Return of the Jedi (partially lost unreleased Max Rebo Band source music from space opera sequel film; 1983)

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Star wars return of the jedi poster.jpeg

The film's theatrical poster.

Status: Partially Lost

Return of the Jedi (retroactively named Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi) is a 1983 film directed by Richard Marquand with a story by George Lucas and was produced by Lucas' production company Lucasfilm Ltd. It is the third film in the Original Trilogy of the Star Wars film series.

Like other films in the series, the original score was composed by John Williams. However, for scenes taking place in Jabba's Palace, which featured a live band known as the Max Rebo Band, diegetic source music was required. These tracks were written by Williams in collaboration with his son Joseph, who is the current lead singer in the rock band Toto, and filmmaker Ernie Fosselius, who directed well-known Star Wars parody Hardware Wars. There were four songs; "Lapti Nek" (film & demo versions), "Max Rebo Source", "Jabba Sail Barge Source", and a fourth, unused source cue, all of which have never been commercially released, and the master recording tapes have seemingly been lost.

Lapti Nek

"Lapti Nek" is the song played in the theatrical cut by the Max Rebo Band in Jabba's palace just before Jabba feeds one of his slave dancers to his rancor monster. During production of Return of the Jedi, three versions of "Lapti Nek" were recorded. The first was an English demo version sung by Joseph Williams himself, originally dubbed "Fancy Man". The second (film) version was recorded with Huttese vocals translated and sung by Annie Arbogast. The third version is the one present on the official album release, as well as the 1993 Original Soundtrack Anthology boxset released by Arista Records, which was sung by Michelle Gruska, and recorded after the film was completed. The vocals provided by Annie Arbogast in the film version were originally intended as a temp track, and was meant to be re-recorded with a professional singer. However, Lucas and Williams made the decision to retain Arbogast's performance.[1]


Of these three versions, only Gruska's version has been commercially released, and was featured on the original Polygram Records release of the soundtrack as well as the Original Soundtrack Anthology released by Arista Records in 1993. Arbogast's version has not been released to this day. According to Lukas Kendall of Film Score Monthly magazine, who wrote liner notes for the 1993 release of the soundtrack, the original master recording tapes of Arbogast's version have been lost.[2]

Both Joseph Williams' English version and Arbogast's version were used as background music for the PBS documentary From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga. In the case of Arbogast's version, fans have created bootlegged tracks by splicing clips from the final film, Gruska's released version, and the documentary, although without being able to remove all of the sound effects and dialogue present in the film.

The 1997 Special Edition release of Return of the Jedi replaced "Lapti Nek" with a new song titled "Jedi Rocks", which written by Jerry Hey. Every subsequent release of the film's soundtrack has included "Jedi Rocks" instead of any version of "Lapti Nek".

Max Rebo Source

This instrumental track can be heard in Jabba's palace while Chewbacca is being led away from Jabba's court.


This track has never been commercially released. An article on the official Star Wars website by Brendan Nystedt explains that the original recording "seems to be lost in the sands of time."[3] According to Lukas Kendall, only overdub tapes (un-edited, un-mastered raw stems) could be located in 1993 for potential inclusion in the Anthology boxset, while the final master tapes had already gone missing. However, due to lack of time and the intensive work needed to transfer and reconstruct the music from scratch, the tapes were not used. As of 1996, Mike Matessino was unable to locate any tapes containing the Max Rebo source music for potential inclusion in the 1997 2-disc Special Edition album.

Like Arbogast's version of Lapti Nek, this song was used in the From Star Wars to Jedi documentary, and fans have used clips of the song in the documentary and the final film to create bootlegged versions, although with noticeable changes in sound quality.

Jabba Sail Barge Source

This track can be heard on Jabba the Hutt's sail barge before the Sarlacc is revealed. It shares a nearly-identical melody to that of "Max Rebo Source", but played in a different key, and includes different orchestration and instrumentation, primarily being played on analog synthesizers.


This piece shares the same fate as "Max Rebo Source". It would have likely also been included in the overdub tapes, which have since gone missing along with the final master tapes. Unlike the previous piece, this one was not featured in any of the behind-the-scenes documentaries, and therefore has never been heard in full outside of those involved in its recording.

Unused/Untitled Source Cue

Not much is known about this piece. Lukas Kendall came across it during production of the 1993 Anthology boxset, and unlike the other source cues, this one was transferred, but not used. Kendall described it as sounding like "elevator synth music" and "really lame mall elevator music". Its exact intended placement in the film is also unknown, although we know that it was meant to play sometime either right after "Jabba's Baroque Recital" or possibly even instead of it.


This piece has never surfaced, nor has it even been heard by anyone outside of Lucasfilm and their circle. Unlike the previous source cues, this one appears to have been transferred, and therefore it's possible that copies exist somewhere.



Fan Reconstructions

Recreation of the film version of "Lapti Nek" by Auditect.

Recreation of "Max Rebo Source" & "Jabba Sail Barge Source" by Film Score Media.

Recreation of "Max Rebo Source" & "Jabba Sail Barge Source" by ESP1138.

Recreation of "Jabba Sail Barge Source" by Andy Morales.

See Also