year after Jacques Fred Petrus' and Mauro Malavasi's first production
together, 1979 was to become one of their most hectic year in
their common career.
a rather slow start in 1978 with their studio group "Macho's"
mini-album Petrus/Malavasi aimed much higher this time with
four complete albums simultaneously produced. One of them was
Petrus "own" group Peter Jacques band (PJB), a name
that played a little bit with his own name reversing the order
first release of PJB was "Fire night dance" in 1979.
PJB was, like all Petrus productions at the time, a pure studio
concept and not a real band. Petrus simply recorded a few songs
with his in house Italian songwriters, used some fancy photos
on the album cover and hired a touring staff (that may alter)
to act as the band on tour, and that was it. The
touring staff in 1979 is unknown and the three persons on the
cover seems to be there just for the looks of things. One that
did get an offer though was Mic Murphy that acted as road manager
of the funk band Kleeer at the time and later became the co-runner
of Petrus Little Macho office in NYC. He was together with a
few friends offered a touring contract but the money
was ridiculously low so that was a no deal.
release only included four extended tracks like most of the
early albums of Petrus and Malavasi. The music breathes power
and energy with sleek melodies even though the material is inconsistent.
The first track "Walking on music" got the perhaps
best hit potential with a fast tempo explotion of strings, hight
pitched voices and a sleek melodie. "Devil's run"
got a more modern and funkier sound palette showing a strong
piece with a long appealing break. The tracks on the B-side
continues in the same style, fast, energetic and polished disco
but without making any major impression. Besides Malavasi as
a lead character that composed, arranged and conducted the album
fellow Italians of Gianolio and Trevisi played crucial roles.
Trevisi even was the co-arranger, composer and conductor together
with Malavasi. The engineer of Maurizio Biancani in the Bologna
studio was also an important man at the time with his skillful
technical knowledge that was well used by Petrus. Besides Malavasi,
Gianolio and Trevisi no other musicians are mentioned on the
album that instead refer to the musicians from Macho's album
in 78 as the musicians on PJB. The most well known of them was
Leroy Burgess that worked with many great disco acts during
the late 70s and early 80s like "Black ivory", "Aleem"
and "Inner life". Petrus himself was both the producer
and executive producer even though all the productions practically
were a thing that Malavasi handled. Petrus also contributed
with the idea of the cover that was different on the European
and American releases. The European was a bit dark an mystical
and the US release more colorful and expressive.
debut was musically not very interesting, the tracks sounded
very much the same but the first two tracks showed a potential
that also brought attention to the new band. Malavasi also had
the chance to learn and develop the sound that led to even further
and greater success later on. When it comes to PJB they were
to come back one year later and this time with a more interesting
and broader material. "Dire night dance" sold not
bad though and in that perspective it was a relatively good
affair. A better production of Goody music to catch that year
was Revanche's one and only mini-LP "Music man" that
showed some real disco potential, an album that can be highly
most successful result
all the productions from the first period of Petus and Malavasi
between 1978 and 1980 PJB's album in 1980 together with Change's
debut the same year have to been seen as their two most successful
ones, both musically and economically. After the minor success
with "Fire night dance" in 79 their second and highly
competitive, full-size, 6 track album "Welcome
back", with its surprisingly modern sound, became
a masterful result. What strikes you at first is the melodic
and harmonic sound performed with a great amount of fluency,
in other words a very nice and easy listening sound! The Chic
influences are also more present than in 79 and perhaps best
illustrated in the title track with its quirky hard slapping
guitar sound. The whole album is competent but a few tracks
exceeds the rest, like the funky "The louder",
sing along and happy "Is it it" and the
classy knocker "Mighty fine", maybe the most
well balanced and tastefully arranged track from the album.
in all this was PJB's most enjoyable set of music with enough
quality and variation among the tracks to make it one of the
better disco albums of the year and over all. This
year PJB also did get a much more band like identity.
The new and even more successful PJB in 1980 included Jacob
Wheeler (lead vocals), Dianne Washington, Sandi Bass and Von
Gretchen Shepard, all depicted on the cover and, except Sandi
Bass, natives from Chicago, Illinois. Wheeler was the key figure
and had Petrus confidence finding the new PJB members.
being presented as the "Peter Jacques band group"
on the album cover they had nothing to do with the creation
of the music it self and they didn't play any instruments either.
Their role was simply to look good and sing nice. However contracted
for their "pretty faces" all of them had more to offer
than just that. In fact they had all a really versatile and
Wheeler, born in Chicago attended Wheeler an art school
in the same town before he began to study at the Shennan school
of music in Los Angeles where he learned how to sing, play guitar
and dance. During that period he developed his skills and became
a particularly good dancer. In 1979 he formed the duo "Jacob
and Olivier" and worked at the same time at a theater in
Broadway. He was discovered by a producer leading to roles in
musical comedies before he was engaged by Petrus as member of
Peter Jacques band in 1980. He married fellow PJB member Sandi
Washington, born in Chicago she became first a mannequin
and then ended successful studies both in the song and dance
disciplines in Paris. She participated as a dancer in a group
In Paris. She made a positive impression on Wheeler that hapen
to see one of her dancing performanced and not long after asked
her to be a part of PJB.
Bass, born in Nashville, she soon moved to California after
finishing her studies. She moved to an apartment together with
a model and made a living doing different ads. One day her roommate
dislocated an ankle and she jumped in as a model with great
result. She moved to Texas and worked as a model for three years.
During this period the managed to enchant important people in
the showbiz as singer as well and during a fashion/music convention
she was proposed a contract that eventually led to roles in
several musicals of which the most notable is "Hair".
It was during one of these musical occasions she was discovered
by Wheeler that not only invited her to become a part of PJB
but also married her.
Gretchen Shepard, born in Chicago where her mother was a
high school teacher, she became a Harvard student. Despite being
shy and introvert she managed to win the "Miss Black America"
contest in 1975 and earned status as supermodel. Soon after
she was chased by media and different producers for roles in
movies and television and articles in various fashion magazines.
She was a guest at Don Cornelius legendary Soultrain TV show
and featured the front cover of Ebony magazines February issue
1977 (picture). But the most noted performance was made in the
TV-series "Chifs" where she played the role of a singing
police investigator. Another result of the Miss Black America
title gave her the opportunity to participate in various musicals.
It was during that time she met Sandi Bass that introduced her
to Wheeler that eventually made her the fourth member of PJB.
She's sister to Kiki Shepard, former notad hostess of "It's
Showtime at the Apollo" 1987-2002 and minor role actress
in TV-series like "Baywatch", "A different world"
(featuring Denice Huxtable AKA Lisa Bonet and Kadeem Hardison)
long time of silence
five long years Petrus wanted to create just another PJB album.
This time without his musical mastermind Malavasi and in a poor
economical situation together with the new musical world that
looked much different from the one back in 80. Wheeler, Bass,
Washington and Shepard were not used again. Instead Petrus put
together a whole new band for the third time on the third album
comprising the Brazilian Ilto Sampaio, Betty Lami, Carin McDonald
and the Swede Carmen Bjornald (the blonde to the left). Even
though Petrus tried he couldn't revive the power and light from
the early years and the album "Dancing in the street"
in 85 was a weak effort. Petrus even managed to draw Romani
back in action as songwriter and producer after his departure
in 83. But even the talented Romani couldn't create a miracle
that PJB so much needed. Despite rather good poptracks like
the chartbusters "Going dancing down the street" and
"All right let's go" (same tracks as "Let's go
together on Change's album the same year) released the hot summer
of 1985 PJB's last album couldn't lift it self in the hair and
the rest was musically pending from average to poor. Both Change's
album and B. B. & Q band's was better that year, especially
B. B. & Q. band's groovy Jam/Lewis inspired eight piece
gem but ironically PJB did get some slightly more media attention
that year. This fact clearly showed the uncertainty and confusion
in the black music inspired world during these years when main
stream pop/synth music experienced more commercial attention
and were the favorites among the record companies in favour
of the musically more original and tight funk, soul and R&B
Peter Jacques band
saga of PJB was thereby over and no more catchy grooves was
to be heard from them again. Most
of the more or less actual members of this changing project
continued in other fields than music. Von Gretchen Shepard and
Sandi Bass continued their earlier careers as models. Sandi
became a very successful model working for top designers in
Paris, Rome and Tokyo. After that she returned to America and
appeared on different TV shows, published several articles about
modeling and fashion in different magazines both in the US and
the UK. Most recently Bass has worked as modeling/talent scout
with her own company Bass International Modelscout & Management.
Sandi did also marry Wheeler in the late 70s and they have at
least one child together.
the members of the last line up from 85 the Swede Carmen Bjornald
is the most interesting. She became later on a successful jewelry
designer with her own collection. The 39 year old Brazilian
Ilto Sampaio today works as masseur in the Swiss basket team
perhaps two years after PJB's last album Jacques Fred Petrus
was killed as a result of illegal affairs with the Mafia. It
was a sad end for a rarely seen power force in dance music.
are several bootlegs on CD in circulation, but none of them
are official releases, even though they are sold under that
premises, so, be aware of those impostors!
news though is the fact that all three albums were released
on the 15th of November 2005 on the Italian record label Fonte
records as a part of a box of five CDs. The other two CDs included
two double CDs of Petrus/Malavasi productions. More
info about this box and the additional four exclusive boxes
in the series can be found here
the 28th of March 2007 "The very best of Peter Jacques
band" was released on the Italian record label Fonte records.
of Peter Jacques band
click on the covers below to see a complete list of songs from
year & format
(LP & CD)
(LP & CD)
(LP & CD)
All original release years