Cutout Bin: Insane Clown Posse Predecessors Hello People

Hello People
, The Handsome Devils (1974)

Bricks (1975)

Looking over the pics of last Wednesday's Insane Clown Posse show got Cutout Bin thinking about bands who wear clown-ish makeup. Of course there was KISS, and the whole death metal thing, but how many readers remember The Hello People?

Hmmm... no one.

The Hello People were the invention of producer Lou Futterman (who later went on to produce a different kind of clown, Ted Nugent). Lou had seen some French mime movies and thought, "Hey, mimes would make a great band!" He found some musicians, sent them to mime school, and the Hello People were born. Their first album in 1967 played up to the flower-power style of the time (with songs like "Movin' and Growin'" and "Paisley Teddy Bear") but contained some pretty rockin' garage jams as well.

There's not much Internet info available on the Hello People. Although their songs had words, onstage they played with a stoned psychedelic-mime moves, and did wordless skits between songs. The only video clip Cutout Bin could find, from a local dance show called Teen Time, is not of very good quality but gives a good look at their unusual act. Unfortunately there are no camera shots of the teens trying to do the new dance called "The Mime."

The Hello People went on to record eight or so albums over the next 10 years, and their unique look got them booked on many TV shows, including Johnny Carson and The Smothers Brothers. In the 1970's, they hooked up with Todd Rundgren and played as his touring band for a while.

Unfortunately, they never really had much of a hit. Like a man walking against an unseen wind, they just couldn't get ahead. Their album Bricks from 1975 is memorable only for the cover. Hello People albums became record-store cutout bin regulars, and their big TV show appearances now sit in some Hollywood film vault somewhere, as if trapped inside an invisible box.

The Hello People did not have legions of fans wearing their T-shirts, or awkward teens copying their look. They did not have Vegas showgirls in cages, nor did they dump bargain soft drinks on their audience. Yet we think the Hello People deserve more. Let us help them smash through the invisible glass wall of obscurity and move on to, maybe, a reunion appearance on Jay Leno or something.

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Nick DiFonzo