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"I could have killed Max – the little blue dope – and I'm a pacifist! All he had to do was look at the size of my mouth and my body to see that I don't eat much. Droopy wasn't happy, either. He eats only once a month! Jabba was going to pay us in food! But any boss worth working for pays the band and gives them a meal on top of it! I was wrong to let Max run our business affairs. After this fiasco, I vowed to leave and take Droopy with me. If that fool Rebo wants to work for food, then he should have a solo career."
Sy Snootles[src]

Max Rebo, whose real name was Siiruulian Phantele, was a male Ortolan who was known as a popular musician and head member of the Max Rebo Band. He was a skinny Ortolan, the youngest of five children.


Max Rebo playing the red ball organ.

The male Ortolan named Siiruulian Phantele was born on his species's homeworld of Orto. As he was the smallest of five younglings, his mother feared that he would waste away. As a consequence, Phantele spent his younger years in the pursuit of food. Eventually, he ended up working in a flanth house, where he played for his dinner every night.[5]

One day, Phantele was discovered by Evar Orbus, a crowd-pleasing Letaki wailer who was on the lookout for a young talented yet exploitable entertainer. Orbus approached Phantele, promising him that he would never need to go hungry again, provided that he signed his musical services over. Phantele's constant pursuit of food told him that this was an opportunity not to be missed. Phantele signed himself over to Orbus, and on the recommendation of his new manager, changed his name to Max Rebo. Shortly after, the Max Rebo Band was formed. Rebo played the red ball organ.[5]

Max Rebo at Bezz Drexx's gala

At some point during the Clone Wars, Rebo attended a VIP gala held by Bezz Drexx on Coruscant. He found the reception boring, however, and he spent time off to the side of the crowd, with his hands in the pockets of his tuxedo.[6][7]

In 3 ABY, Evar Orbus was killed by Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, because the band came to Tatooine to take their job at the Mos Eisley Cantina. This was when Sy Snootles encouraged Rebo to take lead of the musical group. Snootles, however, discreetly controlled the band herself, letting naïve Rebo take the credit as frontman. She did this in order to avoid becoming the target of those that the band might—and most likely would—potentially anger.[4]

Snootles' plan had terrible repercussions for the band however, when Rebo signed the entire band over to Jabba Desilijic Tiure with a lifelong contract including an unlimited supply of food.[4]

The band was confined to performing in Jabba's Palace, until Jabba died at the hands of Leia Organa and the Rebels.[4] After Jabba was killed, he went on tour with Sy since his other band member Droopy left to find his brothers in the desert. After Sy set off on her own, Rebo set out on his own solo career, and after many tours, joined the Rebel Alliance to entertain soldiers.[5]

He eventually left the music industry, and opened his own chain of restaurants: Max's Flanth House. He became quite rich, and finally settled on Coruscant.[5]

Behind the scenes[]

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"The main difficulty was that it made me deaf for a few days. As I couldn't see I had to be given instructions by an earphone, but it got so tightly wedged into my ear that it affected my hearing for days after."
―Simon Williamson on wearing the Max Rebo costume[8]

Max Rebo was created for Richard Marquand's 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi,[3] and first appeared in the film's novelization, released earlier in the same year.[9] In the movie, he was portrayed by Simon Williamson, who also puppeteered Nien Nunb and a Mon Calamari, in addition to playing several Gamorrean guards. In his role as Rebo, Williamson wore a costume[8] from the waist up that was constructed by Industrial Light & Magic.[10] The costume was very tight-fitting, and has prompted Williamson to count himself lucky for not being claustrophobic. Unable to see, he was issued instructions via an earphone while wearing the costume.[8] Two additional puppeteers helped to control the character's head and limbs.[11][12]

Visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett advises Simon Williamson inside of the Max Rebo costume.

While the visual evidence from the finished film is inconclusive, production sketches and the construction of the costume itself indicate that the limbs Max uses to play the keyboard are feet rather than hands.[13] Max was intended to be perched on a cushion at the same height as the organ's keys, and using his sole two limbs to play the keys. However, the 1989 West End Games sourcebook Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races took the interpretation that Max was sitting or standing inside an enclosure of his organ with the lower part of his body obscured by the instrument, and depicted Ortolans that are roughly humanoid in body construction, with two arms and two legs. All subsequent depictions of the species have used this configuration.

Since Return of the Jedi's release, Rebo has appeared in various works of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. He and fellow band members Sy Snootles and Droopy McCool were featured in the short story And the Band Played On: The Band's Tale, included in 1996's anthology Tales from Jabba's Palace, which told of how their band came to be in Jabba's service and established them as rivals of Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes,[4] the band seen in the Mos Eisley Cantina in the original Star Wars film.[14] Who's Who in the Max Rebo Band, an article published in the sixty-seventh issue of Star Wars Insider in 2003, was the first source to mention Rebo's real name of Siiruulian Phantele.[5] The director's commentary on the DVD release of Star Wars: Clone Wars revealed that Rebo is present among a group of Ortolans seen in the twenty-second episode of the series.[15]

As Rebo resembles a Cerulean elephant, it is noteworthy that "Phantele" becomes "Elephant" when the syllables are swapped, and that "Siiruulian" resembles the word "Cerulean". However, no official source has confirmed that Who's Who author Rich Handley intended this parallel. The first Star Wars special of the American cartoon Robot Chicken poked fun at Rebo's resemblance to an elephant, presenting every song title of the Max Rebo band as asserting that Rebo is not an elephant.[16]

A blue-skinned elephant creature named "Hooter" appears and plays a keyboard in Michael Jackson's short film Captain EO. Many fans have speculated that Rebo inspired the creature's design, and although the speculation is not confirmed, it is noteworthy that Star Wars creator George Lucas served as the executive producer of the film.[17][18][19]


Ambiguously-canon appearances[]

Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]

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