If there’s one thing that could be said about the 80s, it’s that it had a style all its own. But, of all the image-conscious bands to emerge from the decade, one stands just a bit above the others, with their spacey sci-fi clothing, sculpted hair and copious amounts of makeup: Missing Persons. And, upon further thought, you could hardly miss them at all. With front woman Dale Bozzio in silver spandex and multi-colored/multi-dimensional hair, they were equally memorable for their looks as they were for their immense musical talent. Missing Persons ushered in the new wave era, providing some of the best-loved sounds and most peculiar music videos to an audience hungry for more.
Originally dubbed as U.S. Drag, Warren Cuccurullo and one-time Boston Playboy Club bunny-turned-musician Dale Bozzio started writing together after working on the Frank Zappa album, Joe’s Garage. Dale brought along her drummer husband, Terry Bozzio, also from Zappa’s backing band, as well as Patrick O’Hearn and Chuck Wild. Soon they appeared in the movie Lunch Wagon, and went off to Zappa’s home studio, UMRK to record their debut, a 4-song EP titled Missing Persons. They became known as the premiere L.A. live music act, and their single “Mental Hopscotch” was a hit on the local rock station, KROQ. Tireless self-promotion landed them an impressive 7,000 copies sold. Their hard work was rewarded with a recording contract with Capitol Records.
After a highly successful re-release of their debut, which sold an extra 250,000 copies, the band hit the studios once more and recorded Spring Session M (which, incidentally, is an anagram of the band’s name), which included the hits the band was best known for, “Words,” “Destination Unknown” and their homage to the southern California lifestyle, “Walking in L.A.” The album, a mix of synthesizers, guitars and Dale’s Betty Boop-like vocals, introduced the rest of the country to what southern Californians had come to know and love. The album was a success for the local band, moving them onto heavy MTV rotation and into the Top 20. The band toured the U.S. in support of the album, and made a number of television appearances, several of which were on the show Solid Gold. The band appeared at the three-day U.S. Music Festival in their LA hometown, along with fellow rockers, The Pretenders, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks and David Bowie, U2, Berlin, and many, many others.
Missing Persons returned to the studio, and in 1984 they released Rhyme & Reason. Though the album found a minor hit with the single, “Give,” it was poorly received. In 1986, Missing Persons released the dance-pop flavored Color In Your Life. Produced by Chic’s Bernard Edwards, the album flopped, as did the Bozzios’ marriage. The band dissolved, with its various members going on to find new projects of their own, Dale recording solo under Prince’s Paisley Park label, Cuccurullo joining Duran Duran, Terry working with Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck as a session and touring drummer. More recently, for a few special engagements, the band has reunited – sometimes fully, sometimes partially. None the less, the fans keep coming, showing that more than a few people have missed their beloved Missing Persons.
If you are a fan of this innovative 80s band, we welcome your thoughts on Missing Persons in our comments section.