Wesley Willis Gives Us A Harmony Joy Ride

Inside A Beautiful Mind

Wesley Willis Big Daddy Rock n Roll. Rahh Rohh. Chicago Detroit London rock and roll documentary hot metro finds detroit

CHICAGO _ For the first time, we can get an inside look into the wild mind of musician and street artist Wesley Willis. The six foot five giant weighs in at 300 pounds and delivers a soul pounding heartfelt beat. The Chicago based Willis is the basis for the film "Wesley Willis The Daddy Rock 'n' Roll" directed by Daniel Bitlon. We travel through Chicago with Wesley and meet a network of people who support his artwork and act as his support system.

Wesley lets us into his world and shares his struggle with mental illness. He has heard voices since 1990 and has channeled his energies into drawing and writing songs. We get to see a rare glimpse into his creative process from writing lyrics to laying down music in the studio. Wesley sells his homemade CD's to independent music shops and this allows him to live. He takes public transportation and often writes about his everyday experiences. There is no heavy plot in this production to understand. Wesley Wesley delivers a nonending stream of bizarre obscenities and unrealistic song premises.

Wesley sings along to pre-recorded music by some studio known as the Dust Brothers. The musical component sounds like a casino machine hitting the jackpot and has a Casio keyboard beat. The overall result is very weird and it doesn't sound like anything on the market. Wesley Willis lays down the vocals with lyrics about, "whupping Spiderman's ass" and "whipping Batman's ass" with an overbearing loud tuneless voice. There are some questions here that go unanswered such as who are the Dust Brothers? And why does Wesley Willis plug different companies at the ends of his songs and sign off with, "Rock over London, rock on Chicago"? That is one of his signatures and the core of his artistry.

Wesley Willis Big Daddy Rock n Roll. Rahh Rohh. Chicago Detroit London rock and roll documentary hot metro finds detroit

When Willis visits a Kinkos the camera sits on his right shoulder and you notice a deep scar that goes from his eye to his chin. I never noticed this before and he explains that he received it one day while riding the bus. he claims this person went to prison over it and even writes a song about it. Wesley talks incessantly and it is difficult at times to tell what is real, fantasy or babbling. His vocabulary is very limited but he is also very blunt with his speech. Wesley holds back his foul language when dealing with different people. It is just something that comes with his personality. He also never hesitates to inform people that he is a rock star despite that he is not that well known.

Welsey greets people with, "Say Rahh" which means rock and then he says, "now say rohh" which means roll. That is his mantra, super rock star, and he carries that energy like armor wherever he goes. As you watch Wesley function he becomes endearing and even hypnotic. One can't help but notice his dark skin impression right in the middle of his forehead. A friend explains to him that this is the location of his third eye and one he learns more he will learn "the truth". That is a very interesting notion and whether or not he comprehends this bit of wisdom is undetermined. Wesley tells a friend that he received this welt by doing a head bump with somebody. The truth to that story is never explained. Willis ran through the whole realm of Chicago and that includes the west and south side. He was likely struck by a mugger or someone who intended him harm. Wesley's mind runs around like a rabid gopher and he gives no visible body language that he understands what he has been told. We hear about the medications he is on and get a glimpse into his mental state. He refers to a bad episode as a "hell ride" and he talks about the good times which he relates to as a "harmony joy ride". He is single and has no relationship but admits he would like to have a wife. But that doesn't mean he is without family. The good people of Chicago have accepted him and have gifted him with friendship, family and love.

My Experience With Wesley Willis in Chicago

I used to live on Broadway and Belmont in the '90s and would often see Wesley Willis. Sometimes he would be wearing what looked like a ratty brown poncho. He would be pushing a shopping cart from Jewel Osco with a boombox. Wesley would be singing at the top of his lungs and would be in an alley or heading up a side street. I used to cross the street and try to avoid him because of his appearance. The idea of him being a gentle giant did not come across immediately. Another time I used to see him by the El train by the brown line. Willis was screaming and cussing out a parked car in front of a Caribou Coffee. I used to see his name in the Chicago New City magazine and sometimes in the Reader for his shows at the Metro. Sadly, I never did go see his live shows with the Wesley Willis Fiasco. That would have been something for the history books and I regret not making the trek over there at showtime. Sadly, Wesley died when he was 40 years old due to leukemia.

Wesley Willis Big Daddy Rock n Roll. Rahh Rohh. Chicago Detroit London rock and roll documentary hot metro finds detroit

He appeared on the Howard Stern Show when it ran on the E! Network. I caught that show in the early 2000's and saw that it was a rerun but I had no idea he had passed away. He explained to Howard that he was on tour and on a bus and did not have the correct combination of meds and freaked out on his crew. This was, in fact, a hell ride. I remember Stern did not go into his usual interrogative questions like, "how much money ou making?" and "you must be getting lots of pussy" etc. Stern is uncharacteristic of his typical self and appeared to be cautious and respectful. Keep in mind that Wesley towered in height and was a whopping 300 pounds. The segment was short but we start to see that his star power was growing. Willis also appeared in the film "Supersize Me" with his song "Rock and Roll McDonalds" which is based on the real tourist attraction in the middle of downtown Chicago. I also found a huge black and green tapestry of his face hung up on the wall at Reggies Rock Club in the South Side of Chicago. People were endeared to Wesley as he was definitely an artistic figure of the city and was also very prolific. He attracted the attention of rockers Henry Rollins, Eddie Vedder, and Jello Biafra and his Alternative Tentacles Records label, (who released a commercial compilation of Wesley Willis many songs).

The documentary clocks in under an hour and is a revealing look at a creative mind under mental illness. Wesley sums up his artistry by saying, "God gave me this rock and roll career to keep me busy. Back in 1991 I used to hit old people with folding chairs. Suddenly, I moved to the north side of Chicago, Illinois in 1992. It made a rock star out of me at last. I'm the daddy of rock 'n' roll I'm Wesley Willis, I'm 36 years old. I play music and do art. I have schizophrenia. I have chronic schizophrenia"

You can check out this movie on Amazon Prime or order a DVD.




Hot Metro Finds Detroit Chicago Los Angeles |Wesley Willis Fiasco |Big Daddy Rock 'n' Roll Film| Wesley Willis| Reggies Rock Club Chicago | Rock and Roll MCDonalds | Hell Ride| Harmony Joy Ride | Hot Metro Finds

Sloan at Saint Andrews Hall Detroit|Charlie and the Chcocolate Factory Musical Detroit |Hot Metro Finds | King Kong at the IMAX | Capones GraveTed Cantu|Detroit Entertainment |Detroit Michigan| rock concerts| alternative| Weekends in Detroit| Cantu Art|Metro Detroit Michigan | Led Zeppelin Is Back In Fashion :: Depeche Mode Spirits of the Forest :: INXS Live Baby Live Film :: Radioactive Chicken Heads :: Room 37 Johnny Thunders Movie :: Sad Vacation Last Days of Sid and Nancy :; King Kong at the IMAX :: COVID-19 and Doing Business :: Corona Virus and Social Distancing :; Shut Up Little Man Film :: The Replacements Color Me Impressed Film :: Bad Boys For Life 3 Movie Review :: Faith Over Fear and COVID-19 :: Dumpster Diving For Alternative Sounds 2 :: A- Led Zeppelin Documentary :: WInning In Business During COVID-19 :: Dumpster Diving For Alternative Sounds 3 ::
:: sitemap ::

©2020 Hot Metro Finds, LLC, All rights reserved

BBQ Nation - Metro Detroit, Michigan
Big Tommys Parthenon Novi, Michigan