26th August 2003, 03:33
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Wesley Willis Dead at 40
Chicago Musician Wesley Willis Dead at 40
Mon Aug 25,11:36 AM ET Add Entertainment - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Jonathan Cohen
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Singer/songwriter Wesley Willis (news), a diagnosed schizophrenic who recorded more than 50 albums during his career, has died after a long battle with chronic myelogenous leukemia.
The Chicago-based artist underwent emergency surgery to suppress internal bleeding on June 2 and remained in hospice care until his death on Aug. 21. He was 40.
Standing 6'5" tall and weighing more than 300 pounds, Willis began writing songs in 1992, primarily about his favorite rock 'n' roll artists. He would also be frequently seen riding the Chicago bus lines, selling his accomplished pen drawings of the cityscapes.
In the mid-'90s, Willis released two albums for Rick Rubin's American Recordings label. They deviated little, if at all, from formula: three chords, a chorus with the subject's name repeated over and over, and an outtro featuring the slogan, "Rock over London, rock over Chicago."
Willis' "Greatest Hits Vol. 1" was released in 1995 by Alternative Tentacles, the label run by former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. A second volume followed in 1999 and a third edition will be released on Oct. 7. "Volume III" will feature video footage of Willis as well as downloads and an art and photo gallery.
"Wesley will go down as one of the most unique songwriters and entertainment personalities in history," Biafra said in a statement. "His music, lyrics, drawings, insight and the way he put them together are like no one else. Ever. There will never be another. As I got to know Wes, what really struck me was his sheer will power, his unrelenting drive to succeed and overcome his horrifically poor background, child abuse, racism, chronic schizophrenia and obesity, among other things. He was the most courageous person I have ever known."
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Personally I liked his music. Cut the mullet, and Dave Grohl were my favorites. He will be missed by me
I came for the hatred.
I stayed for the ballbag.