Producer and studio musician Meco marked a confluence of the two dominant pop-culture preoccupations of the late '70s, shooting to fame on the heels of a chart-topping disco rendition of the theme to [RoviLink="VW"]Star Wars. Born Meco Monardo in Johnsonburg, PA in 1939, he took up the trombone at the age of nine, and later earned a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. There Meco formed a jazz trio with fellow students Chuck Mangione and Ron Carter, later enlisting with the West Point Army Band. From 1965 to 1974, Meco worked as a studio player, and also landed a number of arranging gigs, most notably on Tommy James' "Crystal Blue Persuasion." He additionally arranged and performed the music on a series of television commercials.
Meco's breakthrough arrived in 1974 when he co-produced the Gloria Gaynor smash "Never Can Say Goodbye," followed by the Carol Douglas masterpiece "Doctor's Orders." In 1977, Meco saw the George Lucas film [RoviLink="VW"]Star Wars on the day of its release and quickly became obsessed, seeing the picture numerous times; while admiring producer John Williams' score, he felt the music lacked commercial possibilities, and soon contacted Casablanca Records chief Neil Bogart about the possibility of a disco version. Working with veteran Broadway arranger Harold Wheeler, Meco recorded Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk; soon the first single, "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band," rose to number one. Although he recorded similar music inspired by films including [RoviLink="VW"]The Wizard of Oz and [RoviLink="VW"]Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Meco remained most closely associated with [RoviLink="VW"]Star Wars, even recording a highly successful Christmas album based on the movie; he retired from music in 1985, later working as a commodities broker in Florida. ~ Jason Ankeny
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