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Rock Tales #666-Jay Vaquer

Mamonas Assassinas-Photo from Playgrounds Magazine
Last year, about this time, there were five young (between 22 and 26 years old) musicians in Sao Paulo, Brazil who called themselves Utopia. They played some serious rock and roll but not too many people seemed to care. Their first record sold 50 copies, to friends and family, and they were looking at their day jobs as their main source of income. The guitarist of the group, Bento, was a close friend of my son Djae, who was recording his first L.P. in a garage studio owned by Rick Bonadio, the keyboard player in my son's group. Rick was sympathetic to Bento's predicament and offered to produce his group if they changed their name and image. Rick suggested they combine humor with satire in their lyrics, mix heavy metal with indigenous Brazilian music styles, and wear costumes from cartoon characters. Bento agreed to all of Rick's suggestions and they became Mamonas Assassinas. A mamona is a green fruit with spiny protrusions and is also slang for a woman's breasts. It would translate to Killer Melons or Killer Tits. They spent the following months writing irreverent, immoral, and sexually explicit lyrics, which were humorous, and recording their new L.P. titled Mamonas Assassinas. When all the tracks were finished, Rick took the master tape to Los Angeles and mixed at The Enterprise Studio with Jerry Napier, who does Ozzy Osbourne. When they returned to Brazil, Rick arranged a manufacturing and distribution deal with EMI-Odeon Records and they were put on the market in July. Rick was also their manager and booked a national tour including all the cities. They started out getting about $1,000 per show. Then, the unprecedented magic ( black or white) began. They became an overnight phenomena. During the following six months they sold over 1.8 million records and for that achievement were featured in a December issue of Billboard Magazine. Their audience was primarily kids and teens and their shows were going for $50,000 each by the new year. They played 200 dates from July 1995 through February 1996 and grossed over 3 million dollars just from the live shows. The final show of their tour was in Brasilia on March 2. They planned on taking vacations and enjoying their new found wealth and fame after this final show. They left Brasilia at 11 P.M. after the show and while trying to land in Sao Paulo at 11:30, their chartered Lear jet slammed into a mountain top doing 200 miles an hour. It then cut a path 200 yards long down the hillside, knocking down huge trees and spreading debris along the way. The following morning all of Brazil was shocked to see the televised rescue attempt. All 9 passengers had been killed instantaneously on impact. The 5 Mamonas, the stage manager, the body guard, and the pilot were severely mutilated. The only body intact,save a few visible bone fractures, was the co-pilot's. Millions of Brazilian children and teens wept, horrified, seeing their idols' body parts being taken from the mountainside by helicopter. The media spared no gore as later in the week magazines showed pictures of the crash sight with the dismembered bodies being collected in full color. Over 100,000 fans came to the funeral which, coincidentally, was held on the lead singer's birthday (Dinho would have been 25) and sang the Mamonas' hits to the closed coffins.


There were many strange ironies and mysteries surrounding the tragedy. First was the crash itself. The pilot made four errors in less than five minutes trying to land. The jet approached the runway at twice the speed for landing and too high. The airport procedure for this overshoot was to turn to the right, climb to 1800 feet and circle. After he overshot the runway, he turned left and went to 900 feet then hit the rock. Speculation is one of the Mamonas was flying the jet instead of the pilot. This Lear jet, PT-LSD, had no black box and the pilot was in communication with the tower seconds before the collision and gave no explanation for the aborted landing. Secondly, at the end of the year, a famous Brazilian psychic, Mae Dinah, predicted the death of the Mamonas in a air disaster. She said the first time she saw them on T.V. she noticed dark shadows around them and their death was imminent. The third coincidence was the drummer of the group, Sergio Reoli, who collected news clippings of plane crashes as a hobby. The fourth was from the keyboardist, Julio Rasec, who just hours before leaving for Brasilia went to a hair dresser to get his hair dyed red. The hair dresser always video taped his customers and on this tape Julio said he had a dream, last night, that their plane crashed. In the real crash, Julio was decapitated. It gets more macabre. Dinho, the lead singer, was a sex symbol and always stripped down to a G-string during their shows. He was found missing both legs, his genital organs, and the top of his head from the mouth up. The guitarist, Bento Hinoto, also played in his underwear and was found dismembered and decapitated. The other members were found scattered in pieces over a 40 yard radius. The Mamonas took several publicity photos in which the three front men squatted down and pulled their shirts down to their shoes creating the illusion of no legs. In the crash, they lost their legs. Despite their enormous popularity, the moral majority did not like their children singing those nasty songs. In Brazil, Christians can pray to a Saint to kill someone and the results of this crash take on the aspect of Voodoo. The Mamonas corrupted millions of children with their sexual lyrics, and the rescuers found three sets of genitals in the woods. These guys sang about their peckers, played in their underwear, broke all the rules and, as if through some cosmic karma, paid the ultimate price for their success. I'm sure the priests in Brazil will write many sermons on this subject. And, of course, the practitioners of black magic will claim the influence of the evil demons responsible for the Mamonas' meteoric success were the same ones responsible for this tragic ending. You don't really think the Devil plays fair do you?

Rock lesson # 666- Death can be stranger than life.






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