Was Janice the Muppet Rickie Lee Jones?

This idea comes to me from a comment to one of my September posts after Mary Travers passed away. (That was Mary of Peter, Paul and Mary.)

Was Rickie Lee Jones an inspiration for Janice the Muppet?

The focus is on the beret and the hair. The poster felt that the beret was a giveaway that Janice is Rickie Lee. To paraphrase Seinfeld’s George Costanza, the beret has the look you want in a ’70′s rocker.

Additionally, Rickie Lee got her career going in Venice, California and had a “California cool” style as a performer. Her biggest hit was definitely more of the easy listening type rock you might associate with a laid back character like Janice.

But there is one small problem, and that is . . .

Janice the Muppet began her regular TV career on the Muppet Show in September 1976. (She had appeared as a character in a 1975 ABC Muppet special.)

In those days, Rickie Lee Jones was, well, still an unknown. According to a fan site, it wasn’t until 1977 that Rickie Lee began writing songs. And not until 1979 that she had her big hit, “Chuck E.’s in Love”. In September 1976, Rickie Lee Jones was still in college.

So it’s just as likely (maybe more likely) that Rickie Lee got the beret from Janice than the other way around.

Artists borrow from each other and copy styles all the time–it’s part of the creative process. It’s part of inspiration. Sometimes it’s from contemporaries, but quite often it’s from the talent that came before.

As a kind of geeky person, I’m just amazed how music talent reaches that level of cool. The artists and the athletes, they’re the ones, you know. (But the artists aren’t usually so, er, “self aware” about it.)

So if Rickie Lee got her hat from Janice, well, how about that? Only Rickie knows for sure.

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