alternative-tentacles

6

These are some drawings by Wesley Willis. An extraordinary artist from Chicago, although a very sick and poor person. I first ecountered him when my friend Piotr Gruszczyński played me his music, which then felt like a funny joke to me. After watching “The Daddy of Rock’n’Roll”, a documentary about Willis, I see his stuff from a very different angle. Nevertheless it’s still a very funny listen.

There’s an ongoing exhibition of his works in Chicago right now. I wish I could be there and see it.

Watch a short clip of him being interviewed by Nardwuar (here) and have a quick look at this well-written bio: (source: artinbase.info)

“Wesley Willis (May 31, 1963 – August 21, 2003) was a 6-foot-6-inch tall, 350 lb. African-American musician from Chicago, Illinois and a diagnosed schizophrenic who gained a rather large underground following in the 1990s after releasing several hundred songs of bizarre and simplistic music which became internet phenomena during the early days of P2P file sharing.

Willis and his siblings spent most of their childhoods in various foster homes. In 1989, Willis began hearing “demon voices” and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He often mentioned that his demons were named “Heartbreaker,” “Nervewrecker,” and “Meansucker”. He called his psychotic episodes “hell rides”. Alternatively, rock-and-roll was “the joy ride music” and Willis often indicated that listening to and performing music helped him battle the voices.

In the early 1990s, Willis became creatively active, selling marker drawings of the Chicago cityscape on the street. Some of the drawings would later appear on the covers of his albums. In 1992, Willis joined musicians from the city’s alternative rock scene to form the hard rock band, The Wesley Willis Fiasco, which produced such future file sharing favorites as “Jesus is the Answer” and “Casper the Homosexual Friendly Ghost”. Although few took him seriously, Willis created a buzz in the Chicago music scene and soon caught the attention of American Recordings, a major record label.

Without his band, Willis was signed to the label in 1995 and went on to record two albums while producing dozens of other albums independently. He became a minor novelty rock sensation. He toured frequently, was profiled on MTV and was a guest on The Howard Stern Show on September 26, 1996 where he played nearly-identical songs about Baba Booey and Stern.

Some questioned the aesthetic taste of Willis’ audience. Rock critic Will Robinson Sheff wrote that Willis’ “periodic appearances for crowds of jeering white fratboys evoke an uncomfortable combination of minstrel act and traveling freakshow.” Others heralded Willis as a welcome punk respite from overproduced pop music and pretentious indie rock.

One of Willis’ trademarks was headbutting with his fans. Typically when approached by a fan, Willis would gingerly hold his or her head between his hands and say, “Say rock!” The fan would respond as instructed and he would bump his head against his or hers. Then he would say, “Say roll!” and the fan would again respond as instructed and the two would again bump heads. Willis would repeat this over and over as long as the fan would tolerate it. The large bruise in the center of his forehead resulted from this habit.

On August 21, 2003, at the age of forty, Willis died due to complications from chronic myelogenous leukemia. At the time of his death, he had recorded over 1,000 songs but his total life savings were less than $300.”

(source: artinbase.info)

It is now 10 years since Wesley Willis has passed away.

May his soul rest in peace.

Day: 1066

Shirt: Dead Kennedys - Holiday Inn C.ambodI.A.

Color:  white

Brand: [missing]

Source:  sometimes you find the right people and they find you.  and things like this shirt work their way into your hands.  its these kind of days that i really like.  this very special shirt worked its way into my possession a while back and i couldn’t be happier.  i have a long time obsession with this band, its artwork and all things Dead Kennedys.  its one of the few bands that despite still touring in some rendition and still cranking out tons of iconic merch i will still and always love them.  Black Flag, DK, Joy Division & Misfits their music will always rise above any controversy that might surround them and would be next to impossible to taint the great records and memories they have left on my brain.  

Dead Kennedys - Bedtime for Democracy || Alternative Tentacles 1986

In my early teens I listened to Dead Kennedys on a daily basis. Unfortunately when I discovered heaps of other great bands in the years to come, I sometimes totally forgot how truly amazing the Dead Kennedys discography is. Now and then I will take some days listening to their records and once again acknowledge how fresh and aggressive they still sound.