Wednesday, May 17, 2023

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday, Mr. Mothersbaugh!


 I guess he's Devolved into an old man now, (happens to the best of us), but today Mark Mothersbaugh, the voice of Devo, turns 73 tomorrow.

Happy birthday, Spud Boy!

Mothersbaugh was born May 18, 1950 in Akron, Ohio. Attending Kent State University, he fell in with future Devos Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis.

Casale was at the May 4, 1970 where he saw two people he knew -- Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller -- right after they'd been shot by Ohio National Guardsmen. That was impetus for creating Devo -- a band based on the concept of the "devolution" of the human race -- as Casale explained in The Washington Post in 2018.

Mothersbaugh, Casale and various other Devos (including at various points Mark's brothers Bob and Jim) performed around the area for several years. In 1976, they filmed the 9-minute The Truth About De-Evolution, which won a prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. It featured two Devo songs and an appearance by Mothersbaugh's dad, Robert Mothersbaugh, Sr. as "General Boy."

Here's a clip featuring the the original version of "Joko Homo," the first Devo song that asked the age-old musical question, "Are we not men?":

The film stirred the interest of David Bowie, who along with Brian Eno, produced the first Devo album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!  

The group's second album includes this bit of madness. I wonder whether Spud Boy ever found his "real tomato":


The only time I got to see Devo was at the 1996 Lollapalooza in Chandler, Ariz. Devo was great, but many of the macho mosh-pit metal heads, didn't appreciate them. This came following an awful Arizona dust storm that caused The Ramones to cut their set short and postponed the rest of the show for a couple of hours. 

Between that and the regular July heat, anger was rising But Mothersbaugh and crew seemed to feed off the foul energy. Following Devo's set, Soundgarden came on, with singer Chris Cornell (RIP) scolding the dumbfucks who's booed such a great band.  (A not-very good-quality video of Devo's entire set is up on Youtube. Nearly gave me PTSD just watching it.)

Here's "Uncontrollable Urge" from another '96 Lollapalooza show:

Getting back to the show I saw, what really got the metalhead mob angry was when Mothersbaugh assumed his identity of Booji Boy. He ended that set with some confrontational humor, pulling what some said was bacon out of his diaper (and some assume was worse) and throwing it into the crowd. 

So to close this birthday tribute, here's Mothersbaugh as Booji Boy in a movie, Neil Young's Human Highway:

Happy birthday, Mark Mothersbaugh!

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