During the late '50s through early '60s, a number of Northeast Ohio's major media heads were documenting the wild, primitive impulses that ran contrary to the prevailing rosy image of America. Alan Freed brought fucking music to Your Hit Parade. Ghoulardi cracked six-packs and frogs live on his monster movie TV show. And somewhere in between, mild-mannered transplanted Californian Pete Meyers, a.k.a. The Mad Daddy, created the most way-out radio personality ever.
Starting at some dinky station in the sticks, The Mad Daddy eventually got a slot on WHK, then the most powerful signal in one of the top radio markets in the land. While juggling eight turntables, he blurted out a mile-a-minute mélange of beatnik banter, horror-show googly-moogly, and jarring sound effects, all while introing the sleaziest R&B of the time. Most amazingly, he created his own wacky vocabulary, constantly rhyming real and imagined words throughout the four-hour broadcast. And he did it all in the black cape and pancake makeup he wore to personal appearances for his legion of mainly tot-to-teen fanatics.
A supposed "big break" at a N.Y.C. station quickly turned into a suit-imposed tone-down. Failure to expand on his initial success led The Mad Daddy to flip his wig for real via a shotgun in 1968. It's our good fortune that Norton Records has tracked down original tapes of some of these broadcasts and compiled this incredible document. It mostly contains the wild one's verbal histrionics (loaded with lost Cleveland references -- who knew there were so many businesses on Prospect!), with a few crazy tunes in between, a 7-inch single he cut in 1959, plus boss liner notes and pix.
Such inspiring, insane genius doesn't have many escape routes these days. It's hard to imagine a local DJ being allowed to laugh and scream through flubbed-up adverts. Hell, it's hard to imagine local DJs anymore.
More than a reminder of how lame radio has become, Wavy Gravy works sonically as almost a hypnotizing mantra. It's perfect for spicing up mix CDs, and it's utter gold for fans of mid-century America's hidden weirdo history.