinn, a very very quick guitar player to basically play all the guitar parts. So anyway, that was that and I created a nice big fat bed to build on top of. Then when we got the string session we did use 16 to 20 sting players and in those days it was common to make a take and you'd say 'OK, that's a good take.' And then we would say to the string players 'Let's try it again.' and in reality we were doubling those parts on another track. So yes, we would take 16 to 20 stings which was a huge, great sound and we would double again and would make it sound even bigger. But I did that only with the strings. I didn't do that with the horns, because now for the horns, my orchestra in the horns is the biggest orchestra you can even imagine, which was four trumpets, four trombones, four French horns and four reeds. And the reed players would play flutes and saxophone. So nobody used that kind of orchestration.
Meco in studio with the 9 times Engineer of the Year winner - Bob Clearmountain Then when that was all done, then I added the magic which was, we had no synthesizers - I told you that earlier - like they have today, and so, a lot of what you hear you think is synthesized - is NOT synthesized. For instance, a trick that I used through out all my records was that the strings when they played something or the trumpets when they played the melody, because remember this is instrumental music, so there's no vocals so the strings will play the melody at one point or the trumpets would at another point. I overdubbed Lance Quinn playing the melody on the guitar and blended that in with whatever was playing the melody. So it created a new sound, people thought it was a synthesizer playing. But it was real trumpets with Lance or real strings with Lance or real French horns with Lance. And then as a trombone player I would overdub myself sometimes to fill in sections I didn't like or erase the trombones that played and I would play four trombones. Sometimes I even played four trombones and then slow the tape down to half speed and then play another four parts and when we play that at the real tempo that became four trumpets. So at certain points of my records you hear eight horns and they're all me. And then I overdubbed millions of percussion's sounds, tympani - all kinds of stuff, so there was an essentially a huge huge huge sound and orchestra which nobody was doing. That's why people was astonished at my records I think."

Yes.
"Are you in for something interesting? I just discovered in the last six months to a year, and it's kind of aggravating me, it just jumps out at me, tell me if you have noticed this yourself. That most movies now and a lot of television shows and even television commercials are using an effect which goes like this... Let's say there's a scene, you're watching a movie, there's a scene and then they're gonna cut from that scene after a couple of minutes to another scene. They are using a transition called the "Whoosh". I used to call it the "Whoosh", which sounds like this "Schwoooosh". And it's a sound effect that connects those scenes as if a wind had just gone by or a space ship had just gone by or somebody shot a bullet, and the bullet just went by or a fast car just went by. And everybody it using that now, I mean, they're over using it and it bothers the heck out of me since I invented that. Every minute of my records, every time something would happen I would introduce the next section with that "Whoosh" sound. I just happened to like that sound. And so I've noticed that - everybody's using it and quite frankly I don't like it. Have you noticed that at all?"
Yes, sometimes.
"Well, now that I have pointed it out to you, you'll notice it and you won't be able to not see it now."
Hahaha. Yeah!
"Well, they're gonna overdo that like they do with everything else and then one day they'll stop."

A Thanks for MECO to me Discoguy saying: To Claes Thank You for Everything ! - Meco

Yeah, Since my pages are mainly Disco orientated - have you got any favorite Disco songs (except for your own work)?
VH1 "It's funny, because last night I finally got to see and read the 100 Greatest Dance Songs that VH1 has been doing. They did the 100 greatest Disco songs and the Number 1 greatest song of all times is Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive". Which I didn't produce by the way. The one I did produce, "Never can say goodbye", that was number 51. And as they ran through and I saw and heard some of them, it brought back a lot of memories of the great Disco songs of course. I like anything and everything Nile Rodgers ever did. With Chic, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge - all his Disco songs, his David Bowie songs. I mean, to me he was, he IS the greatest Disco producer of all times. That's my opinion."
Yes, he's definitely one of the best, absolutely.
"Yes, one of the best. And mostly for me because he was so different than everybody else. When everybody else was doing essentially a lot of the same tricks and stuff. He was different. His rhythm section had a completely different feel, nobody else had a feel like that. Because it was just him and as you know Bernard and Tony playing bass and drums, and those three laid down a pattern nobody else could recreate. No machines, no other musicians could play like them. So, not only did they write great songs but they had this playing going on that nobody else could do. And of course, I mentioned earlier, K.C. & the Sunshine Band - everything he did, as the musicians and the songs - I just loved it. Those two wrote the best Disco songs along with a couple of Barry White's. I loved "the Hustle" [Van McCoy]. I loved that record. When that first came out. I believe it was in '75, do you know Claes?"
Yes, I think it was '75 or '74.
"'74 - you're right. I think it was even before "Never can say goodbye". And it was one of my patterns, one of the ones that I studied to learn why it was so good. Every time I hear a note there, I said why can't I do that? And that's how I got to do it."
I know you don't listen to music that much, but what kind of music do you personally prefer?
"I don't at all. Not at all. I don't listen to music at all as far as entertainment. The only music I ever listened to in my life, my whole life, is music that I needed to listen to or on occasion when I heard something on the radio or somebody played me something, again, those are the ones I liked a lot."
So you don't specially like something like the House sound today, Jazz, Disco or something like that?
"I love it all. But I don't sit around and listen to it, like I sit and watch movies for instance. I mean, that's my passion. Movies has always been my passion and that's what I do for entertainment. While as you know, a lot of film people they listen to music because you don't wanna be working at a job 10 hours a day and then come home and do the same thing. So, that's what happens with me and music. To me it's a job and you know, I love it, but still it's a job."

What do you think of the Disco era when you look back on it now?
Studio 54 logo "Well, the Disco era now, it's really strange, because I was with somebody last night and we were reminiscing a lot about what we did and everything. And my lifestyle was complete opposite of the Disco lifestyle. In other words - to see me in a club was a very very rare occasion. Once I did go to the '54' or 'the Red Parrot' or something in New York, but basically I wasn't that type of guy. First of all, when I had "Never can say goodbye" I was 35 years old, so I was not a kid. I was already a grown person and I was wearing suits and going out to very very wonderful restaurants to try all the different cuisines of New York City and going to Broadway shows, that was my entertainment. So the Disco lifestyle, or the Gay lifestyle if you will, the drugs if you will, and just staying out partying all night was not part of my life until after I stopped doing this. In 1982-83, really after I stopped, when I had 5 or 6 good years of making records, basically when I stopped I met this woman and she was a 'partier' and we partied. And I got that lifestyle at that point, but while I was making the records - I wasn't even aware of that lifestyle. Drugs is not part of my life and I'm not a Gay person, I didn't realize that the big movement in Disco was, of course, is through the Gays."
Have you still contact with any other old Disco acts? Like Gloria or other people?
"Yes, Gloria and I just made contact about 6 month ago for the first time in the last 15 years, through the Internet by the way. The Internet is a wonderful place. It's wonderful and I've only discovered it in the last less than a year. But I'm addicted to it. I'm a big fan of it, e-mail and Internet is a wonderful thing. So, yes! I have contact with Gloria and it's a possibility that we might be doing something in the near future together."
OH - That sounds Great! We're looking forward to that.
"Yep, and let's see Trini Lopez, I produced a Disco album for him and I made contact with him just recently. And actually Tony Bongiovi, Tom Moulton of course. But the acts themselves, Nile - I speak to Nile on occasions - Nile Rodgers. I don't really think I can name anybody else after that."

So, What's your best memory during your years in the business?
"The one single best memory?"
Yeah.
"OK, here's an interesting one. I'm a session trombone player as you know, that's how I started. Then I moved on to become an arranger and then a producer and then I became an artist with Star Wars. And all that time from 1965 to 1977 I made friends of course with studio musicians. So we did Star Wars and again as I told you, we had 16 horn players, you know, my comrades if you will. Who were all working for me, I'm the Boss, right?! We did Star Wars and it became the number one record of the world. When I went to do my second album, which was "Close encounters" and we had the horn session scheduled at the studio - the Power Station. And I walk in expecting to find the ones who we had booked for the sessions and I knew all my friends were gonna be there. I couldn't wait to say hello to them all. And here's what I found;
There were 16 players there, 9 of them brought their kids! 9 of them brought their kids to the session. Aged from 5 to 12, all of them with an autograph book in their hand, all of them with stars in their eyes and all of them, as soon as I walked in, I had to sign autographs of course for the kids. But what really bothered me, at that time, was that these musicians who I sat next to for years and years and years and was buddies with them, they were not my friends anymore. They treated me differently. I was Meco, the number one recording artist, not Meco Monardo the trombone player. So that bothered me, but now when I think about it that was just a wonderful wonderful tribute to me. I mean, to the fact that Star Wars was so big, that it transcended our friendship. And I was never able to have a friendship with those musicians again, because now I was the Boss. You know, worker and Boss kind of relationship. So that was my most interesting memory of the whole time."

MECO - logo

Then in 1985 you decided to retire from the music business! And then what happened?
"I retired and moved to San Antonio, Texas, to be a real estate broker. And I did. I went and got my license. I loved San Antonio and I could have been a very successful real estate broker, problem was there was no market. The economy in the United States was going downhill, so there was no market for homes. So I literally did nothing for 2-3 years, except play Golf. I could not pursue my career as a broker. So I was a major failure. Then I came to Florida as a failure as a broker in 1989 to visit my brother. And then I stayed!"
OK. Haha! But then in 1999 you returned again to co-produce for Yamira with Lance Quinn and Harold Wheeler. But you also recorded the Phantom Menace album (Episode one), called the Complete Star Wars Collection (Dance Your Asteroids Off) and I know you have also promised to return for episode's two and three."
"Yes."
Will we get to hear something more from you as well? Or is it just the Star Wars albums?
"Ah, it's difficult... First of all, I'm 60 years old and I feel like I'm 30 years old. But this business is not a business unless you're wearing a suit. It's not a business of older people, it's a business of young people. OK, 'cause it's always about young people and so, my time has come and gone, I mean, I have the Star Wars that I'm going to do for sure the next two. And if I can do something else, I'm looking forward to that of course. I'm open for suggestions 'cause I'm back again. I've had 15 years of doing nothing and quite frankly I've got the creative juices flowing again and I'd love to do something. But the Star Wars, you can count on those. In fact you're gonna be the first to print this, are you ready?"
Yes!
"Here's some news for you that nobody else has... First I have to go backwards a little bit to tell you the story of why I did not do "the Phantom Menace"... The President of Columbia Records, Don Ienner, called me in February of 1999 to tell me that Columbia Records / Sony Records had the soundtrack to the new Phantom Menace movie, which was coming out May of 1999. And that he wanted to do Meco and other Galactic Funk again. When I say again, Don Ienner is the brother of Jimmy Ienner who was the President of Millennium Records when I did Star Wars 22 years earlier. He now was the President of Columbia Records. So I was thrilled to death and I quit my job. So we're working on the project trying to get the project to happen and it's going to be a big release and everything and I'll skip to the end where in May, after going back and forth and even doing a demo for them. We find out that John Williams, who has a contract that allows him to do so, decided to exercise a clause in his contract which stated that if he wanted to, there could be no other versions of his music released from a film of his on the same label."
Hmmm...
"So my project was killed. And it was killed so late in the game that even though RCA and Universal Records, we were talking to them and they were definitely interested in the project if it was a no go from Columbia, but it was too late for them to gear up, as you know, it takes a long time to get the motions going. To have a record released relative to the movie release. So I ended up with no release. And then I ended up six months later making the record myself, with my own money and having it available on my web-site. And so now we know that in another year and a half or so, there will be the next Star Wars movie. So I know now, that when I go and approach a major label, it will not be the same label that the soundtrack is gonna be released on. Or else I'll have the same thing happen to me. So I know I'm gonna have a major label interested because they were interested the last time and here is my concept...
MECO - Five Stars - cover You're the first one to hear this. Here's my concept for my new CD. As you probably are aware of, this is going to be the fifth Star Wars movie. They started with episode 4, 5, 6 and 1 and this is episode 2. But there is in fact five of them. So, my CD is going to be called "Meco - Five Stars". And it's gonna be five actual stars on the front cover. 5 stars has many meanings; this is the fifth Star Wars movie, it also means in reviews - it's the best it could be, right. And then on another level, I'm going to approach different recording artists and I'm going to end up with five different recording artists, each of them doing a song on my CD as a guest."

OH!
"Yes, so I'll be approaching everybody from Britney Spears to Santana, to Kenny G., anybody who is a Star Wars fan and who wants to contribute a song to my CD."
That's a terrific idea.
"It's gonna be great! It will be fun and it will contain, of course, music from my CD that I have out now which has music from the first four films. Plus three or four new songs from the new movie and one each from my five guest stars."
OK - terrific. That's great news.

Until we can get hold of the "MECO - five stars" album, you really should look into the 'the Complete Star Wars Collection (Dance Your Asteroids Off)'. This is an album every Star Wars fan should have. The CD includes classic tracks from the previous movies/records and some new tracks from, or inspired by, the 'Phantom Menace' movie. Track listing of the album;

Star Wars (A New Hope):"Main Title Theme/The Land Of The Sand People/Princess Leia's Theme/Cantina Band/The Last Battle/End Title"
The Empire Strikes Back:"Darth Vader's Theme/Yoda's Theme"
The Empire Strikes Back:"The Battle In The Snow"
The Empire Strikes Back:"The Force Theme"
The Empire Strikes Back:"Finale"
Return Of The Jedi:"Lapti Nek"
Return Of The Jedi:"Ewok Celebration"
The Phantom Menace:"Duel Of The Fates/Augie's Municipal Band"
The Phantom Menace:"Cousin Jar Jar"
The Phantom Menace:"A Jedi Knight"

That was actually my last couple of questions.
"Yes, there's a good place to end too. In the future and what's coming."
So, is there anything else you can come to think of that you wanna tell me about?
"No, in fact you've asked great questions and I appreciate them and I told you some things that I haven't thought about myself in a long time."
Yeah. I'm very happy to have got this opportunity to speak to you.
"This has been fun and I'm thrilled because you're a great writer and you have your way with words and I enjoy your material, I've read a lot of stuff on your site and I'm looking forward to seeing what you have done here too."
OH - Thank you! OK then. Thanks a lot for your time.
"Thank you Claes!"
I'll speak to you later.
"Thank you. Bye bye."
Bye!

MECO - the Complete Star Wars Collection. Signed: Claes (Discoguy) Thank you for your kind words - Meco

So... MECO is back with the new CD, like a 'Star Wars Greatest Hits' - the Complete Star Wars Collection (Dance Your Asteroids Off). And... He has also promised to be back for the Star Wars episodes 2 and 3. We really can look forward to that. Specially the "Star Wars - 5 stars" he told me about during this interview.
He's really one of the few and definitely best instrumentalists in the music business and it's really nice that he's back after some 15 years absence.
I was very happy to get this chance to talk to this legend and the almost two hours we talked felt like just half an hour. We both had such a great time and I'm sure we'll keep the contact long after this.
So - he's back and this time for good. Welcome back...

MECO
The King of Instrumental Dance music.




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Meco Monardo
BIG THANKS
to MECO for participating and making this page possible !!!
And for sending me CD's, Photos and more. THANK YOU !!!

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