Feature: A View from the Id

Let’s Merry-go Merry-go Merry-Go-Round with Wild Man Fischer on March 22

Author: Bob Etier
Published: March 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Wild Man Fischer. There’s a name I haven’t heard in many years. In the opening of a documentary (now on DVD) that chronicles his life, Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Larry “Wild Man” Fischer (2005), we are introduced to Wild Man (Larry) Fischer, a once-promising musical genius, now a “crazy” old man who thinks he’s an “everyday normal person.”

Fischer is a manic-depressive paranoid schizophrenic who spent his miserable childhood isolated in his room, making up songs and singing them. When he was sixteen, his mother had him committed to a mental hospital because he was too dangerous to keep at home (he had attacked both his mother and brother with knives). After his release in the late sixties, he sang original songs on the street for a dime, becoming “LA’s Godfather of Outsider Music.”

With songs like “The Taster,” “Merry-Go-Round,” and “Which Way Did the Freaks Go?” and an association with Frank Zappa, Fischer showed great potential, but his personal “demons” would keep him from achieving the success he craved. Introduced on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” as the “choir director of the beautiful downtown Burbank glee club,” he made several appearances, much to the puzzlement of viewers.

Director Josh Rubin and crew followed Fischer, interviewing him, listening to his paranoid rants, and capturing his continued self-imposed isolation from the world. His illnesses and various treatments robbed him of many memories, and he often didn’t want to talk about particular past occurrences. Also interviewed for Derailroaded were Gail Zappa, Weird Al Yankovic, Solomon Burke, Dr. Demento, Barnes and Barnes, Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo), and other industry insiders, friends, and relatives. Frank Zappa is heard and seen in archival clips.

Derailroaded is an absorbing study of a tortured man who spent his life chasing one dream—to be a rock star—a goal that was always just out of his reach. DVD release date: March 22, 2011.


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Article Author: Bob Etier

Two words describe Bob Etier: "female" and "weird." Like many freelance writers, there's something about her that isn't quite right. Read her stuff and find out what.

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