Early Zappa protégé and,
more recently, the subject of an acclaimed documentary, was an unintentional
pioneer of “outsider music.” Watch a live video clip, below.
By Fred Mills
Larry “Wildman” Fischer, the rock ‘n’ rolling paranoid
schizophrenic who was discovered by Frank Zappa in the mid ‘60s and went on to
become the (occasional) darling of the DIY/American primitive “outsider music”
scene, passed away this Wednesday, June 15. He was 66. Full details are
unavailable as of this writing, but Fischer’s Wikipedia page indicates the
death came “after heart problems.”
Richard Foos, co-founder of Rhino Records, issued a
statement that read as follows:
I wanted to let everyone know that this morning the spiritual godfather
of Rhino “Wildman Fischer” passed away.
Wildman used to hang out at the Rhino store, So when we wanted to record
a theme song for the store and press it on a 45 we had him make one up.
When we decided to record our first album the only fitting artist was
Wildman. Somehow we managed to sell five thousand records which gave us enough
money to release the next album.
Wildman’s creativity, passion and chutzpah to become as he would say
“bigger than the Beatles”despite having a total lack of musical training,
ability to keep a tune, and being schizophrenic symbolized the can do spirit we
had in the early days of Rhino and fueled us on to never give up.
Wildman never achieved his goal of being bigger than the Beatles but his
passion sparked a little label that has brought joy to millions and if nothing
else 162 plus friends (in the ex-Rhino Clubhouse) who have a deep connection
with each other that never would have existed.
During his heyday Fischer worked with Zappa (there was later
a falling out) and became the first artist to release a record on the Rhino
label. His debut album, An Evening With
Wild Man Fischer remains an underground classic, and while it has never
been officially reissued on CD, it can be found at various helpful portals on
the internet. He also worked with Barnes & Barnes (of “Fish Heads” fame) in
the early ‘80s, additionally recording with DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh.
Sightings of the man grew fewer in recent years, although
from time to time someone would track the mentally unstable Fischer down and
interview him for a music fanzine. Then in 2005 a documentary about Fischer
titled Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of
Wild Man Fischer was released, making the rounds of film festivals and
enjoying a run on the Sundance Channel. It was finally made available this year
Go here for more details on Derailroaded.
Go here to read a review (it originally appeared in issue
#10 of BLURT) and view a trailer of Derailroaded.