The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Wild Busker Has Gone

Sad to hear that Larry “Wild Man” Fischer died of a heart attack in Los Angeles on Wednesday at the age of 66. Fischer, a mentally ill street musician who was at one time a familiar face on the Sunset Strip selling his songs for 10 cents apiece, recorded several albums (one produced by Frank Zappa), appeared on the Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In television series, and had a documentary made about him,dErailRoaDed in 2005. He has performed with Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Rosemary Clooney, Barnes & Barnes and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo. In 2004 Fischer performed “Donkey vs. Monkeys” on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Thomas Pynchon mentions Fischer in his 2009 novel Inherent Vice on page 155.
From The New York Times obituary:
Lawrence Wayne Fischer was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 1944. From his youth on, whenever he was in a manic upswing — a state of intense creative energy he would call the “pep” — songs cascaded out of him.
At 16, after he threatened his mother with a knife, she had him committed to a mental institution. He was committed again a few years later.
After being released for the second time in his late teens, he lived mainly on the streets. Dreaming of becoming a famous singer, he performed in local talent shows.
He gained a small following and by the mid-1960s was opening for the soul singer Solomon Burke. He later opened for Alice Cooper, the Byrds and others.
Most of the time, though, Mr. Fischer stood on the Sunset Strip, where for a dime, or even a nickel, he would sing for passers-by. Mr. Zappa discovered him there and in 1968 released “An Evening With Wild Man Fischer” on his label Bizarre Records.
Mr. Fischer eventually fell out with Mr. Zappa, as he did with nearly everyone in his orbit. He languished until the mid-1970s, when he was almost single-handedly responsible for the birth of Rhino Records.
Rhino had been a record store in Los Angeles; Mr. Fischer, a habitué, recorded a promotional single, “Go to Rhino Records,” in 1975. Demand for it proved so great that it catapulted the store’s owners into the record-producing business.

      I remember listening to this with a young love when I was seventeen. Sad that he has left the stage. I have a friend who made a living by busking for a very long time. Sometimes the sky was his only roof and he lived rough. Many great musicians do and so pass unnoticed in obscurity. Art can be a harsh mistress. She sometimes uses up her lovers.

    The next time you see a man playing behind an open guitar case, drop in a dollar or maybe even a five if you can spare it.

    For Wild Man Fischer and all the others like him.

     Be seeing you.


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