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A Short Story


by Roger Jewell

In 1982, I was actively pursuing a career in recording arts and record production. I needed a really “big” recording group; something really different to make the record moguls take notice. So, I sent a letter to music agent Peter Leeds, who represented artists like Deborah Harry and Blondie. The letter stated that I had a hot new recording group consisting entirely of “little people” (often politically incorrectly referred to as midgets). In reality, I didn’t even have one little person but I planned on putting the group together in case Peter asked for a demo video. He did, and this is the story surrounding the new group.

After Peter Leeds asked for a video demo, I had to scramble to create a group fast. I contacted the Little People of America Association (LPAA), which was started by little person and actor Billy Barty. They referred me to some little people who were then filming a failed movie starring Chevy Chase called “Under the Rainbow.” They were drummer Gary Friedkin, keyboardist Sal Fondacarro, and Sal’s brother, singer Phil Fondacaro. I quickly signed them to a record production agreement and we prepared to make a video demo to send to Peter. Some of the song titles were “Think Big” and “B.M.O.C. (Big Man On Campus).”

Phil has gone on to star in some major roles such as performing as an Ewok in “Star Wars” and a leading role in one episode of “Tales from the Crypt.” He has since also appeared in the National Enquirer.

The video was more hilarious than entertaining since none of the musicians were actually playing or singing. I figured if Peter liked what he saw, he would give us time to bring the group to professional standards. Phil was a highly energetic performer and was terrific. I then submitted the video demo to Peter, who never responded back. Obviously, he thought the group was a hoax (think Nilli Vanilli) and the video failed miserably.

This situation has caused me to be a little more cautious about how I promote my ideas. I was only 22 years old at that time and a little misguided. I still think the idea would be fantastic and would be a hit if the little people could really get a group together. However, there are some limitations that complicate trying to put such a group together since a bass guitar is usually too big for a little person to play.

All of the members of the group were pleasant and were really interested in recording as a group. I only wish that I would have had the money to pay their expenses during the rehearsal process. I guess I was just a “little” too optimistic.

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