Wild Man Fischer
|Wild Man Fischer|
|Birth name||Larry Wayne Fischer|
|Born||November 6, 1944|
|Origin||Los Angeles, California|
|Died||June 16, 2011(aged 66)|
|Associated acts||Frank Zappa, Barnes & Barnes, Mark Mothersbaugh, Rosemary Clooney, Dr. Demento|
Larry Wayne Fischer (November 6, 1944 – June 16, 2011), better known as Wild Man Fischer, was an American songwriter in the outsider genre. He was notable for being responsible for Rhino Records' first release, Go to Rhino Records (1975) and was described as a 'cult figure'.
Early life and career
Larry Wayne Fischer was born in Los Angeles, California, United States and attended Fairfax High School. Fischer was institutionalized at age 16 for attacking his mother with a knife. He was later diagnosed with two mental disorders, severe paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Following his escape from the hospital (he said no one ever bothered to take him back there), Fischer wandered Los Angeles singing his songs a cappella for 10¢ US each to passers-by. Discovered on the street by Frank Zappa, Fischer became an underground concert favorite. Zappa was responsible for Fischer's initial foray into the business of recorded music, an album called An Evening with Wild Man Fischer (1968), which contained 36 tracks, some of which contained minimal musical accompaniment by Frank and members of The Mothers of Invention, while most are simply accurate representations of Larry's street performances (sung and spoken).
Zappa and Fischer soon fell out however, over royalties (Zappa retained the rights to the songs) and because of Larry's bi-polar condition. Zappa's widow, Gail, declined to release An Evening with Wild Man Fischer on CD because overall it does not reflect well on her husband. The album was reissued after she died.
In 1974 Larry appeared as a guest vocalist on noise band Smegma's album Sing Popular Songs.
In 1975 he recorded Rhino Records' first release, a single entitled "Go To Rhino Records". Two years later he recorded their very first LP, Wildmania.
In the 1980s, Fischer worked with Barnes and Barnes to produce two albums, Pronounced Normal (1981) and Nothing Scary (1984). In 1986, Barnes and Barnes also wrote and produced "It's a Hard Business", a duet featuring Fischer and Rosemary Clooney. The song was the result of a telephone friendship that began after Clooney heard Fischer's song "Oh God, Please Send Me a Kid to Love". In 1987, Fisher performed his only East Coast performances at the Mass College of Art and Design. In 1988 a judge awarded him royalties on his song "Merry-Go-Round" (from the videocassette release of the movie Medium Cool), but the attorney representing Fischer did not know how to reach him, as he had become homeless again.
In 1998, Date with the Devils Daughter, an album by Robert Williams (a drummer formerly with Captain Beefheart) includes "Hello Robert", which consists of messages that Fischer left on Williams's phone.
In 1999, Rhino released The Fischer King, a two-CD package comprising 100 tracks and a 20-page booklet, which sold out within weeks. The limited-edition album comprises his entire Rhino catalog, including all three of the Rhino albums plus singles, unreleased material, interviews done for this release, and his duet with Clooney. It releases almost everything Fischer ever recorded, except An Evening with Wild Man Fischer, for which the Zappa family still held the rights.
In October 2004, Fischer appeared on ABC-TV's late-night talk/comedy show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He sang "Monkeys vs. Donkeys" while tapping on a backwards acoustic guitar, and also sat for a chat with the host, wherein he explained what it meant to have "the pep" (i.e., when his bi-polar condition is "up" and he's singing happily).
In 2005, Josh Rubin and Jeremy Lubin, collectively known as The Ubin Twinz premiered their documentary about Fischer (five years in the making), entitled Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Wild Man Fischer, at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Fischer's best-known album, An Evening with Wild Man Fischer, remained unreleased on CD until its 2016 CD release on Gonzo Records. The awareness brought to Fischer by Derailroaded did bring all three Rhino albums back in print on CD through Collectors' Choice Music.
Fischer made his final appearance on August 16, 2006, at the Trunk Space in Phoenix, Arizona.
In 2003 Larry suffered a six-month-long paranoid episode, convinced somebody was trying to kill him, and he started living on the streets again. He called Bill Mumy up to 20 times a day, hanging up each time, until Mumy finally had to change his phone number. Fischer eventually moved in with his aunt Josephine, but unfortunately three weeks later she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Larry and his family consented to move him into an assisted-living mental institution. The medications he was prescribed helped him control his behavior, but it also eliminated his "pep," his creative drive.
The last seven years of his life were spent peacefully but uneventfully. Fischer died in Los Angeles, on June 16, 2011 due to heart problems.
- May 1968: Laminas (rare 7" 33rpm project of UCLA art students, three tracks by Larry, miscredited as "Fisher")
- 1968: An Evening with Wild Man Fischer, Bizarre Records
- 1975: "Go To Rhino Records" (single), Rhino Records
- 1977: Wildmania, Rhino Records
- 1981: Pronounced Normal, Rhino Records
- 1981: "Don't Be A Singer"/"I Got A Camera"/"Do The Salvo" (single), Rhino Records
- 1981: The First One ...(First -1), Special Limited Edition
- Monkeys Versus Donkeys, recorded Live at the Latino Ballroom in Pontiac, Michigan January 26, 1979.
- 1981: "Larry Comes Alive" (7-inch EP), ATC Records
- 1983: Nothing Scary, Rhino Records
- 1999: The Fischer King, Rhino Records (compilation of all Rhino recordings)
- "California Births, 1905 - 1995". Familytreelegends.com. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
- Cromelin, Richard (2011-06-18). "Larry 'Wild Man' Fischer dies at 66; vagabond singer made albums with Frank Zappa". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-11-02.
- "R.I.P., Larry "Wild Man" Fischer, Frank Zappa's Discovery". San Diego Reader. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
- "Wild Man Fischer: Outsider musician who was discovered by Frank Zappa but could never transcend his psychiatric disorders - Obituaries - News". The Independent. 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
- Eichhorn, Dennis P., J.R. Williams (w). The Legend of Wild Man Fischer (2004), Top Shelf Productions, ISBN 1-891830-61-9
- "Larry 'Wild Man' Fischer". The Daily Telegraph. 2011-07-08.
- This happened during the filming of Derailroaded.
- Margalit Fox. "Wild Man Fischer, Outsider Musician, Dies at 66". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-06-27.
- The First One ... (FIRST-1) A.T.C. Records, Royal Oak, Michigan, 1981