Wild Man Fischer (1944-2011)
Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Wild Man Fischer (2005)
Lawrence Wayne "Wild Man" Fischer (November 6, 1944 – June 16, 2011) was an American street performer known for offering erratic, acapella performances of "new kinds of songs" for a nickel or a dime each on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Most of his life was spent homeless or institutionalized, and he later became regarded as "the godfather of outsider music".
Born in Los Angeles, Fischer was repeatedly sent to mental institutions as a teenager, where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In 1968, he recorded a double album, An Evening with Wild Man Fischer, that was produced by Frank Zappa for the Bizarre label. At one point, Fischer was the opening act for the Byrds, Iron Butterfly, Solomon Burke, and Bo Diddley. His relationship with Zappa came to an abrupt end after an argument about royalties.
In 1975, Fischer helped jumpstart Rhino Records with the novelty single "Go to Rhino Records". The label put out a trilogy of albums that ultimately became his last: Wildmania (1977), Pronounced Normal (1981), and Nothing Scary (1983); the latter two were produced by the comedy music duo Barnes & Barnes. A documentary about Fischer's life, Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Wild Man Fischer, premiered at the South by Southwest festival in 2005. In 2004, he consented to move into an assisted-living hospital. He died of heart failure several years later at the age of 66.