Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Amanda Lear – "Wild Thing" (1986)

Wild thing
You make my heart sing
You make everything . . . groovy

You’ve probably never heard of Amanda Lear.  Don’t feel bad – until very recently, neither had I.

Amanda Lear was a “Swinging London”-era fashion model who worked for Yves Saint Laurent and Coco Chanel and hung out with Twiggy and Pattie Boyd. 

She met surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in 1965 and became Dalí’s muse and soulmate, posing for a number of his drawings and paintings.

Salvador Dalí and Amanda Lear
Later, Lear was engaged to Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, and appeared on the cover of that band’s For Your Pleasure album: 

In 1973, she hooked up with David Bowie, who paid for her to take singing and dancing lessons and helped launch her musical career.  

Lear cranked out a number of kitschy disco hits in the next few years.  In 1979, she married bisexual French aristocrat Alain-Philippe Malagnac d'Argens de Villèle, the former lover and then adopted son of a diplomat and gay novelist Roger Peyrefitte.  Dalí didn’t approve of the marriage, and he and Lear began to drift apart after over a decade of very close friendship.

Amanda Lear posing for Dalí
For years, it was rumored that Lear was a pre-operative transsexual male or a hermaphrodite.  Lear put those rumors to rest for once and for all by posing nude for Playboy.  (If you’re a doubting Thomas, you can click here to satisfy yourself that our little Amanda is all woman.)

Lear’s version of “Wild Thing” was released in 1986 on her seventh studio album, Secret Passion.  The music video featuring that song is one of the damnedest things you’ve ever seen.

It was shot in Salvador Dalí’s favorite suite in the Hôtel Meurice in Paris, and shows Lear– who was 38 years old at the time – in bed with Jean-Luc Lahaye, a French actor and singer who was 13 years younger than she was.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.)  

Despite his youth, Lahaye seems to be a couple of quarts low in the testosterone department.  He seemingly couldn’t care less that he is in bed with a total hottie who is singing ‘Wild Thing” to him. 

Lear takes her bathrobe off and dances around the room in a red bustier as two sexy housemaids watch.  Eventually Lahaye gets the message, and he and Lear dive under the covers to do a little horizontal mamboing.  (About time!) 

*     *     *     *     *

Songwriter Chip Taylor (who is the brother of Jon Voight and the uncle of Angelina Jolie) wrote not only “Wild Thing” but also “Angel of the Morning,” “I Can’t Let Go,” and many other songs.  

Brothers Jon Voight and Chip Taylor
“Wild Thing” was commissioned by the producer of the Wild Ones, who were once the house band at the famed Peppermint Lounge in New York City.  Their recording of the song – which was released in November 1965 – failed to chart.  

But a cover of “Wild Thing” recorded by the Troggs, a British band, made it to the #1 spot on the Billboard “Hot 100” in July 1966.  

Since then, the song has been covered by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to the Runaways to Cheap Trick to Hank Williams, Jr. to Bruce Springsteen to Prince to X, whose version was featured in the movie Major League whenever Charlie Sheen’s character – Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn – entered a game:

The late comedian Sam Kinison did a bizarre music video of “Wild Thing” with Jessica Hahn.  Jon Bon Jovi, Rodney Dangerfield, Stephen Tyler, Billy Idol, and Tommy Lee also appeared in the video.  You can click here to view that video.)

Here’s Amanda Lear’s very odd “Wild Thing” music video:


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