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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Meco (born Domenico Monardo, 29 November 1939 in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.) is a record producer and musician. He is perhaps best known for his 1977 disco version of the Star Wars theme from his album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk; both the single and album were certified platinum in the U.S. This song is popularly misattributed to "Weird Al" Yankovic on various file sharing networks.

Other disco hits include "Themes from The Wizard of Oz: Over the Rainbow/We're Off to See the Wizard" (1978), "Star Trek Medley" (1979) and "Love Theme from Superman" (1979).

Meco Monardo

Meco Monardo was born in 1939 in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania. His father played the trombone and taught young Meco how to play. He was proficient enough to join the high school band while he was still in sixth grade. In high school he formed his own Dixieland band, and after graduating in 1957, won a scholarship to the Eastman School Of Music in Rochester, New York. He attended West Point, where he played in the Cadet Band, and learned about arranging from an Army sergeant. Returning to civilian life, Meco while living in New York City, was introduced to Kai Winding by a friend and former classmate, Chuck Mangione.

Despite a strong dislike for "pop" music, "I was doing all these dumb ditty bop records that never came out" claims Meco. Still Meco worked from 1965 to 1974 as a studio player, and also landed a number of arranging gigs, most notably on Tommy James' "Crystal Blue Persuasion." He also earned a nice living arranging commercials, like a Coca Cola spot for Neil Diamond.

Meco's breakthrough arrived in 1974 when he co-produced the Gloria Gaynor smash "Never Can Say Goodbye," followed by the Carol Douglas masterpiece "Doctor's Orders." Having aligned himself with Broadway arranger Harold Wheeler and producer Tony Bongiovi, Meco was now on his way to producing several early disco hits.

On May 25, 1977, Meco joined the people at a New York City theatre who were lined up to see the opening day screening of a new film starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. Like millions of other fans seeing George Lucas' "Star Wars" for the first time, Meco thought the film was a tour de force. He loved the music-although he didn't think the main title theme, as performed by John Williams and The London Symphony Orchestra, was commercial enough to be a Top 40 single.

Also like millions of others, Meco went back to see the film-11 times in all! By his last visit, he had conceived of a 15-minute disco treatment of several themes in the movie, including the music played by the Cantina Band in the bar on Tatooine. He also planned to include R2-D2 sound effects. He called Jimmy Ienner at Millennium Records and Neil Bogart at Casablanca Records and explained his idea. Based on the tremendous success of "Star Wars," Bogart and Ienner agreed to Meco's idea without hearing any of the music.

Meco hired (unheard of for a pop production) 75 musicians to play on the track, and played trombone and keyboard himself.The complete composition was released as part of an album, "Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk," and on a 12" single. The original main title theme by The London Symphony Orchestra was released by 20th Century Records and entered the Hot 100 on July 9, 1977, less than two months after the film opened. Monardo was wrong about it's commerciality; it raced up to number 10 on the charts. But Meco's version, "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band," which debuted on the chart on August 6, 1977, raced past it to go to number one the week of October 1, 1977 where it stayed for two weeks.

In the winter of 1977, the same team (Monardo-Bongiovi-Wheeler) that produced "Star Wars," released "Encounters Of Every Kind." It is conceived as a musical time trip from 1 million years ago up to 1979. It is a non-stop medley of nine separate songs, each representing a moment in history, with the last song being a disco version of John Williams' "Theme From Close Encounters." There was a promotional-only 12" single release of "The Theme From 'Close Encounters'."

By 1978 Meco and his partners (Bongiovi-Wheeler) were in full swing. Their release of "The Wizard Of Oz" was a musical masterpiece. Once again in medley form, the album borrowed the complete Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg score and dressed it with Meco's plethora of sound effects. 2 promotional-only 12" singles were released."The Wizard Of Oz (Medley)" on gold vinyl and "The Wizard Of Oz (Edit)" on black vinyl. The LP was also on either colored vinyl.
With the release of the blockbuster movie "Superman" the Meco team was once again provided with material. For their 1979 release "Superman And Other Galactic Heroes" one 12" single was released, "The Themes From Superman." The album featured liner notes by John Williams and the voices of Diva Gray, Ellen Bernfield and Lani Groves.

With disco music in high gear and without a current movie to provide material Meco switched gears and recorded an all disco album for his next release. 1979's "Moondancer" was well received and brilliantly produced. There were 2-12" singles released from this album. The title track, "Moondancer" first and then "Devil Delight" both in D.J. friendly remixed form.
1980's "Meco Plays Music From The Empire Strikes Back" was different in several ways. First Harold Wheeler was replaced by Lance Quinn, who was a guitarist on the previous Meco releases, giving the arrangements a totally different sound. Secondly the sound was rock-oriented instead of disco sounding. Thirdly it was released on RSO Records instead of Millennium/Casablanca Records and last, but not the least, it was endorsed by George Lucas. Lucasfilm also provided the very real sound effects. The success of the album please George Lucas to the point that he participated, once again, in Meco's next release. Meco was inspired to create "Christmas In The Stars (The Star Wars Christmas Album)." Once again on RSO Records, this time Harold Wheeler was back with his arrangements. Lucas' contributions were the use of special effects, but also the "voice" of R2-D2 and the presence of Anthony Daniels, leading vocals as C-3PO. The album cover is by Ralph McQuarrie, the designer who made most of the artwork for the "Star Wars" trilogy, and the surprise vocals are by John Bongiovi, who had not yet achieved fame as Jon Bon Jovi

Definetly Meco's most prolific year was 1980. In additon to the above releases he also released a 7" single-only of "Love Theme From Shogun (Mariko)" and "The Main Theme of Shogun" on RSO Records. Then it was back to Casablanca Records for the album "Music From Star Trek and Music From The Black Hole." As a change, this LP featured music not from one movie but from two: the first "Star Trek" episode for the big screeen and "The Black Hole," an unsuccessful sci-fi production by Disney. The album produced a 12" single remix of "The Theme From The Black Hole". And the year finished out with the Casablanca release "Across The Galaxy," a best-of compilation featuring excerpts from his previous masterpieces.

Meco had a great opportunity in 1981 to develop new ideas when Polygram Pictures asked Meco to produce an album based on the original soundtrack of John Landis' "An American Werewolf in London." Meco Monardo and Lance Quinn produced the album for Casablanca Records. The music arrangements were by William Motzing, Meco and Lance.

Another 7" single-only release was Meco's "The Raider's March" and "Cairo Nights" obviously inspired by the release of "The Raiders Of the Lost Ark." This was produced by Meco Monardo and Lance Quinn with the music arrangements by Williams Motzing. The last release for 1981 was the 12" single of "Summer of '81" by The Cantina Band. Cashing in on the popular "Stars On 45" craze this was a medley of Beach Boy classics produced by Meco Monardo, Lance Quinn and Billy Civitella.

1982 saw Meco continue on the popular medley bandwagon with the release of "Pop Goes The Movies" featuring 28 classic movie songs and themes. A commercial 12" single was released as an edited medley. Meco Monardo, Tony Bongiovi and Lance Quinn produced this for Arista Records. This same year, Meco Monardo, Dan Levine, Lance Quinn and Tony Bongiovi produced for Arista Records another album. "Swingtime's Greatest Hits" was his hommage to the music of the 1930's and 1940's that he loved so well. Again Arista released a 12" single in medley form. This was also the year Meco co-produced the first solo album for Kenny G.

1983's "Ewok Celebration" was to be Meco's last movie-based album. The album features other film and television themes as well as sax and lyricon solos by Kenny G. The "Ewok Celebration Theme" is nicely arranged and includes a great rap by C-3PO (performed by Duke Bootee). There is a 12" single release of the title cut with dub and club versions.

By 1985 Meco was reduced to releasing "Hooked On Instrumentals" for the K-Tel label as part of their "Hooked-On" series. As Meco says "When disco was new, it was fresh and exciting because it was different. But pretty soon it became too cookie-cutter and wore itself out". Meco left the music business temporarily in 1985 and after three years "doing nothing but playing golf" started to work as a commodities broker in Florida.

More recently he had conversations to prepare the movie soundtrack for a big-screen version of the TV series "Hawaii 5-0." He has also co-produced a record in 1999 for Yamira where Lance Quinn and Harold Wheeler also participated as arrangers. The return of the "Star Wars" saga to the big screen and the great support provided by the MECO fans from around the world convinced Meco to return in 2000 with "The Complete Star Wars Collection." The CD features new remixes of all the music performed by Meco inspired on the original "Star Wars" trilogy as well as three bonus tracks inspired by "The Phantom Menace." The remixes keep the flavor of the original recordings adding a few enhancements, like new openings/endings, sound effects and voiceovers. With his hands firmly back in the music business Meco has promised "to be there" for the next Star Wars films.


Encounters Of Every Kind (LP) Millennium 1977
Encounters Of Every Kind (LP) RCA Victor 1977
Music Inspired By 'Star Wars' And Other Galactic Funk (LP) RCA 1977
Music Inspired By 'Star Wars' And Other Galactic Funk (LP) Millennium, Melodi Plak 1977
Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk (LP) Millennium 1977
Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band (7") RCA Victor 1977
Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band (7") Millennium 1977
Star Wars Title Theme (7") RCA Limited Australia and New Zealand 1977
Theme From Close Encounters (12") Millennium 1977
Theme From Close Encounters (7") RCA Victor 1977
The Wizard Of Oz (LP) Millennium 1978
The Wizard Of Oz (LP) RCA Victor 1978
Topsy (7") RCA Victor 1978
Devil Delight (12", Promo) Casablanca Records 1979
Moondancer (LP, Promo) Casablanca Records 1979
Moondancer (12", Promo) Casablanca Records 1979
Moondancer (LP) Quality Records / Quality Music & Video 1979
Superman And Other Galactic Heroes (LP) Casablanca Records 1979
Themes From Superman (12", Promo) Casablanca Records 1979
Christmas In The Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album (LP) RSO Records, Inc. 1980
Empire Strikes Back (Medley) (7") RSO Records, Inc. 1980
Music From Star Trek And The Black Hole (LP) Casablanca Records 1980
Plays Music From 'The Empire Strikes Back' (10") RSO Records, Inc. 1980
What Can You Get A Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb?) (7") RSO Records, Inc. 1980
Impressions Of An American Werewolf In London (LP) Phonogram GmbH 1981
Pop Goes The Movies (LP) Festival Records Retail Marketing Ltd. 1982
Pop Goes The Movies (Part I) / Pop Goes The Movies (Part II) (7") Arista 1982
Ewok Celebration (12") Festival Records 1983
Ewok Celebration (7") Arista 1983
Ewok Celebration (LP) Arista 1983
Ewok Celebration (12", Promo) Arista 1983
Ewok Celebration (12") Ariola Eurodisc S.A. 1983
Ewok Celebration / Lapti Nek (7") Arista 1983
Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band / Theme From Close Encounters (CD, Maxi) Unidisc 1992
Christmas In The Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album (CD) Rhino Entertainment Company 1996
The Best Of Meco (CD) Mercury (US) 1997
Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk (CD) Hip-O Records 1999
Dance Your Asteroids Off: The Complete Star Wars Collection (CD) Mecoman Music 2000

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