Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
The six members of The Electric Mayhem (top, left to right); Floyd, Lips, Animal, (bottom, left to right) Janice, Dr. Teeth, Zoot.
The six members of The Electric Mayhem (top, left to right); Floyd, Lips, Animal, (bottom, left to right) Janice, Dr. Teeth, Zoot.
Background information
Also known asThe Electric Mayhem
OriginNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States[1]
GenresRock
Years active1975–present
LabelsWalt Disney
MembersDr. Teeth
Animal
Floyd Pepper
Janice
Zoot
Lips
Past membersClifford

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, or simply The Electric Mayhem, are an American Muppet rock group that debuted in 1975 on the pilot for the sketch comedy television series The Muppet Show. They are the house band for The Muppet Show, with personalities and appearances inspired by prominent real-life rock music and jazz performers. They subsequently appeared in various Muppet films and television specials and have also recorded album tracks and covered numerous songs.[2] The Electric Mayhem consists of Dr. Teeth on vocals and keyboards, Animal on drums, Floyd Pepper on vocals and bass, Janice on vocals and lead guitar, Zoot on saxophone, and Lips on trumpet. The band's members were originally performed by Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, and Steve Whitmire, respectively; they are presently performed by Bill Barretta, Eric Jacobson, Matt Vogel, David Rudman, Goelz, and Peter Linz, respectively.[3][4]

The group made their debut in 1975's The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, the pilot for The Muppet Show. Dr. Teeth and Animal were designed by Henson, Zoot was designed by Bonnie Erickson, while the rest of the original band members were designed by Michael K. Frith. Animal, Floyd and Zoot also played in the Muppet Show pit band, performing the opening and closing themes and underscoring most of the Muppet Show performances. Lips and occasionally Janice appeared in the orchestra in later episodes. Lips joined the band as the sixth member in the fifth season of the series, and made some appearances with the group after The Muppet Show ended production; the group later reverted to its original five member line-up, until Lips returned in 2011's The Muppets.

The band's first film role was performing the song "Can You Picture That?" in The Muppet Movie. They also performed "Night Life" and participated in "The Happiness Hotel" in The Great Muppet Caper and performed "Jingle Bell Rock" in A Muppet Family Christmas. They appeared in The Muppets Take Manhattan (sans Lips) where Dr. Teeth sang "You Can't Take No For An Answer". Following the deaths of two of the group's puppeteers, Henson and Hunt, they were limited to brief instrumental background music throughout the 1990s. However, the Electric Mayhem backed Miss Piggy for a song in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz and performed alongside Miley Cyrus in the 2008 Studio DC: Almost Live television special. They have been a mainstay in the Muppets' viral video efforts of the 2010s and have a featured role in 2015's The Muppets as the house band on the show-within-a-show Up Late with Miss Piggy. The same year, they released two music videos for "Jungle Boogie" (featuring Sam Eagle) and "Kodachrome".

An Electric Mayhem "live" tour with audio-animatronic versions of the puppets and rock band My Morning Jacket performing the characters was proposed by The Walt Disney Company but ultimately abandoned.[5] The band performed a live five-song set at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival on August 6, 2016.[6][7]

The Muppets Mayhem, a series about the Electric Mayhem recording their first eponymous studio album, premiered on Disney+ on May 10, 2023.[8][9]

Members

Character Principal performers
Dr. Teeth Jim Henson (1975–1990)
John Kennedy (1991–2003)
Bill Barretta (2005–present)
Animal Frank Oz (1975–2000)
Eric Jacobson (2002–present)
Floyd Pepper Jerry Nelson (1975–2003; 2008)
John Kennedy (2005–2006)
Matt Vogel (2008–present)
Janice Fran Brill (1975)
Eren Ozker (1976-1977)
Richard Hunt (1975; 1977–1992)
Brian Henson (2002–2003)
Tyler Bunch (2005–2008)
David Rudman (2008–present)
Zoot Dave Goelz (1975–present)
Lips Steve Whitmire (1980–2016)
Peter Linz (2017–present)

Despite featuring Dr. Teeth's name prominently in the band's name, the group officially has no frontman and instead has described itself as a "rocktocracy".[1] The original pilot episode of The Muppet Show also featured Jim, a Muppet caricature of Henson on banjo.

Dr. Teeth

Dr. Gerald Teeth Jr. is the gravelly-voiced lead singer and keyboardist. He is green-skinned and red-haired with a large grinning mouth of teeth including a gold tooth supposedly fashioned by melting down his gold records.[10] He sports a scruffy red beard with no mustache, a fur vest, a striped shirt and a floppy purple top hat. He has arms so long that additional puppeteers are required to guide them; this design enabled Henson to work the Dr. Teeth puppet while another performer acted as Dr. Teeth's hands in order to play the keyboard. His self-introduction in The Muppet Movie was typically grandiose: "Golden teeth and golden tones. Welcome to my presence." He often misuses long words and mangles verb conjugation. Jim Henson originally performed him, basing the character on New Orleans musician Dr. John. He was designed by Henson and Michael K. Frith and built by Don Sahlin. He debuted in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence. [11]

Dr. Teeth only sings lead vocals on the second Muppet pilot and during the first season and these songs were only written before Rowlf the Dog had become firmly established as the regular Muppet pianist. Later performances mostly feature lead vocals by Floyd or Janice and only a few featured Dr. Teeth. His speaking roles got even smaller after his performer Jim Henson's death; an exception was the 1991 Muppets stage show Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses, the voice being performed by John Kennedy. He performed Dr. Teeth from 1991 to 2003 but made only very brief appearances with very little dialogue, some examples being the 1999 film Muppets from Space and once in the music video for the "We Are Family" charity song in 2002. Bill Barretta took over the role beginning with The Muppets' Wizard of Oz so that Kennedy could start performing Floyd instead following the retirement of Jerry Nelson, Floyd's original performer (although Matt Vogel later assumed the role of Floyd as well as most of Nelson's primary Muppet characters). Dr. Teeth's first major speaking role since Henson's death was in Statler and Waldorf's very own show, Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony where Victor Yerrid performed him. Bill Barretta, however, has been performing Dr. Teeth consistently since 2005.

Although being the band leader, Dr. Teeth is never featured in the regular orchestra playing at The Muppet Show like the rest of the group. Instead, Rowlf plays the piano in the orchestra pit.

Jim Henson once said that Dr. Teeth was one of the most difficult characters to play due to the harshness of the character's voice. Although he appeared in Muppet Treasure Island, he was absent from Muppets Tonight and did not appear in the first episode.

In the 2023 series The Muppets Mayhem, Dr. Teeth is revealed to be an actual doctor, having worked in his family's dentistry business before leaving with Floyd to start the band. After an argument with the band, he rechristens the band's name simply as "The Electric Mayhem" out of parity for the other members.

Animal

Main article: Animal (Muppet)

Animal is the primitive wildman, drummer and the most published member of the band being the only member to appear in every feature film and the only member in the regular cast of the Muppet Babies spin-off cartoon. He is named for his wild behavior and drumming. Some speculate the character is based on either Keith Moon, John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Mike Baird or Levon Helm,[12][13][14] while others have suggested Mick Fleetwood.[15] Original performer Frank Oz has stated that Animal's character can be summed up in five words: sex, sleep, food, drums, and pain.[16] Several years ago, the famed Ludwig Drum Company built a specially modified version of their child-sized Ludwig Jr. kit for Animal, as noted on their website at the time. In the April 8, 2002, episode of Inside the Actors Studio, Billy Joel claimed that Liberty DeVitto was the inspiration for the Muppets character Animal. This assertion has not been taken seriously as Animal's initial appearance in the 1974 pilot for The Muppet Show occurred two full years before DeVitto even made his first recording (on Joel's 1976 album Turnstiles). Others say there is no evidence that Animal was based on anyone specifically, and is simply an amalgam of common stereotypes about rock drummers.[17]

Oz performed Animal from his first appearance until 2000; he has been performed regularly by Eric Jacobson since his 2002 appearance in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.[18] In Muppet Babies, he was voiced by Howie Mandel (1984–1985) and by Dave Coulier (1986–1991). Animal was also played by Kevin Clash in Muppets Tonight and by Bill Barretta in MuppetFest (the first Muppet fan convention). Animal's drumming was performed by British jazz and big band drummer Ronnie Verrell.[17] He has had numerous appearances on television in advertising and on a U.S. postage stamp.

The 2023 series The Muppets Mayhem, it is revealed that Animal was raised by Floyd after being abandoned on his doorstep as a baby.

Floyd Pepper

Sgt. Floyd Pepper is the bassist and backup singer. A laid back hippie with a pink body and long orange hair, he usually wore a green army cap or sometimes while in the pit, a slightly fancier cap of stiffer, glittery material and a red uniform with epaulets and ornate gold braid on the buttons. He plays his bass left-handed; and although he's been seen playing a variety of bass guitars over time, he appears to have settled for playing Fender basses. The character was originated by Jerry Nelson until 2003. At this time, Nelson retired from performing most of his characters, citing health reasons and John Kennedy took over the role beginning with The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. Matt Vogel took over in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa and is Floyd's current performer. Author Christopher Finch says that Floyd is most like Nelson and if there were a spin-off of The Muppet Show centering on his band, Floyd would probably emerge as the central figure. He was designed by Michael K. Frith and built by Dave Goelz. He debuted in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence.[19]

A battle of the egos occurs whenever he and Miss Piggy are on screen together as he loves to poke fun at her airs and graces. He's also somewhat arrogant, referring to himself in a Muppet Magazine article as one real cool dude and during The Muppet Show (season 1 episode 23) he says to Kermit the Frog: "Kermit, you are talking to Floyd Pepper! The hippest of the hip! I mean I have a room for life at the home of the chronically groovy!". His name and pink color are homages to the band Pink Floyd, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the album by the Beatles. He appears backstage more often than the other band members.

Although Dr. Teeth is the leader, Floyd is the one who sings lead most often. Some of the songs he sang on The Muppet Show include: "New York State of Mind", "Ain't Misbehavin'", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". He has a close relationship with Janice and is Animal's close friend and handler. In books like The Case of The Missing Mother, by James Howe, Animal is practically Floyd's pet. In The Muppets Mayhem, it is revealed that Floyd raised Animal from a young age, and inspired a young Dr. Teeth to become a musician.

Floyd has declared himself to be an excellent songwriter—when the band briefly went on strike, one of his conditions was that he be allowed to write new theme music for the show—but with no apparent contradiction, admits that everyone hates his music. "If I didn't know I was a genius," he once declared, "I wouldn't listen to the trash I write." He nonetheless seems to have made a small fortune on advertising jingles during one of the band's sabbatical.

It is believed he is based on the guitarist Jeff Baxter who is a studio musician and a former member of both Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers. [20]

Janice

Janice is a guitarist and backup singer with a flower child personality. She has blonde hair, big eyelashes and lips, and usually wears a brown hat with a turquoise gem and a feather. Though she regularly performed vocals, she actually only sang lead a couple of times on the show. She also acted in sketches periodically, most notably as wisecracking Nurse Janice in 'Veterinarian's Hospital', a recurring parody of medical dramas; in the latter role, she dispenses with much of her flower child lingo. Her name is an homage to Janis Joplin, and she bears a resemblance to Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary. Janice is the band's lead guitarist and backup singer and she plays left-handed. Her favourite guitar is a Gibson Les Paul with cherry sunburst colour scheme.[citation needed]

Janice was involved with Zoot in the first season of The Muppet Show but paired up with Floyd Pepper at the start of season two. Janice was performed by Eren Ozker during the first season of The Muppet Show (without the valley-girl voice), then she was performed by Richard Hunt until his death in 1992. Briefly, in The Muppet Show pilot, in the Muppet Meeting Films and in one Season 1 sketch she was performed by Fran Brill. Due to the lack of female Muppet performers, Janice has, since Ozker's departure, consistently been played by a man.[citation needed]

Muppet characters are frequently paired together based on how well puppeteers perform as a team. Richard Hunt and Jerry Nelson had established themselves as a team prior to The Muppet Show. Therefore, the change in Janice's performer may have been the reason for her relationship shifting from Zoot to Floyd. After Hunt's death, her character was faded back to brief non-speaking background appearances until 2000's Muppet Race Mania in which she was performed by Matt Vogel. Brian Henson also provided her voice for It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and the video game Muppets Party Cruise. In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, she was performed by Tyler Bunch. Her most recent performer is David Rudman, who first performed her in Studio DC: Almost Live. John Lovelady performed her for one appearance in 1975.[citation needed]

A running gag in some Muppet movies was that during a scene in which several characters were excitedly talking at once and someone called for silence, Janice would be the last one still talking on a topic with no apparent connection to the situation. In The Muppets Take Manhattan: "So I told him 'Look, buddy, I don't take my clothes off for anybody, even if it is artistic,' and... Oh". Another example from The Great Muppet Caper, she says: "Look, Mother. It's my life. OK. So if I want to live on a beach and walk around naked... Oh".[citation needed]

Janice is the only member of the band apart from Animal to have appeared on the animated series Muppet Babies. In her single appearance, she was portrayed as slightly older than the main characters and able to read. She was voiced by Dave Coulier who regularly voiced baby versions of Animal, Bunsen Honeydew and Bean Bunny.[citation needed]

In the 2023 series The Muppets Mayhem, Janice is revealed to have an estranged twin sister.[citation needed]

Zoot

Zoot is a teal-colored, balding saxophone player with dark glasses and a high-crowned blue felt hat that is generally a laid-back fellow of few words. His name refers to the 20th-century saxophonist Zoot Sims and per designer Bonnie Erickson is modeled after Latin jazz artist Gato Barbieri. He is performed by Dave Goelz. He was conceived as a burned-out, depressed 50-year-old musician but according to Goelz when the role was assigned to him, he did not know how to perform that type of character. He, therefore, made the character mainly communicate through his playing rather than by speaking.

Zoot spoke much more in the first season where he was often seen dancing with Janice in the "At the Dance" sketches. Goelz stated that he tried to give most of Zoot's lines away to other characters, particularly Floyd. Floyd's performer Jerry Nelson was not performing full-time in the first season which may explain Zoot originally having more dialogue. Since his eyes are hidden by his shades, he often appears oblivious to events around him—during the band's first meeting with Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear as depicted in The Muppet Movie, he briefly forgot his own name which Floyd described as Zoot "skip[ping] the groove again"—but he can be sharper than he seems. When Floyd declared the band to be "anklin'" during its brief strike, only Zoot seemed dubious, noting "The frog's been good to us."

Zoot's claim to fame was playing the final off-key note to the end theme of the show; he then looks into his saxophone with a bewildered expression, checks his music, gives a satisfied nod, looks around at the other musicians and gives the same nod. The note played is the lowest note on the baritone saxophone, while most of Zoot's other playing has the sound of a tenor saxophone and his instrument appears to be an alto saxophone.

In A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, it's revealed that he celebrates Hanukkah.

Lips

Lips is the band's mumbling, yellow-haired trumpet player who joined the Electric Mayhem during the final season of The Muppet Show. His name is inspired by the imagery of lips seen on posters for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, one of Whitmire's favorite films. He has yellow frizzy hair that has been compared to a chrysanthemum (much to his chagrin), a goatee, and a permanent squint. His appearances on the Muppet Show were few and far between and when he did appear in the later episodes or movies, he rarely did anything besides play the trumpet. One of his few speaking appearances was in the Shirley Bassey episode where he sang a line of "Barnyard Boogie."

He was mainly created so that Whitmire could have a character to perform in the band. His lack of character development was apparently due to Whitmire's uncertainty about performing Lips. He was less experienced as a puppeteer at the time and wanted to use a voice like Louis Armstrong but was afraid of offending African Americans. After The Muppet Christmas Carol, he was not seen at all until the 2009 NBC special Christmas in Rockefeller Center. He also appeared in The Muppets (2011). He also appeared and spoke (albeit very briefly) in the 2014 movie Muppets Most Wanted. He appears (and speaks on several occasions) in the 2015 series The Muppets having been completely rebuilt, as the original puppet from his Muppet Show days disintegrated on set during the filming of the 2015 music video "Kodachrome".[21] Lips speaks frequently in The Muppets Mayhem (2023), with his dialogue mainly consisting of unintelligible mumbling and occasionally a determinable sentence.

A recurring gag in The Muppets Mayhem and media released around the same time is that Lips has inexplicable connections to a myriad of celebrities and other people the Mayhem come across. This colourful history includes, but is not limited to, being a nursery school teacher, inspiring The Bangles song "Walk Like an Egyptian", and introducing Paula Abdul to MC Skat Kat.

Past members

Clifford

Clifford, performed by Kevin Clash, was briefly made a member of the Electric Mayhem (as a percussionist) in 1990. His only appearances with the group were in the television special The Muppets at Walt Disney World and minor publicity material.

Jim

Jim was featured in the original pilot episode as a Muppet caricature of Jim Henson on banjo.

Discography

Albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales Certifications
US CAN US Soundtracks US Kid Albums UK AUS US Digital
The Electric Mayhem
(The Muppets Mayhem: Music From the Disney+ Original Series)
10 1 37
  • 5,000

Songs

Year Title Featured Artist(s) Album
1979 "Can You Picture That?" The Muppet Movie
"Sweet Tooth Jam" non-album song
"Little Saint Nick" John Denver John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together
1981 "Night Life" The Great Muppet Caper
1984 "Saying Goodbye" Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Scooter, Gonzo, Camilla, Floyd Pepper, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf the Dog and the Muppets The Muppets Take Manhattan
"You Can't Take No For Answer"
1987 "Jingle Bell Rock" A Muppet Family Christmas
1990 "Rockin' All Around the World" Clifford The Muppets at Walt Disney World
1992 "Fozziwig's Party" The Muppet Christmas Carol
2001 "Far Away From You" non-album song
2005 "Tenderly" The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
"Nap Time"
"The Witch Is in the House" Miss Piggy
2006 "The Man with the Bag" The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas
"Run, Run Rudolph"
"'Zat You, Santa Claus?"
2009 "Bohemian Rhapsody" The Muppets Single
2011 "Pictures in My Head" The Muppets
2015 "Jungle Boogie" Sam Eagle non-album songs
"Kodachrome"
2016 "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" Jack White
2016 "Home" Outside Lands 2016
2016 "Home" The Hollywood Bowl
2021 "Dancing in the Moonlight" Muppets Haunted Mansion
2021 "Mr. Blue Sky" non-album song
2023 "Rock On" The Muppets Mayhem
2023 "Can You Picture That?"

In popular culture

References

  1. ^ a b Maureen Lee, Lenker (May 18, 2023). "Watch Daisy Jones stars Sam Claflin and Riley Keough interview Dr. Teeth and Janice of The Muppets Mayhem". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  2. ^ Suskind, Alex (March 24, 2014). "The Greatest Hits of the Muppets' Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem". New York. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  3. ^ Zellner, Xander (May 24, 2023). "Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem Hit No. 1 on a Billboard Chart for the First Time". Billboard. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  4. ^ Cordero, Rosy (June 9, 2022). "'The Muppets Mayhem': Saara Chaudry & Anders Holm Join Disney+ Series". Deadline.com. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  5. ^ Montgomery, James "My Morning Jacket 'Sad' Over Electric Mayhem Tour" MTV website – June 20, 2011
  6. ^ Wright, Tolly (August 7, 2016). "Watch Muppets' Band Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem's Debut Live Performance". New York. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Kreps, Daniel (August 8, 2016). "Watch Muppets Band Dr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem Make Live Debut". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 7, 2022). "'The Muppets Mayhem' Comedy Series Ordered By Disney+; Lilly Singh Stars, Adam F. Goldberg EPs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  9. ^ Del Rosario, Alexandra (April 5, 2022). "'The Muppets Mayhem': Tahj Mowry Joins Lilly Singh For Disney+ Comedy Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  10. ^ "3/18/1975 - 'In LA Carson Show – Dr. Teeth - talk with Dave Lazer'". 18 March 2013.
  11. ^ Finch, Christopher (October 12, 1993). Jim Henson: The Works : the Art, the Magic, the Imagination (Print). New York, New York: Random House. p. 102. ISBN 9780679412038.
  12. ^ "Front page". Keithmoon.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2014-05-16. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  13. ^ "Myers 'to play' Who's Keith Moon". BBC News. September 30, 2005.
  14. ^ (cite web|url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WR2IKHvfYM
  15. ^ "Fleetwood Mac Artistfacts Archived 2011-05-22 at the Wayback Machine", Artisfacts.com.
  16. ^ Larena (September 25, 2009). "In Honor of Jim Henson's Birthday, Five Mindblowing Muppet Revelations (Wayback Machine archive)". CNN. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Animal – Ronnie Verell". Drummerworld. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  18. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (March 11, 2014). "How Kermit and the Muppets Got Their Mojo Back". Variety. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  19. ^ Finch (1981), pp. 81–83
  20. ^ "Is Jeff "Skunk" Baxter a Muppet? He's Certainly a Brainiac". YouTube.
  21. ^ "Muppeteers at Dragon Con 2015 (or, How I Cried In Front of Oscar the Grouch) « Muppet Fans Who Grew Up – Tough Pigs". toughpigs.com. 8 September 2015.