Popeye in Pop’s Eye

Very much looking forward to this Saturday’s special event at the AFI in Silver Spring in which Gary Lucas, Sarah Stiles and a stellar supporting cast will provide musical accompaniment to 1930s Max Fleischer cartoon classics, most notably Popeye and Betty Boop – a “spotlight evening” for this year’s Washington Jewish Film Festival.

Max Fleischer & Betty Boopimage courtesy of Washington Jewish Film Festival

As the WJJF website notes:

“Celebrating the release of the titular album–on Silver Spring-based label Cuneiform–legendary guitarist Gary Lucas joins forces with Tony-nominated singer & actress Sarah Stiles (Avenue Q, Hand to God) for a loving musical tribute to the swinging, jazzy soundtracks that adorned master animator Max Fleischer’s surreal, wacky and Yiddish-inflected Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons of the 1930’s.

Backed by the cartoons themselves, and the cream of NYC’s jazz performers (Jeff Lederer on reeds, Rob Jost on bass, Rob Garcia on drums and Mingus Big Band’s Joe Fiedler on trombone), Lucas and Stiles have a rare evening in store.”

Check out Lucas & Stiles on the delightful “Broken Record

Gary Lucas CDThe coolest treatment of Popeye in vintage pop music is undoubtedly this original song by Lamont Anthony – a.k.a., Lamont Dozier of Dozier-Holland-Dozier fame – released on Motown imprint, Anna, in 1960:

“Popeye”     Lamont Anthony (Dozier)     1960

45Cat helped me discover that The Nomads released a 45 on Indiana indie label, Genie, in 1960 – “Santa Fe Rock” b/w “Popeye the Sailor” – that would get picked up the following year for national as well as overseas (i.e., Australia & New Zealand) distribution by ABC-Paramount:

“Popeye the Sailor”      The Nomads     1960

Jack Mercer, voice of Popeye, would release a 78, “Never Pick a Fight with Popeye” b/w “Help Help” (voiced by Mae ‘Olive Oyl’ Questel) — a “Golden Record” that promised “two great NEW songs” for just 29¢ in 1959.

“Never Pick a Fight with Popeye”    Jack Mercer (& the Sea Weed Singers)    1959

Other Musical Tributes to Popeye

Michael Anthony’s bass solo during Van Halen concerts would include “Popeye

Popeye Epiphone Guitar