Gary Wilson | Artist

Gary Wilson | Artist

Tags: Era_1970s, Genre_Experimental, Genre_Pop_Rock, Origin_USA, Type_Artist

Gary Wilson is an American experimental musician and performance artist born 1953 in Endicott, New York. He is best known for his 1977 album You Think You Really Know Me, after which he retired from recording and performing concerts. He slowly gained a strong cult following during the 1980s and 1990s, and in the early 2000s became active again, with the release of his second album Mary Had Brown Hair, 27 years later. Wilson's father worked for IBM and by night played stand-up bass in a lounge bar four nights a week for 25 years, at the same hotel. Gary was a self-taught musician and musical prodigy, being proficient in guitar, bass, drums, piano and cello by the time he entered grade school. At 12, he started acquiring tape machines and began recording songs in his parents' basement. Around this time, he became fascinated by the Beatles and attended their famous 1965 concert at Shea Stadium. A year later, he played in a band called Lourde Fuzz and cut a single when he was only in eighth grade. The group earned a spot opening for The 1910 Fruitgum Company. In 1969 Wilson discovered the music of modern composer John Cage whom he contacted. Cage invited the 14-year-old Wison into his home to discuss and critique music for several days, instilling in him the credo "if your music/performance doesn't irritate people, you aren't doing your job." Wilson's songs became increasingly experimental after this point. He started out recording his debut full length album You Think You Really Know Me, at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, but preferred to finish recording at his familiar home studio in his parents' basement. Wilson played most of the instruments, with some accompaniment from a backing band, The Blind Dates. He pressed, distributed, funded and released the album himself. The artist has gone on the release 13 studio albums, the latest being Tormented (2020). Standouts include You Think You Really Know Me, Mary Had Brown Hair, Lisa Wants to Talk to You, and the 2003 compilation Forgotten Lovers. Wilson's concert performances were typically bizarre and outrageous, with the artist often wrapped in cellophane, duct tape, bed sheets, fake blood, flour, and milk. So outlandish were his shows that often the electricity was cut in attempts to get him off the stage. After a 1981 American tour, he retired from the music scene and dropped off the public radar. Then around 1996, the artist Beck began citing Wilson as an influence in concerts, at award ceremonies, and on his album, Odelay. In the early 2000s, Motel Records began a search to find the reclusive musician, but were unsuccessful, even after hiring a private detective, who was eventually found through ex-band members. He was then nearly 50 years old, working part-time at The Jolar Cinema adult theatre and playing keyboard in a weekly jazz act called Donnie Finnell & Company East at the Rancho Bernardino Lounge.

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Video Clips: 6.4 = Make Out, Music for Drums, Linda Wants to be Alone

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