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‘Nick Danger’ RIP: Firesign Theatre’s Phil Austin, 1941-2015
12:42 pm


Firesign Theatre
Phillip Austin

Oh man. Some very bad, very sad news just crossed my desk in the form of this short email from Taylor Jessen, archivist extraordinaire, of the Firesign Theatre:

I’m very sorry to report that Phil Austin died last night at his home in Fox Island, Washington. Phil had been suffering from multiple cancers and had chosen to keep his condition private, so this was a sad and terrible surprise for us all. At his request, no memorial service is being planned.

Born in Denver, Colorado in 1941, but raised in Fresno, CA, Phil Austin went to Bowdoin College and then UCLA, before joining the staff of KPFK radio in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. It was at KPFK’s North Hollywood studio where he met his future partners in “the Beatles of comedy,” David Ossman and Peter Bergman, and later Phil Proctor, who’d been a friend of Bergman’s at Yale. Together as the Firesign Theatre (each of the troupe was an astrological “fire” sign), they recorded around thirty albums, including their Library of Congress recognized masterpiece, Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, and other classics like Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, Everything You Know is Wrong and I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus. He is survived by his lovely wife Oona and their menagerie of pets.

Below, Phil Austin stars as “Happy” Harry Cox, a trailer-dwelling New Agey conspiracy theorist that Art Bell seems to have based his entire career on in the Firesign Theatre short Everything You Know is Wrong (This will be on the upcoming Firesign Theatre DVD in much better quality. Keep checking their website for the release date.)

Continues after the jump…

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Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and cheap old Republic serials: the loopy brilliance of ‘J-Men Forever’!

In 1979, a few years after the diaspora of the surrealistic stream-of-consciousness comedy troupe Firesign Theatre, that outfit’s Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman created J-Men Forever, a pastiche film a la What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, from old crime and superhero shorts. They combined footage from several different serials and dubbed in their own dialogue to create a ridiculous plot about evil forces (“The Lightning Bug,” represented by several serial characters including the Crimson Ghost, whose face famously served as the Misfits’ logo) trying to take over the world with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, while the forces of good (“The Caped Madman,” a Captain Marvel figure whose transformation word is SH’BOOM—Sneaky, Hateful, Bigoted, Obnoxious, Obnoxious, and Mean, and yes, I know “obnoxious” is in there twice) fought back with elevator music. It rambles, it barely coheres, and it’s funny as all hell. Given its eminent stoner-friendliness, you’d think it’d have been a natural midnight movie, but it gained its life and audience when the USA Network’s treasure-filled insmoniac’s pal Night Flight played it in its entirety and harvested clips from it to use as interstitials.


In his 15 Minutes With…Forty Years of Interviews, film historian and radio host G. Michael Dobbs spoke with Proctor about the film.

Proctor recounted that producer Patrick Curtis had established a relationship with Republic Studios when he had produced an homage film to B westerns, another genre that Republic had produced.

“We thought it would be fun to do the serials,” Proctor said.

He and Bergman watched the serials and then wrote the new screenplay. They also supervised the new soundtracks, performing some of the voices themselves and casting other performers such as deejay Machine Gun Kelly.

An influx of funding allowed the pair to shoot new wrap-around footage featuring them as federal agents coordinating the fight against the Lightning Bug.

The reception the film received was so impressive that it inspired two spin-offs, a Cinemax special The Mad House of Dr. Fear and Hot Shorts for RCA Home Video, which used other members of the Firesign Theatre.

After Night Flight ended its run, the film was relegated to cinematic limbo.

“For years I tried to get it out,” said Proctor, “but we couldn’t find a good print. It was more important to have it look right. Then [Night Flight producer] Stuart Shapiro came up with a print.”


Previously on Dangerous Minds
Farewell, dear friend: Peter Bergman 1939-2012
More sugar: Firesign Theatre’s ‘High School Madness’ visualized

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‘My World Fell Down’: The oddest song The Beach Boys never recorded

Yesterday I was listening to a Glen Campbell greatest hits collection (The Capitol Years 1965-77, the one compiled by Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, it’s excellent) and in the liner notes, it mentions that Campbell sang and played guitar on a Gary Usher-produced single called “My World Fell Down” by Sagittarius, that was included on Jac Holzman and Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets collection, which I have, so I checked it out. It’s odd that I had this song in my possession—I’ve played the Nuggets box set many, many times all the way through—but never took much note. How could I have missed it?

A be-quiffed Glen Campbell backstage at the Grammy awards with the Beach Boys
“My World Fell Down” is the closest thing we’ll ever get to “Good Vibrations”-era Beach Boys meets LSD-soaked psych rock. Sagittarius was basically a supergroup of session musicians under the direction of Gary Usher, a staff producer at Columbia who had also “discovered” The Firesign Theatre and produced The Byrds. Aside from Campbell, who was, of course, briefly in the Beach Boys himself, the secondary vocalist on the track is none other than Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. Also worth pointing out is that Usher had written several songs with Brian Wilson (”409” and “In My Room” among them) and included in the backing group were powerhouse session players Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye, who had both recorded with the Beach Boys. If someone played this for you and told you it was an unreleased—and especially odd—Beach Boys demo, you’d believe them, no problem.

Gary Usher
Dig the musique concrète bridge section of carnival (bullfight?) noises and a slamming door. This part sounds like something straight off of Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Rolling Stones album that came out the same year, 1967, but is not included in the album version.

When “My World Fell Down” got to #70 on the Billboard chart, the label wanted Sagittarius to tour, at which point he revealed that Sagittarius didn’t actually exist as a real group and that it was his song, too. Usher moved forward with Sagittarius and recorded a full album leaning heavily on the talents of a young Curt Boettcher. Prior to the release of that record, Present Tense, in 1968, Usher and co. released a second Sagittarius single titled “Hotel Indiscreet” that had another musique concrète bridge section that utilized Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theatre ranting about… something:

“What for and how long my children? How long will we be made to suffer the utter degradation of everything we hold sacred? My fellow flowers, the time is upon us to open the door and purify the foul and pestilent air within, standing naked before the eternal judge and proclaiming we are all hip! Two three four… Hip! Two three four… zwei drei vier… Sieg Heil! SIEG HEIL!”

That bit was only on the mono version of the song, on the single. Clive Davis didn’t like the weirdo breaks in “My World Fell Down” and “Hotel Indiscreet” so he had Usher cut them out for Present Tense.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘What you don’t mean won’t hurt you!’: Marching to Shibboleth with The Firesign Theatre
02:39 pm


Firesign Theatre

Attention Firesign Theatre fanatics, two long out of print books transcribing their surrealist comedy classics, have just been republished. It’s fascinating to see their work in the form of plays. We think of Firesign Theatre as writer/performers, but this puts them in a literary context as well.

I asked their longtime archivist and producer, my pal Taylor Jessen (who promised me he was going to make a Firesign Theatre documentary in 2014) to fill us in:

The Firesign Theatre is one of the greatest Shibboleth manufacturers in history. Fans who’ve heard their 1970 masterwork Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers are aware that we’re all marching to Shibboleth – a Shibboleth being, of course, the original Hip password.

No one in the late sixties crossed the Jordan into Hip society without knowing the good word of Firesign: “Shoes for Industry!” “He’s no fun, he fell right over!” “What you don’t mean won’t hurt you!” “He broke the President!” In short, if a stranger came up to you in 1970 and said “No anchovies? You’ve got the wrong man!”, and you didn’t know the next line, man, forget it.

Rolling Stone’s Straight Arrow imprint published all those lines in 1972 and 1974 in the form of the script collections Big Book of Plays and Big Mystery Joke Book. Out of print for more than three decades, they now return in a new one-volume collection, Marching to Shibboleth, available exclusively from the FireSale store. 354 pages; all the words and art from the original books; all the text re-proofed and re-set to match the design and fonts of the original layout; the photos re-scanned from original source material. It’s Firesign’s classic Columbia period totally transcribed – Waiting for The Electrician or Someone Like Him, How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All, Dwarf, I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus and The Giant Rat of Sumatra, plus vignettes, miniatures, a 400-year Fyre Sygne historical exegesis with a lot of really impressive footnotes that you should therefore TOTALLY BELIEVE, plus for the first time the complete script to Everything You Know Is Wrong. All this as well as a new introductory essay by Greil Marcus.

Guaranteed to look great on any comedy lover’s shelf next to Monty Python’s Flying Circus: All the Words and The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts.

Get your copy of Marching to Shibboleth, available exclusively from the FireSale store

Below, eight minutes of The Firesign Theatre’s “High School Madness” cut to the corny Henry Aldrich movies they were riffing on in the first place, via filmmaker Andre Perkowski:

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More Sugar: Firesign Theatre’s ‘High School Madness’ visualized
12:22 pm


Firesign Theatre

Firesign Theatre fans will be delighted by this. I certainly was!

Video by Andre Perkowski who writes:

In this excerpt from that most paranoid of Paranoid Pictures, “High School Madness,” lovable Peorgie and Mudhead find themselves in a heapin’ pile of trouble at Morse Science High.

Eight minutes of The Firesign Theatre’s “High School Madness” set to the Henry Aldrich films they were riffing on. Don’t crush that dwarf, hand me the cut-ups!


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Farewell, Dear Friend: Peter Bergman (1939-2012)
02:19 pm


Firesign Theatre
Peter Bergman

Dear Friends,

It is with a very heavy heart that I post this.

One of my very first heroes in life when I was a kid—and one of my dearest and most valued friends as an adult—Peter Bergman of the legendary Firesign Theatre, died this morning of complications from leukemia. He was 72.

The last time I talked to Peter was a few weeks ago. I’d picked up the Albert Ayler Holy Ghost box set, and there, on one of the live discs recorded in Cleveland in 1966, was Peter introducing the band! I called him up that morning and he excitedly told me about that event and we laughed a lot and I told him that he just HAD to write his autobiography.

“Pete, you’re the ‘Zelig’ of the rock era! You’ve been in a film with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Farrah Fawcett. You coined the terms “love-in.” You smoked a joint with Bob Marley and the Wailers when they were your opening act [True, the Wailers opened for Proctor and Bergman in Boston. Pete told me the joint was “arm-sized”!]. You guys gigged with the Buffalo Springfield. You’ve worked with Spike Milligan, and now here you are with Albert Ayler, for god’s sake! I mean, come on! You have to do this!”

Peter seemed to like the idea of writing an autobiography (a lot) and we talked about electronic publishing and Kindles and stuff like that. I had heard just a few days before, from my best friend, Michael Backes, that Peter was sick, but Mike said he played it off very cavalierly, like “Hey, if you’re going to get leukemia, this is the best kind of leukemia to get!” (meaning the most easily treated and managed with medicine).

I waited for the topic to come up on the phone that day. It didn’t, but just as I was about to broach it, Peter got another call and hopped off the line. It was the last time I spoke to him.

This morning I got a call from my wife, Tara, as I was standing in line with 4000 other people waiting to pick up my press credentials for the SXSW Festival. It’s a rainy, shitty day here in Austin, TX and with that call it got a whole lot worse:

“Honey, I’ve got some bad news for you. Some really bad news. Peter died last night. Taylor Jessen just sent you an email, but I didn’t think you’d heard.”

I stood in a room full of 4000 strangers and and quietly cried to myself, wondering how the rest of the Firesign were handling the awful news.

I’d lost a good friend, but they’d lost their brother.

From the Firesign Theater website:

Peter Bergman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the day after Russia invaded Finland and the day before Winston Churchill (Peter’s hero) turned 65. Peter’s comic career began in the sixth grade, writing comic poems with his mother for library class - a penchant that developed into co-authoring the ninth grade humor column “The High Hatters,” and his own creation “Look and See With Peter B.” for his high school newspaper.

Peter’s audio career was launched in high school as an announcer oh the school radio system, from which he was banished after his unauthorized announcement that the Chinese communists had taken over the school and that a “mandatory voluntary assembly was to take place immediately.” Russell Rupp, the school primciple, promptly relieved Peter of his announcing gig. Rupp was the inspiration for the Principle Poop character on “Don’t Crush That Dwarf”.

While attending high school, Peter formed his first recording group called “The Four Candidates,” turning out a comedy cut-up single titled “Attention Convention,” parodying the 1956 democratic convention. Released on Buddy records, it received air play in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

At college, Peter was managing editor of the Yale comedy magazine. He wrote the lyrics for two musical collaborations with Austin Pendleton, both of which starred Phil Proctor. He graduated as a scholar of the house in economics, and played point guard for the liberal basketball league whose members have since lost their dribble but not their politics.

Peter spent two graduate years at Yale as a Carnegie teaching fellow in economics, and as the Eugene O’Neill playwriting fellow at the drama school. After a six-month stint as a grunt in the U.S. Army’s 349th general hospital unit, he went to Berlin on a Ford foundation fellowship where he joined Tom Stoppard, Derek Marlow and Piers Paul Read at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. There he wrote and directed his first film, “Flowers,” and connected with the Living Theatre - a major influence on his art.

Peter worked briefly in London with Spike Milligan and the BBC before returning to America in 1966. Back in the U.S., he secured a nightly radio show on Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles: “Radio Free Oz,” around which the Firesign Theatre coalesced and gestated.

Peter coined the term “Love-In” in 1967, and threw the first such event in April of that same year in Los Angeles. That event ultimately drew a crowd of some 65,000 people, blocking freeways for miles. This so impressed Gary Usher, a Columbia Records staff producer, that he offered the Firesign Theatre their first record contract.

In the 1970’s, Peter diversified his comic career as the president of a film equipment company. He also helped produce a machine for viewing angio cardiograms and measuring the blockage of the arteries of the heart.

In the 80’s Peter turned to film and tape, producing the comic feature “J-Men Forever” with Phil Proctor, as well as producing television shows that featured various members of Firesign.

Starting in 1995, Peter began touring the country as a “high tech comedian”, delivering lectures and keynote speeches to computer oriented companies and conventions. He worked on publishing the web site for one of the candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles.

His latest venture, in association with David Ossman, started in the summer of 2010: the podcast revival of Radio Free OZ.

I called Mike to commiserate and he said something that was true for me, too, and I’lll end with his words: “I don’t think there is ANYTHING that defines who I was in high school more than being that kid listening to Firesign Theatre on headphones stoned out of my gourd. I think the way I think because of the Firesign Theatre. I phrase things the way I do because of the Firesign Theatre. I look at the world the way I do because of them. There might not be anything that had a bigger formative influence on who I am today when I really think about it!”

Losing Peter Bergman is a great personal loss. Farewell, my dear friend, farewell. And to the rest of the Firesign Theatre, know that I am feeling the same things that you are today.

Below, the Firesign Theatre’s anarchic 1969 TV ads for a local Los Angeles car dealer, Jack Poet Volkswagen.

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Debit! Debit! Debit! Said the Chinese Machine Gun: New Firesign Theatre shows!

I just found out, by way of the brand new issue of Phil Proctor’s always wonderful Planet Proctor e-zine, that all four members of the Firesign Theatre recently got together in the studio in Washington State to record some podcasts for Peter Bergman’s Radio Free Oz. I haven’t listened yet myself, but intend to partake immediately upon posting this and smoking an incredibly massive joint…

Surreal wordplay, witty banter and liberal kvetching with Proctor, Bergman, Philip Austin and David Ossman, together in one room again! Listen to “The Firesign Theatre’s new recordings “Talking Over Each Other” at Radio Free Oz and subscribe to Planet Proctor here (you’ll get it in your email as a PDF)

Firesign Live! Portland Center For The Arts, Winningstad Theatre in Portland, Oregon. Get tickets here for the shows on December 9 & 10!

The Firesign Theater in Debit! Debit! Debit! Said the Chinese Machine Gun

The Firesign Theater in Faster than the Speed of Light

And here’s today’s installment of Radio Free Oz:
We’ll Occupy The Streets, We’ll Occupy the Courts

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Watch Neil Hamburger & Firesign Theatre streaming LIVE from the Everything Is Festival!

If you couldn’t make it to Los Angeles this holiday weekend for the INSANE five-day long Everything Is Festival! taking place at Cinefamily, fret not because you can watch today’s festivities live beginning at 2:30 PST.

At 2:30, America’s funnyman Neil Hamburger will be doing his special tribute to Dora Hall, the septuagenarian grandmother who turned entertainer with TV specials and record albums paid for by her rich husband, who owned the Solo cup company. Not to be missed!

Then at 4:30, there will be a special Firesign Theatre mini-film festival with Peter Bergman and Phil Proctor of the Firesign Theatre, in attendance. Films include the only film visual record of one of their legendary radio shows, Martian Space Party and a new 5.1 surround version of Everything You Know is Wrong.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Martian Space Party: Firesign Theatre mini-film festival

On Sunday as part of the grand experiment in entertainment excess that is the five-day long Everything Is Festival! held at Cinefamily here in Los Angeles, there will be a Firesign Theatre mini-film festival starting at 4:30p.m. (just after Neil Hamburger’s Dora Hall tribute, which starts at 2:30).

The event will feature two Firesign Theatre shorts that have not been shown theatrically in many, many years (probably not since the mid-70s, in fact) and that are not currently available on home video (yet), plus other previously unseen goodies and rarities.

First up will be the only cinematic documentation of their legendary free-form radio shows, Martian Space Party. The “Martian Space Party” show was the final program in the “Let’s Eat” radio series of 1972 and was staged for cameras and a small audience.

Everything You Know is Wrong, which is a lip-sync’d visual interpretation of their 1975 album of the same name, will be premiering in a new 5.1 surround sound presentation, prepared from a digital dupe of the film supervised by famed cinematographer Allen Daviau (E.T. Bugsy, The Color Purple).

Plus some other SUPER SECRET Firesign Theatre films and videos and a live Q&A with Peter Bergman and Phil Proctor of the Firesign Theatre, EYKIW director Allen Daviau and Firesign Theatre archivist Taylor Jessen, author of the new book and DVD-ROM Duke of Madness Motors. Yours truly will be asking the questions.

Below, the trailer, which is already in progress…

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Firesign Theatre: Duke of Madness Motors

Peter Bergman and Firesign Theatre producer and archivist, Taylor Jessen, discuss the newly released box set of Firesign Theatre radio shows (1970-72), Duke of Madness Motors, featuring over 80 hours of MP3 audio on a DVD-ROM and a 108 page full-color book! Order your copy of Duke of Madness Motors today, because there are only 200 copies left and it’s unlikely to ever be reprinted.

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Duke of Madness Motors: New Firesign Theatre book with over 80 hours of radio shows!
08:11 am


Firesign Theatre
Taylor Jessen

Dear Friends,

You may or may not be aware that there is a brand new Firesign Theatre book and DVD-ROM with over 80 hours of audio material comprising ALL of their staggeringly genius radio shows from 1970 to 1972.

Well there is, and it’s called Duke of Madness Motors, the result of an over ten-year-long labor of love—indeed an odyssey of careful detective work—by their longtime archivist, and my pal, the grand and groovy Mister Taylor Jessen. The story is told of young Taylor locating a fan with a copy of one show he had not been able to track down otherwise. The problem was, the tape was in a shed that had fallen victim to a Malibu mudslide. For an entire day, Taylor tried to find the tape to no avail. So what did he do next? He returned the following week and and he DID locate the tape. That’s dedication! That’s school spirit!

It even has a blurb on the back from little old me: “This is comparable to being a James Joyce fanatic and finding not just one notebook where he’s working out the themes that would become fully developed in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, but an entire crate of ‘em. Some of the most mind-bending, thought-provoking and hilarious material of their career. A counter cultural treasure of the highest order.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself…

Here’s how Firesign Theatre put it on their website:

It’s been such a long exposition, you know. Countless hours spent poring through the personal archives of Firesign group members and devoted fans alike. Fragile, aging reel-to-reel tapes handled with great care and transferred to digital media for restoration. Information and images gathered, processed and refined. Interviews conducted, transcribed and edited. The whole enchilada cubed, reheated, inspected, injected, detected, filtered, digitized, edited and assembled to perfection.

Yes, thanks to the tireless efforts of official Firesign archivist Taylor Jessen, we are proud to present, for the first time anywhere, the complete, mammoth, authoritatively definitive and totally awesome Duke of Madness Motors: The Complete “Dear Friends” Radio Era 1970-1972 book and DVD-ROM combo pack.

The DVD-ROM disc contains high-resolution MP3 audio files of every Firesign radio broadcast from their three series’ of the early 1970’s:
The Firesign Theatre Radio Hour Hour (24 episodes);
Dear Friends (21 episodes); and
Let’s Eat (12 episodes)

...ending with their big final blockbuster, Martian Space Party. A total of 58 shows in all, 80 hours of audio, on a single DVD-ROM disc. Each broadcast is completely restored and remastered for your protection. There’s also the syndicated versions of the Dear Friends and Let’s Eat episodes, and a handful of additional goodies and surprises from the vaults.

The full color 108-page 7"x10” book contains:

Complete rundowns of every broadcast;
A lengthy and thorough historical/hysterical essay on the troupe;
New intereviews with each Firesign group member;
Interviews with long-time Firesign associates, producer Bill McIntyre and engineer The Live Earl Jive;
Collages by Phil Proctor;
Vintage found objects, original scripts and more.

This is indeed the cultural landslide of a lifetime, more pure unadulterated Firesign than has ever been available in a single package. You’ll revel in the lightning-fast word play, bon mots, sparkling repartee, inside jokes, jokey insights, non-sequitors, surreal flights of fancy, bizarre sound effects, social studies, poetic justice, and downright jaw dropping serendipitous synchronicity that this landmark institution of comedy managed to pull off from out of left field in a mere two-year period. Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to own and experience this cornucopia of creamy Firesign goodness.

Here is the thing: Duke of Madness Motors has been published in a STRICTLY limited edition and when it’s sold out, it’s GONE for good (or will command top dollar on eBay). Snooze and you shall lose, in other words. My guess is that within a matter of weeks the entire run of this set will be gone. Order your copy of Duke of Madness Motors today! (My own copy should arrive this afternoon. I can assure you that I’ll be watching for the postman like a hawk!)

Here is Firesign’s Phil Proctor holding his copy of Duke of Madness Motors.

Below, my interview with Phil Proctor last summer when some of these shows were airing on WFMU.

More Firesign Theatre on Dangerous Minds


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Firesign Theatre performing live this weekend in Los Angeles!
12:33 pm

Pop Culture

Firesign Theatre

Dear Friends, just a reminder that the legendary comedy troupe, Firesign Theatre will be performing at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Los Angeles this weekend, doing their classic album I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus (my personal favorite) in its entirety.

Get tickets for Friday here and for the Saturday night performance, here.

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And speaking of Bozos on buses: The Firesign Theatre return to Los Angeles this month!
06:50 am

Pop Culture

Firesign Theatre

It’s a time of the year even better than Christmas in the Metzger household, as my comedic heros, the legendary Firesign Theatre will once again be playing a three-day residency in Los Angeles, Oct 21,22,23, at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater and performing my personal favorite album of theirs, I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus, in its entirety. YES!

Later this week, on October 8, the “4 or 5 crazy guys” will be performing at the Marin Center Showcase Theater, San Rafael, CA and Oct 9, at the Golden State Theatre in Monterey, CA. Don’t miss them if you are in the area(s)!!!

Get tickets at Firesign

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Afghanistan Yes We Can’t

Thank you Peter Bergman/Radio Free

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Rock or Roll Memory Bank or Firesign Theatre is Playing at My House
09:43 pm


Firesign Theatre

Dangerous Minds pal Taylor Jessen, the fabulously meticulous archivist for the Firesign Theatre is in the process of putting together the ULTIMATE collection of rare Firesign Theatre radio shows for a limited edition release via I’ve been raving about these programs (all recorded between 1968-72) on this blog for months and now you can hear them yourself, every Tuesday on WFMU radio at 7:00 pm in the New York area over the airwaves and streaming over the Internet on

Below Taylor writes of what it was like trying to track down the audio cues used by the FST in an online essay on WFMU’s popular blog, with 30 mp3 files and a contest to win Firesign Theatre photographs signed by all four members:

For ten years or so, the Firesign Theatre has been engaging me in a friendly round of “Stump the Archivist.”

Between 1970-1972, Firesign did about seventy hours of original radio broadcasts. The shows were mostly an excuse for them to riff, but they also played a lot of music breaks, sound effects, incidental music, and total dada noise foofaraw. During those original broadcasts of The Firesign Theatre Radio Hour Hour, Dear Friends, and Let’s Eat, they put the needle on the record about 1000 times, and one of the most fun aspects of restoring all those airchecks (soon to be reissued, yes the whole schmear, in remastered digital audio with an accompanying 108-page comic-book-size color fan guide featuring complete show rundowns, an historical essay, new interviews with the 4or5 guys and their engineer & producer, never-published photos, collages, found objects, scripts, and good God make it stop, it’s just too awesome. Please check regularly here and at for an official announcement; we’re only making 500 copies and they’ll never be sold in stores) – one of the most fun aspects, I say, of all this obsessive archival work was identifying those 1000 needle-drops.

To play along and try to identify these music cues—-some are easy: Beatles, Stones, Dylan, but others are pretty darn obscure—visit Firesign Theatre is Playing At My House (WFMU’s Beware of the Blog). You only have to be able to identify ONE of the musical mysteries to win!

Below, my recent interview with the Phil Proctor about the vintage Firesign Theatre radio shows being aired on WFMU:

Firesign Theatre on Dangerous Minds

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