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Wild Man Fischer: An Evening With Wild Man Fischer

Cult Zappa protégé project finally available on CD.

Wild Man Fischer An Evening With Wild Man Fischer album cover

Discovered busking for pocket change on the Sunset Strip by Frank Zappa, Lawrence ‘Wild Man’ Fischer was a paranoid schizophrenic outsider artist who enjoyed short-lived cult success in late-1960s LA.

Produced by Zappa, his magnum opus is a scrappy sprawl of unhinged nursery-rhyme ditties, most famously Merry Go Round, punctuated by fragmentary anecdotes about Fischer’s life, including his enforced residencies in mental institutions. Zappa plays guitar on two tracks, between cameos by various counterculture luminaries, including Kim Fowley, who hails Fischer as a “growling savage” and a “jackass king”.

While he’s a clear ancestor of mentally fragile DIY artists like Daniel Johnston, Fischer’s yelping proto-punk primitivism is more interesting today as hippie-era historical snapshot than stand-alone musical statement. His violent mood swings led to a serious fall-out with Zappa, whose widow Gail blocked the album’s CD reissue for decades. With both now dead, this tragicomic time capsule is finally available to baffle and disturb a new generation.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.