THE FUZZTONE (Raisin’ A Ruckus) – by RUDI PROTRUDI
Publisher: Fanpro Publishing 2016
Released: July 2016
Rudi Protrudi invented garage, punk and grunge and got a hell of a lot of blowjobs along the way. He’s managed to burn just about all the bridges with his old band mates and collaborators. That sort of sums up this monumental, two book exercise in narcissism by the infamous front man of the Fuzztones. But wait, amidst all the sexual conquests, musical innovation, conspiracy theories and occasional sheer madness there is an interesting story about a guy who plugged away, usually at the margins of the music industry, and built a legacy that influenced a few generations of would be garage rockers, especially on this side of the Atlantic.
As he says in the opening lines of the book, “Fuck Dick Clark, I am the world’s oldest teenager.” He was born in 1952 in Washington DC and grew up in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. He had his first band at age 13 in 1966, so you do the math. Some of the most interesting stories are from the 60s – like the time he first went to New York and visited Ed Sanders, of the criminally underappreciated band the Fugs, in his hippie bookshop Peace Eye Bookstore. It was his first encounter with the underground movement, the counterculture, and with hardcore smut. He graphically explains all the sexually deviant material there, most of it now illegal anywhere in the world, including Thailand I guess, but what made the biggest impression on him was a photo of James Dean jerking off in a tree. Somehow I don’t have trouble picturing that.
At the same time he started his first band, King Arthur’s Quart, a high school garage band covering the Top 40 material of the day that just happened to be ‘Gloria,’ ‘Woolly Boolly’ and the like. After they broke up he started Rigor Mortis, who hung around until the end of the 60s, and allegedly had a front man who did the crazy Iggy routine a few years before the Stooges – Hence the invention of punk.
At the beginning of the 70s he moved into a trailer and started Springhead Motorshark, a hard rock outfit compiled of bikers and jailbirds – A million and one stories about eating rotten food, drinking warm beer and getting into fights in redneck bars ensue. But towards the mid-70s it gets really interesting. Through his obsession with the New York Dolls he discovers the New York punk scene and auditioned as bass player for the Dead Boys. After playing one gig he gets the boot, but decides to start his own band playing stripped down rock n roll in the vein of the 60s bands he grew up listening to.
The band where his collaboration and love/hate relationship with Deb O’Nair started was Tina Peel. Some really nasty stuff happened and we are not spared any details. After a few years Tina Peel morphed into the Fuzztones and Protrudi finally found his persona and the template for his band. One half 60s psych, the other half outlaw biker schtick.
The next 30 years covered in the book are a repetitious, raunchy ride through countless touring escapades, broken friendships and double-dealing promoters and record labels. There’s the obligatory brush with fame in the late 80s and the sobering crashing down in the 90s. A wild array of characters pass through the pages, including the more known Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Ian Astbury and Sky Saxon, as well as the less famous but not less entertaining Fast Mike, long serving roadie, booker and all round freak magnet.
The book sort of has a happy ending, no pun intended, with Rudi settling down in Berlin with his latest muse, lover and collaborator, Lana Loveland. The two carry on the Fuzztones moniker for years to come.
All in all this book is intended for the Fuzztones completionists or you out there who would like to feast on the gossip and intrigue of the garage rock scene of the last 30 plus years.