Ernie Kovacs Presents Percy Dovetonsils... thpeaks
Release date: June 19, 2012
The lost 1960 Percy Dovetonsils studio album—unissued until NOW!
Percy Dovetonsils was born in 1951 or 1952 at the WPTZ studios in Philadelphia. It was there that Ernie Kovacs was doing a three-hour wake-up TV show called Three To Get Ready. He was an on-camera disc jockey 30 years before MTV launched with its own brand of VJs—playing records, talking, acting out skits and characters, holding contests—anything to kill time (Kovacs had already been a radio DJ for several years in his hometown of Trenton, NJ). Three To Get Ready had hardly any budget for props and costumes, so Andy McKay, Ernie’s assistant, would forage in five-and-dime stores looking for any cheap prop that might become a gag or a piece of a costume for a character.
One day McKay arrived with a pair of gag eyeglasses with fake eyeballs glued on; but the conception-to-birth stages of Percy that followed are gone in the mauve (or is it cerise) clouds of the cigar smoke of time. Kovacs may very well have had an instant reaction to seeing himself wearing the glasses in a mirror or on camera—and that Percy persona may have just come out of him. Surviving pairs of the original Percy glasses show that the eyelids at half-mast appear to be drawn on with a china marker—another Kovacs touch, no doubt.
Percy Dovetonsils was popular with viewers and became one of Ernie’s signature characters/bits. Along with the Nairobi Trio, born the following year during the run of Kovacs Unlimited on CBS, the Percy character is probably what Ernie is most identified with by members of the general public. Percy was a staple of Kovacs’ shows over the years, and Kovacs appeared as Percy on late-1950s guest shots and in clues on Kovacs’ ersatz panel show Take A Good Look (1959–1961).
Ernie left behind files of information for thpeaks, as well as an artist’s mock-up of the album cover. The tape found in the EdiAd archive gave Omnivore a clue as to what Ernie wanted for the final product. On the tape you hear Kovacs say at the end of the recording session, “Now, with 88 bars of music between each line, it’ll come out even!” Taking this statement with a grain of salt, Ben Model has composed and recorded some piano underscore, and Percy Dovetonsils finally gets to “thpeak.”
Intro Ode To Stanley’s Pussycat Ode To Mona Lisa Lament From A Germ’s Eye Viewpoint Ode To The Happier Days Of The Roman Coliseum Ode To Whistler’s Mother Thoughts While Falling Off The Empire State Building Side One Closing Some Pertinent Thoughts Of Julius Caesar While He Was Being Assasinated Ode To Sam, The Taller Of The Two Monkeys Ode To A House Fly Ode To An Emotional Italian Knight Happy Birthday To A Book Worm The Night Before Christmas On New York’s Fashionable East Side Cowboy Side Two Closing
Bonus Tracks from Kovacs Unlimited:
“Roughing It” Interview A Day At The Races Ode To A Worm’s Eye View Ode To A Hangman’s Noose At Home With Lorelei Latour Poem For Edith Adams