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Mental Hopscotch – Missing Persons

missing-persons-mental-hopscotchMissing Persons was one of my favorite bands throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Their first record is rock-solid new wave rock ‘n’ roll. And nothing the band wrote ever topped “Mental Hopscotch” from their self-titled EP released in 1982.

A little missing Persons history

Unlike most new wave bands, Missing Persons had serious musical chops. Three of the original members played in Frank Zappa’s band. And you didn’t play with Frank unless you were a serious musical freak.
• Warren Cuccurollo manned guitar
• Terry Bozzio pounded the drums
• Patrick O’Hearn played keyboard bass

At some point, Terry Bozzio opened the pages of a Hustler magazine in the early 1980s and saw a woman named Dale Bozzio who later became his wife, a member of Frank Zappa’s band for the Joe’s Garage album, and ultimately lead singer of Missing Persons.

You can’t make up a band history any more romantic than that.

Missing Persons Albums

missing-persons-epThe four combined to create experimental rock sounds as Missing Persons. They added keyboard player Chuck Wild and released a four-song EP in 1982 titled Missing Persons they sold out of their car. I actually own one of the 5,000 original pressings of the EP. Probably one of the most rare pieces of music in my collection.

missing-persons-spring-session-m1Producer Ken Scott heard the record and saw the band play and in 1983 signed them to Capitol Records where they released Spring Session M. You should own this record. There’s not a bad song on it and most of them are really good. Here’s a list of the “hits” from the record:
• Words (What are words for? When no one listens anymore)
• Destination Unknown (Life is so strange…)
• Walking in LA (Walking in LA/Nobody walks in LA)
• Windows (All I want is a window to look through)
• Noticeable one (I am one of the noticeable ones/notice me/notice me)

It’s seriously great stuff. Had they included “Mental Hopscotch” the album would be a five-star masterpiece. As it is, I listened to it more than any other album when I was in high school.

rhyme-and-reason-missing-personsThe band released three full albums during their career and they clearly peaked on the first record. Their second album titled Rhyme and Reason is solid but not spectacular. Although “The Closer that You Get,” “Give,” “Right Now” and “Surrender Your Heart” are all very good songs.

Their last record titled Color in Your Life is pretty much garbage. Dale and Terry would soon divorce and the band would call it a day. missingpersons-color-in-your-life1

Warren Cuccurollo later joined Duran Duran and was guitarist when the band hit #1 on the Billboard charts with “Ordinary World” in 1993. He also wrote “Come Undone” from the same record.

Missing Persons’ influence

dale-bozzio-vs-lady-gaga4You can’t look at Lady Gaga without seeing Dale Bozzio. And you can’t listen to Gwen Stefani without hearing Dale Bozzio’s influence. For what was perceived as a trashy, disposable style back in the 1980s, Dale Bozzio’s influence is longer lasting than many more famous and successful bands. Who would have guessed that back in 1982?

Regardless, “Mental Hopscotch” is still one of my all-time favorite songs.

Listen to “Mental Hopscotch” by Missing Persons

Buy “Mental Hopscotch”
Missing Persons - The Best of Missing Persons - Mental Hopscotch

Watch an early version of Missing Persons fake “Mental Hopscotch” in a cheesy 80s movie titled “Lunchwagon Girls”

Live footage of Missing Persons at the US Festival in 1983

Written by

I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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6 Responses to "Mental Hopscotch – Missing Persons"

  1. Matt Thurston says:

    Forgot what a fan you were of Missing Persons. It would be tough to describe the effect Dale’s see-through, plastic, coconut-shell-shaped bra had on this 14 year old boy. Between Dale Bozzio and Wendy O. Williams (Plasmatics), I often found myself locked in a kind of mammary-obsessed reverie.

    I was also an early adopter of their first EP. I probably still have the cassette tape somewhere. And I also was a fan of Spring Session M. Fav song is Destination Unknown.

  2. mik says:

    I still love Missing Persons (well, lots of it). Anyone requiring proof that Bozzio could play drums with the best of them should listen to Rock & Roll Suspension on Spring Session M. Awesome. Patrick O’Hearn, for what it’s worth, went on to do some pretty great* instrumental albums.

    *depending on your tolerance for keyboard- and synth-heavy new age nonsense.

  3. kevin says:

    March 15, 2010 @ BB Kings Club in Times Square : Missing Persons / Gene Loves Jezebel

  4. We manage and promote Dale Bozzio and Missing Persons. She will be performing in several venues coming up shortly in LA. We want the impact Dale made on today’s music to get the credit it deserves. We are promoting a venue for Dale and Lady GaGa to perform. Michael, please contact me for an opportunity.

    We are also going to have a limited pressing of 500 copies of a never released CD. This CD is $50 and will have Dale Bozzio’s autograph. This purchase will also enter you in a drawing for back stage tickets to her concert on March 3 in LA.

  5. Michael Waterman says:

    Thanks for the note Cindy. I will contact you to discuss setting up an interview with Dale. As you know, “Destination Unknown” and “Words” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #42. But they’re a great example of a band that is uniquely identified with one or two particular songs. People assume they’re a one-hit wonder. They’re actually closer to a two-hit wonder…but don’t perfectly qualify. I will always love “Mental Hopscotch” the most, however.

  6. Mike Walsh says:

    does anyone know what 80s movie had the song “give” in it? I feel like it was in the credits of something, but can’t recall what.

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