25 August 2003

Today is a sad day for musicians and music lovers everywhere: Wesley Willis is dead.

I was introduced to Wesley by Todd Gustafson, who graduated from my high school in 1996 and went to Northwestern. Some time during his freshman year, he gave a member of our Quiz Bowl team a tape of Wesley's music, and we played it during a log car trip to somewhere in northern Minnesota. The only description we got was that it was music by "a 400-pound black schizophrenic from Chicago who writes songs and draws pictures." We heard such classics as "Rock and Roll McDonalds," "I Whupped Batman's Ass," "Northwest Airlines," and "Chicken Cow." We were hooked.

I saw Wesley in concert in San Francisco in January, 2002. He was amazing. He played for about two hours, headbutted dozens of admiring fans, and consumed about ten litres of Pepsi onstage. He played many of the old favourites as well as some timely pieces such as "Osama Bin Laden" and "Grand Buffet" (the name of one of the opening acts). It was well worth spending $20 and waiting through three pretty dreadful opening acts.

In case the Reuters brief doesn't convey the full meaning of Wesley, here are an article and a concert review that do him better justice.

Rock over London, Rock on Chicago.

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