Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Peter Tevis: “Passions of Plenty” and “Fistful of Dollars”

Mark’s Vinyl Corner

I'm happy to say, after years of searching I've managed to find a 45 vinyl of Peter Tevis “Pastures Of Plenty” with Ennio Morricone’s original arrangement PM45-3115 serie europa on RCA Victor. I didn't think I'd ever find one. I've never seen it for sale before and began to think it was a myth in my crazy head!

It's the genesis of the 'Spaghetti sound' and a very important cultural document in Italian cinema history. It was released in Italy, and Japan only. I have the Italian version. The B-side is also nice, Notte Infinata with Tevis singing in Italian with a nice choral arrangement by I Cantori Moderni and a vocal chant familiar with them. It almost feels like an outtake from “Fistful of Dollars”. There's been much argument over the choral vocals to a Fistful, but on this 1962 original Tevis sings 'I come with the dust, and I'm gone with the wind, this is then repeated by the choir ' with the wind' . I'm sure the readers a all very familiar with this, but since I was a kid first listening to this music, it sounded slightly intelligible, to me 'we can fight,' We can win'. I now understand how it was changed for the film, when Morricone played this 45 to Sergio Leone, and Alessandro took over, they took out Peters vocal. I find it sad that Peter Tevis is a side-note in all this as I believe his meeting with Morricone in Italy was the touch paper that ignited this genre of film music we all adore. 

Peter Edward Tevis was born in Santa Barbara, California on February 10, 1937. He was an American folk singer who met Ennio Morricone while living in Italy in the 1960s, and suggested working together. A 1962 recording of the song "Pastures of Plenty" by Woody Guthrie became a small hit single. Morricone later reworked it into the title theme of the movie "A Fistful of Dollars" directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood (without Tevis lyrics). Later they continued to collaborate on a number of recordings. Tevis is credited with singing the lyrics of songs on the soundtracks of several Spaghetti Western movies, including:

"A Gringo Like Me" from the film Gunfight at Red Sands
"Lonesome Billy" from the film Guns Don't Argue
"Per un Pugno di Dollari" (A Fistful of Dollars)

Tevis was also credited with singing the theme song of the animated television series Underdog (TV series) in the 1960s.

In the 1970s, Tevis ran a record label called Pet Records, based in Burbank, California. The label released records designed to train pet birds to talk as well as other pet training records. The word pet also stood for "Peter Edward Tevis."

Tevis was married to actress Tiffany Bolling from 1969 to 1970.

In his later years he suffered from Parkinson's Disease and nearly lost his voice. Finally dying from the disease on September 13, 2006 on Mercer Island in Washington.

“Pastures of Plenty” link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAE9tFd6WkQ

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