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Todd Bridges and the ‘Whatchu Talking ‘Bout Willis Experience’ cover the ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ theme
06.23.2017
12:52 pm
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The actor Todd Bridges, best known for the role of Willis Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes, which he inhabited between the ages of 13 through 21, has precisely one credit on Discogs, the exhaustive music recording resource that you’ve probably already consulted five times this week, if not many more times than that. It’s a fascinating one, and actually, his performance pretty much puts the question of why he doesn’t have more music credits in his CV to rest.

In 1997, in the middle of a big era for hastily assembled CD compilations, Which? Records put out an amusing comp called Show & Tell: A Stormy Remembrance of TV Theme Songs, which exploited the marketable idea of having a bunch of punk and thrash bands do covers of famous TV theme songs. The Meatmen contributed two tracks, “Green Acres” and “Mission: Impossible,” Murphy’s Law did the theme to “Zoom” (with DM’s own Howie Pyro on backing vocals), and the Dickies recorded a cover of “Secret Agent Man.” It’s fun stuff—really, how could it go wrong?

The attention-getting bit of business—enough to merit special mention on the album cover, done up to vaguely resemble a copy of TV Guide—was Todd Bridges singing lead vocal on a thrashy cover of the theme song from the show he will never not be associated with. The full credit runs Todd Bridges and the Whatchu Talking ‘Bout Willis Experience cover “Diff’rent Strokes”—the familiar, perky ditty that was co-written by none other than Alan Thicke. 
 

 
Not surprisingly, there was no such thing as the Whatchu Talking ‘Bout Willis Experience, other than that record. The bassist, John Jesse, and the guitarist, Roy Mayorga, at that time were members of a band called Thorn but were rather better known for their work in the influential crust punk band Nausea. Weirdly, Mayorga is credited as playing guitar on this song but is really a drummer.

The rendition lasts a cool 50 seconds, and Bridges….... well, let’s just say holding a tune is not a big part of Bridges’ skill set.

The October 1998 issue of Vibe featured a Q&A with Gary Coleman, Bridges’ diminutive co-star on the TV show, and writer Peter Relic asked Coleman about Bridges’ recent turn as a singer:
 

Vibe: Have you been to a gig of Todd Bridges’ punk band, the Whatchu Talking ‘Bout Willis Experience?

Coleman: You’re kidding! Todd didn’t tell me about that.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.23.2017
12:52 pm
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When satanic serial killer Richard Ramirez terrorized Willis from ‘Diff’rent Strokes’
09.21.2015
09:24 am
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In 1988 a crack-addicted Todd Bridges, the child-actor who played “Willis” on TV’s Diff’rent Strokes, was jailed for attempted murder in the shooting of LA drug dealer Kenneth “Tex” Clay.

In prison, Bridges was housed on murderers’ row. One of his neighbors was the infamous “Night Stalker” killer, Richard Ramirez, the satanic serial-murderer of at least thirteen people.

Bridges writes in his autobiography, Killing Willis: From Diff’rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted, that Ramirez would often attempt to intimidate him:

Richard Ramirez was a strange cat. The thing that was interesting about being in jail with him was that he had killed somebody in Northridge during the time I was living there, and I remember how scared we were after the murder. We made sure all of our windows were locked at all times, and we walked people to their cars with guns. My life had actually been touched by his crimes.

I never found it hard to believe that he had done all the terrible things they accused him of- raping and torturing little old ladies and carving pentagrams into their skin. First of all, he was a devil worshipper. That’s heavy. And then he never seemed sorry about killing all those people. That was who he really was.

He used to come by my cell and shake my door really hard. He always tried to freak me out by doing things like putting the devil sign against the bars. ‘I’m going to come in and get you,’ he said.

I remember the day he found out he was going to get the gas chamber, he came back to our cellblock, and he had this real somber look on his face. He looked different, but I knew that inside he was the same monster he’d always been… “Get ready,” I said and I puffed my cheeks out real big like I was holding my breath. “How long can you hold your breath? You’re done.”

We’d like to think Ramirez’s response was a steely, soft-spoken, “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”
 

 
Bridges, represented by famed defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, was eventually released and acquitted of all charges when a witness testified that he was not present at the time of the shooting. Upon release, Bridges went back to selling and using crack until eventually successfully completeing rehab.
 

 
Ramirez died of complications from B-cell lymphoma in 2013 before making it to the gas chamber.

Via Moviepilot

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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09.21.2015
09:24 am
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