This week we continue our look at Jewish entertainers in Modern America. Many changed their names to blend in better to the dominant WASP culture. Kirk Douglas (Issur Danielovitch), Jon Stewart (Jon Liebowitz), Paul Stanley (Stanley Eisen) and Gene Simmons (Chaim Weitz) are but some examples. Today we look at 60's rock legends Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
Our story begins with Shlomo Aaronsohn ("Dr. Teeth"), son of a prosperous podiatrist from Long Island. Having failed the entrance exams to medical school, he chose to pursue a career in dentistry. Unfortunately, Shlomo was kicked out of dental school after a notorious incident involving laughing gas, novocaine, several female dental assistants and two gallons of coconut oil.
Shlomo decided to head out west and seek his fortune in Hollywood. He joined up with his old hard partying college roommate, Saul Horowitz (AKA "Animal") and the two hitchhiked West.
They made it as far as Schenectady where they hooked up with Rahel Rubenstein ("Janice"), the daughter of wealthy toothbrush manufacturers. Janice brought new hope to the downtrodden adventurers, as well as a VW bus and a strong addiction to pills and alcohol.
The trio stopped off in Chicago due to mechanical trouble, where a fortuitous meeting at a Chabad house brought in guitarist Aaron Abramson ("Floyd") and his friend from Duluth Allen Zimmerman ("Zoot").
Upon arrival in LA the band had limited success as "Shlomo and the Youngers of Zion", playing mostly Bar Mitzvahs and Chinese Weddings. In 1967 the band moved to the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, where as "Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem" they quickly rocketed to the top of the nascent music scene.
The Band was well received at the Monterey Pop Festival, but were not invited to Woodstock, as Animal had trashed the Who's drumset and Janice had apparently given Janis Joplin a horrible case of STD.
By the early 70's the band was reduced to playing Bat Mitzvahs and Vietnamese Weddings. Fortunately, an old friend of Animal's family, Joshua Cohen ("Fozzy Bear") invited the band to audition for the first season of "The Muppet Show". Although drugs, alcohol and animal control would continue to plague the band, their success was assured for several decades.
Rowlf the dog incidentally is not Jewish. He is in fact a mutt, his mother was a French poodle who was raped by a German Shepherd during the Second World War.
Tune in next week when we look at Kermit the Frog: Why has he never proposed to Miss Piggy and why is he always singing about Rainbows?
Plus: Statler and Waldorf: Bitter old Queens denied the fame of Bert and Ernie because of their refusal to live a closeted life?