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[mob] [Fwd: Wesley Willis is dead]
This is from last month.. I'm behind on some of my mailing lists.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Wesley Willis is dead
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2003 15:54:20 -0400
From: R. A. Hettinga <[email protected]>
Reply-To: Philodox Clips <[email protected]>
To: Philodox Clips <[email protected]>
I remember him in his street-artist phase, doodling these intricate
felt-tip streetscapes on the Michigan Avenue Bridge, or underground in
the downtown L stations...
I left town before he got musical, apparently...
Alternative Tentacles - Bands - Wesley Willis
Dear Friends and fellow Wesleynauts,
We are deeply saddened to report that Wesley Willis passed away
yesterday, Thursday, August 21st. Wesley will be greatly missed by all
that had the privilege to know him, as well as the fans who have been
fortunate enough to experience his genius.
Wesley was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) at the end
of 2002, and had to undergo emergency surgery on June 2nd to identify
the source of, and to suppress internal bleeding. It is not clear if
this bleeding was related to his leukemia or not, and the exact cause of
death is still unknown. Wesley had been recovering at a Hospice in
Illinois, and since the surgery his health had deteriorated rapidly.
His songs were simultaneously disturbing, hilarious, blunt, and
intoxicating. Wesley's sheer excitement and unaffected honesty about
every cultural phenomenon, defined his music as truly individual, and
truly punk rock.
Wesley released well over 50 albums - 3 of which are on Alternative
Tentacles, and a 4th, entitled, Wesley Willis Greatest Hits Vol. 3 (CD)
had already been scheduled for release in October of this year.
For more information on Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, please visit
Currently there are no plans for any funeral service but we will inform
you if there will be.
Wesley Willis' Artist Biography :
Rock over London... Rock on Chicago... The Big W will rock your
world!!!! For those unaware, WESLEY WILLIS was a Chicago icon who
rapidly achieved cult status. He began his career singing on the street,
accompanied by his Technics KN 2000 keyboard. He was soon playing
opening slots for local bands, and later recording songs as an homage to
these performances (i.e.- "Urge Overkill", "Swervedriver", "Foo
Fighters", "The Frogs"). In 1989, WESLEY was diagnosed as schizophrenic;
he explains that writing, performing, and recording help quiet the
voices in his head.
Wesley Willis stood 6'5" tall and weighed somewhere between 300 and 350
pounds prior to contracting leukemia, and liked to greet people with a
headbutt. Wesley enjoyed walking the streets of Chicago, peddling his
detailed ballpoint/felt-tip renderings of the city and riding around on
the bus. On October 21, 1989, he began hearing voices and was shortly
thereafter diagnosed as having chronic schizophrenia. Willis claimed to
have "schizophrenia demons" in his head that take him off of his
"harmony joy rides" to put him on "torture hell rides". In 1992 Wesley
began writing songs, and soon after, guitarist Dale Meiners took Wesley
in to his studio to record them. After many line-up changes, Meiners and
Wesley formed the Wesley Willis Fiasco, with Wesley as frontman. Willis
had built up a small cult following with his bizarre, three-chord rants
about trivial everyday items, music, and people he knows. For the first
part of the 90's, several independently released tapes of his songs appeared
His songs are simultaneously disturbing, hilarious, blunt, and
intoxicating. WESLEY's sheer excitement and unaffected honesty about
every cultural phenomenon, from a city bus ride to McDonald's, coupled
with a refreshingly wacky sense of humor, define his music as truly
individual. Played frequently on the nationally syndicated Doctor
Demento Show and featured in major publications, WESLEY has rubbed
elbows with everyone from Steve Albini to the Beastie Boys' Mike D.
Apart from self-releasing dozens of CDs, Wesley has two albums on
American Recordings. In 1995, his number one fan, Jello Biafra, eagerly
compiled WESLEY's Greatest Hits Volume I, which was soon followed by
Volume II in 1999. Alternative Tentacles Records then released Rush Hour
LP/CD in 2000. Greatest Hits Volume 3 had been scheduled to come out on
October 6th, and it still will. It will contain an "enhanced" portion
with some great video footage of Wesley as well as downloadable sounds,
and a gallery featuring his drawin
We love you like a milkshake, Wesley, and we will miss you!
On the road
This event was put on our site the day Wesley died. We do not know if
this is still taking place. I would recommend seeing the exhibit before
it closes however. Its at the Intuit Gallery, 756 North Milwaukee
(http://outsider.art.org). Because Wes missed the opening party due to
his hospitalization, the gallery is holding a closing party for him THIS
SATURDAY, 23 August 2003, from 2-4pm . It'll be a low-key punch and
cookies type event. The publicity for the party is word-of-mouth, so
please tell everyone you know!
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: [email protected]>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'