Like many people, I had a bad habit of watching infomercials back in the day when I couldn’t sleep. Though there were definitely some highlights – the Magic Bullet commercials with the Australian host, gruff middle-aged man “Berman,” and his delightful castmates (described quite humorously by this site) – a lot of them made me feel like I was just killing time.
I wonder what could have caused me to come up with that idea…
But every now and then, I’d stumble upon a true gem. The gem was never a product, but rather something culturally relevant that made me smile. One such instance was when I was watching a Time Life infomercial about one of their great compilation albums – probably “50 Classic Hits from Musicians Who’d Later Sing for Disney Musicals” or something of the sort – and I first heard the name Peabo Bryson.
Peabo Bryson. Say it again… Peabo Bryson.
Keep in mind, this occurred before this blog existed, and before I’d even dreamed up the Funny Names List that preceded this blog by five years, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about Peabo. What a name. Peabo Bryson.
I went on and forgot everything about ol’ Peabo and his claim to fame, but the scallywag’s name was forever imprinted in my skull. One day, feeling inspired and/or random, I searched for Peabo Bryson on Wikipedia and found out:
- The guy didn’t suck. I’m not a huge fan of sappy, smooth R&B music like If You’re Ever In My Arms Again, but Peabo also scored top 10 hits in consecutive years for Disney movie theme songs, reaching #9 in 1991 with Celine Dion for Beauty and the Beast, and his only #1 hit in 1992 for A Whole New World with Roberta Belle. (Then he paired up with Kenny G and hasn’t had a top 40 hit since)
- He was born Robert Peapo Bryson, and began singing with Al Freeman and the Upsetters at age 14. Al Freeman couldn’t pronounce Peapo, so the youngster had his name legally changed to Peabo Bryson that year. That’s what we call commitment to your craft!
Two years later, at 16, Peabo left home to tour the so-called chitlin’ circuit with one of the few bands suitable for a guy named Peabo Bryson: Moses Dillard and the Textile Display. This is where Peabo scored his big break. A fella named Eddie Biscoe heard the band, and wasn’t too impressed with them, but liked Peabo and decided to sign him to a contract.
Peabo spent the better part of 10 years working as a writer and producer, and then Peabo set off to make a name for himself (or perhaps “make another name for himself,” since he was already Peabo Bryson). He began performing again in 1975 (at age 24). The rest, as they say, is history. In 1977, he released a rip-roarin album entitled Peabo, and with a name like that, of course it was a smashing success. Thirty four years, three top 10 Billboard singles, seven top-40 R&B albums, and an engagement to Sugar Ray Leonard’s ex-wife later, it’s safe to say Peabo has hit the big-time.
Perhaps there’s no greater testament to his success than the fact that he was name dropped by one of today’s brightest talents, Nicki Minaj, in David Guetta’s “Where Them Girls At?”:
Peebe, peebe, who’s Peabo Bryson?
Two years ago I renewed my license
Anyway, why’d I start my verse like that?
“Where them girls at?” – My guess is that, like many people of the female persuasion, they’re with Peabo. That’s where I would be.