Chuck Cleaver

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Chuck Cleaver
Wussy performing in 2006.jpg
Chuck Cleaver (left) and Lisa Walker (right) performing as Wussy. Taken on March 18, 2006.
Background information
Born (1959-06-06) June 6, 1959 (age 59)
OriginClarksville, Ohio
GenresIndie rock
Occupation(s)Guitarist, singer-songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1990–present
Associated actsWussy, Ass Ponys

Charles James "Chuck" Cleaver is an American songwriter, singer and guitarist, best known as a member of the Cincinnati-based bands Ass Ponys (formed in 1988, went on hiatus in 2005) and Wussy (formed in 2001).


Cleaver grew up in Clarksville, Ohio, the son of a factory worker who had very eclectic musical tastes ranging from Manu Dibango to Dave and Ansell Collins.[1] He enrolled in the University of Cincinnati in the late 1970s.[2] In addition to his musical career, Cleaver worked as a stonemason, though he stopped after his chiropractor advised against it.[3] He and Wussy band mate Lisa Walker both used to be record traders before their musical careers began.[4]

Musical career[edit]

Cleaver started Ass Ponys in 1988, and they released their first album two years later. During this time, he lived in Bethel.[5] With regard to why Ass Ponys broke up, Cleaver says, "I just kind of felt that Ass Ponys had run its course," and "We were coming up with new material, but I just really wasn’t all that interested in it anymore."[6] After he met Lisa Walker in 2001, around the time Ass Ponys released their last album of original material, Lohio, they decided to form a band, which Cleaver decided to call "Wussy" because "I just like the way it looks on a T-shirt. It's another one of my names ensured not to get anywhere."[1] In an interview with the Portland Mercury, Cleaver said that he originally enlisted Walker to sing with him when he was asked to perform solo for a Cincinnati awards show.[7] He has been called one of the best singer-songwriters in America by Freedy Johnston.[8]

Musical influences and style[edit]

Cleaver has stated that he prefers music that has "something a little messed up with it," and gives Sparklehorse and Tom Waits as examples of his favorite artists.[9] Music critics have described Cleaver's vocal style as an "anxious" and "corkscrew falsetto,"[10] and "a strained, inebriated falsetto that could have easily originated from the mouth of a townie who's witnessed weird stuff for years."[11] Additionally, Neil Strauss has described Cleaver's vocal style as "a cracking, tuneful drawl somewhere between that of Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips."[12]


  1. ^ a b DeLuca, Dan (9 August 2012). "'Best band in America' stops by tonight". Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  2. ^ Cohan, Brad (2012-03-02). "Q&A: Wussy's Chuck Cleaver And Lisa Walker On The Cincinnati Scene, Playing Music With Your Ex, And Shaking The "Critic's Band" Tag". Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  3. ^ "Q&A: Chuck Cleaver of Wussy". The Knoxville Mercury. 2015-04-03. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  4. ^ Riley, Marc (17 October 2012). "Wussy in the studio with Marc Riley". BBC. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  5. ^ "The Ballad of Chuck and Lisa". Cincinnati Magazine. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  6. ^ Cohen, Jason (1 December 2009). "The Ballad of Chuck and Lisa". Cincinnati. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  7. ^ Lannamann, Ned (14 June 2012). "If You Ever Gave a Damn". The Portland Mercury. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  8. ^ Baker, Brian (12 July 2001). "Ass Ponys' Lohio Review". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  9. ^ Bledsoe, Wayne (12 May 2011). "Chuck Cleaver never bet on the Ponys to get rich". Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: Ass Ponys". Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  11. ^ Rowland, Hobart; Burtman, Bob (11 April 1996). "Hillbilly Revenge". Houston Press. Archived from the original on 28 August 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  12. ^ Strauss, Neil (21 November 1994). "Sad Stories And Lonely Characters Tramps". New York Times. Retrieved 11 February 2014.