Synopsis by Mark Deming
Larry "Wild Man" Fischer was a wildly eccentric singer who in 1968 was discovered on the streets of Hollywood by Frank Zappa, who was intrigued by Fischer's offer to write and perform original songs for passers-by for a mere ten cents each. After hearing a few dollars' worth, Zappa offered Fischer -- who had been wandering the edges of the music business for several years, with no success -- a recording contract, and in 1968 the album An Evening With Wild Man Fischer was released. Sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, and always boasting Fischer's wobbly matter-of-taste voice and adult-child songwriting, the two-LP set of oddball tunes (including "Merry-Go-Round," "Monkeys vs. Donkeys," "Are You From Clovis," and "The Rocket Rock") sold only modestly, and after an altercation at Zappa's home, Fischer soon found himself without a record deal. While he remained a favorite among a tiny cult of admirers, Fischer was difficult for most folks in the music industry to deal with -- he'd been diagnosed as both a manic-depressive and a paranoid-schizophrenic, and his extreme mood swings, obsessive need for attention, and inability to conform to societal standards of public behavior have kept him at the sidelines of show business as a freak talent, when his abilities are acknowledged at all. But there are a number of people who know music and believe Fischer is a genuine talent, including legendary big band singer Rosemary Clooney, soul icon Solomon Burke, Devo leader Mark Mothersbaugh, and music historian and disc jockey Dr. Demento. Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Larry "Wild Man" Fischer is a documentary which offers a look at Fischer's torturous childhood, his strange adventures in show business, his struggle to be heard, and his constant battle with his own demons; the film includes interviews with Fischer and his admirers, as well as vintage performance clips (including his appearance on Laugh-In).
archival-footage, interview, legend [famous person], music-business, musician, rock-music, schizophrenia, underground [counterculture]