Friday, July 3, 2015

Mikey Wild, RIP

Mikey Wild, mayor of South Street, punk-rock legend, auteur behind a song any Philadelphian could love called "I Hate New York," and outsider artist par excellence, died yesterday.

Mikey Wild, RIP


Mikey Wild, mayor of South Street, punk-rock legend, auteur behind a song any Philadelphian could love called "I Hate New York," and outsider artist par excellence, died yesterday. Look for an obituary in Friday's Inquirer. Below, see a clip from Ed Wilcox's Wild documentary, I Was Punk Before You Were Punk

Most long time South Street habitues have Mikey Wild stories to tell. Here's a couple.

Chris Simpson of the Philadelphia Record Exchange: "Wow. Mikey would come by the Record Exchange about ten times a day. at the time that store was fairly anarchistic and although it was a real place of business it was also kind of a clubhouse for anybody in the scene. Mikey was like this permanent kid who just loved punk rock and old horror movies, and we used to goof around with him all the time, playing scary music and pretending to be zombies and chase him down the street. I'll say this about him: he was pretty funny. We put out the "I Hate New York" 7" with his band The Mess, which was a band that really lived up to its name. Later, when he became a visual artist we must have bought several hundred of his drawings from him - he'd just dash them off in two or three minutes and sell them for pocket change, or we'd go out and buy him art supplies and he'd do some drawings. The drawings were hilarious: Hitler playing a banjo, the Wolfman smoking a cigarette, Vincent Price hanging out with John Lennon, or Jesus boxing with the Pope. There may be thousands of them. every business on South Street has one or two, probably."

George Manney, Philadelphia musician and filmmaker: "Mikey was a kind soul and funny man. My first recollection of meeting Mikey was after a performance I did at the old JC Dobbs in  the late 70's. He liked how I played the drums and was excited about performing sometime with me. That came true when the late Alan Mann invited Mikey to sing with the Alan Mann Band at JC Dobbs to perform the song, "Die, Die Die".

Mikey was also  famous on South Street selling his homemade chocolate chip cookies laced with pot out on the sidewalk of JC Dobbs.  Later he changed direction and centered his energy on painting and hand drawings that were very abstract.

...Mikey was mentally challenged but the JC Dobbs family understood that & gave the him room and opportunity to grow artistically. Later I had the honor to record and produce his first single, "I Hate New York" live at Revival that also featured Alan Mann and Chris Larkin and released by the owners of the Philadelphia Record Exchange record store on South 5th Street via their independent label, Cry Baby Records. 
One night in the late 80's we invited Mikey up onstage with the Last Minute Jam Band that featured guest bassist, Will Lee of the David Letterman Late Night band. to perform "Wild Thing" and tore up the place leaving a bewildered Will Lee to ask, "who was that cat singing?".

Funny, but I always think of Mikey as that young kid, even as I grew older, he always had the charm & glisten in his eyes and heart that reminded me of that young teen who wanted to go for the gold."
Manney's movie Meet Me On South Street: The Story Of J.C. Dobbs, which features Wild, will be shown at the Franklin Institute on June 23 as part of the Philadelphia independent Film Festival.
Thanks to Sam Wood for gathering these. Check out the Mikey Wild Mural On South Street page on Facebook here.

Inquirer Music Critic
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