Outsider musician Larry "Wild Man" Fischer passed away last week at the age of 66 due to heart failure. He wasn't exactly the most well-known musician in the world, but his blend of crazed outsider songwriting and a knack for attracting some popular friends -- including Rosemary Clooney, Frank Zappa and Mark Mothersbaugh -- not to mention tours with Solomon Burke, Alice Cooper, the Byrds and others, ensured his place in popular culture. His songs are not traditional, by any means, but they've somehow always managed to have a character and feel unlike anything else before them.
That's mostly due to Fischer's mental health problems. As a child, he was admitted into mental institutions twice, and he spent the majority of his life living on the street. Even at the end, he spent his time in an assisted-living hospital for the mentally ill. His first album, An Evening With Wild Man Fischer, was produced and released by Frank Zappa on his Bizarre Records label. After a falling out between the two, Rhino Records released the rest of Fischer's material between 1975 and 1983; in fact, Fischer's Wildmania was Rhino's first-ever release and is often credited with moving the record store into the label space. To celebrate his curious style, we've included five of our favorite tunes below.
This song is not really one of Fischer's best -- in fact, it's one of his most manic, weird and difficult-to-listen-to tracks -- which is why we've included it here, because it's a perfect example of how fractured his songwriting style was. The song bounces through several popular songs and several of his own songs, and ends up being a chaotic, crazy train wreck that's impossible to look away from.4. "Think of Me When Your Clothes Are Off"
Ah, nothing screams a great song like blatantly obvious, slightly pervy lyrics. Sure, it's a bit weird and not nearly as catchy as most of Fischer's material, but it manages to say what we've all said at some point in our lives, whether we've actively expressed it or not.3. "I'm a Christmas Tree"
Hey, nobody ever said a song needs to be long to be enjoyable. In fact, at less than thirty seconds long, we'd say "I'm a Christmas Tree" is the perfect length.2. "Monkeys vs. Donkeys
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You don't have to play a guitar the right way in order to play this song, which means it's a track anyone can sing and play along to just driving around in their car. And you will -- we can't explain why, but "Monkeys vs. Donkeys" will inevitably end up popping into your head time and time again.1. "Merry-Go-Round"
This was probably Fischer's most popular song, and although it's a little ear-numbing, it somehow manages to worm its way into your head and will almost certainly leave you humming the tune for the rest of the day. You might find yourself retching a bit on first listen, but we can almost guarantee you'll start singing it at some point today.