Friday, August 09, 2013


Peter Lorre's wonderful voice. Sinister. Even blood curdling, huh? It's possible that Cagney, Bogart, Karloff, Lugosi, Nicholson or Schwarzenegger are done more often, but the little spook has a distinction over all of them. Peter Lorre was the first movie star to be parodied on a hit record.

Celebrity impressions go back to the very early days of recorded sound. Scotland's Cissie Loftus put out a bunch of them for Berliner in 1898! People who happened to see a great star on stage, could buy a Cissie single: "Imitation of Phylis Ranken," "Imitation of Yvette Guilbert," "Imitation of Eugene Stratton" etc. etc. But parroting British Music Hall stars or actresses didn't produce Top Ten hits for Loftus. There wasn't a lot of radio play either in those days.

"My Old Flame," the Spike Jones single featuring Paul Frees as Peter Lorre, was a certifiable (and insane) hit. In fact it was so popular, Peter Lorre himself made an appearance on Spike's radio show, and did a dueling-Lorre with Frees on "My Old Flame" to the delight of the live audience.

You might have to fast-forward a generation to Bobby "Boris" Pickett, to name another hit novelty single based on a celebrity impression. And after that? A "Senator Bobby" Kennedy version of "Wild Thing" stunned radio listeners for a while, along with another version of the song using the the deep, oozy-voice of Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois.

Not successful, but pretty darn amusing, is the download below, a third celebrity version of "Wild Thing" via The Ventures. The rest of the album is instrumentals. Founding member Don Wilson is the uncredited voice of Peter Lorre here. Don's not Paul Frees (Paul's Petered version of "Hey Jude" is elsewhere on the blog for you to sample) but he's very good. Don may not have the nuances (Lorre would often throw a "huh" or a little giggle at the end of a sentence to help steal a scene) but his accent is in the right Austria-Hungarian region and he doesn't overdo the nasality or the comical temper tantrum in going from suave evil to sputtery madman. It's wild, thing.

WiLD THING The Peter Lorre Version Instant download or listen on line. No capcha codes. No Paypal donation "tip cup," no links to dangerous websites. Nothing to do with Kim Dotcom or sociopaths like him.

1 comment:

Awesome Somuch said...

I really like how he mimics, He is a great artist and I find him as a good man. Keep it up! increase twitter retweets