Fumio Miyashita was the leader of one of Japan’s most far out space rock units, The Far East Family Band, which also included the future new age composer, Kitaro. The Boffomundo Show was a Los Angeles public access television show focusing on prog rock in the late 70s and early 80s. Boffomundo producers Aaron Weiner and Ron Curtiss partnered with a well-connected guy named Tony Harrington of a label called All Ears Records to create The All Ears Boffomundo Show, which is how Fumio Miyashita came to appear on the show, twice, all of which is soon getting a release on vinyl by Drag City.
I asked Ron Curtiss a few questions via email:
First off, tell the readers about The Boffomundo Show.
Ron Curtiss: Aaron Weiner and I started The Boffomundo Show in 1979, which featured sit-down interviews with our progrock heroes. As cable television expanded, it mandated a “public access” broadcasting option allowing local subscribers to produce their own shows. Boffomundo roughly means “big world.” Watching the TV show, Happy Days, and hearing Fonzie say “correctomundo,” I replaced the “correcto” part with “boffo,” which refers to high grosses in show biz talk and voila! At a progressive music festival in Downtown LA we met a former A&R executive from Atlantic Records called Tony Harrington, who had traveled the world in the mid-70’s with King Crimson, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Genesis. He provided us with a brilliant litany of guests: Robert Fripp and John Wetton (King Crimson); Bernardo Lanzetti (PFM); Phil Collins and John Goodsall (Genesis and Brand X) and of course, Fumio Miyashita. The show continued after Tony, into the 80’s and 90’s, where we interviewed King Crimson’s Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford (Yes, Genesis, King Crimson) and fusion guitarists, Larry Coryell and Al Di Meola.
How did you come into contact with Fumio Miyashita and arrange for him to be on the show?
Ron Curtis: Tony Harrington had his own record label called All Ears Records. He had connections to progressive bands in Japan, including Fumio, whose Far East Family Band was already legendary. The award-winning synthesist, Kitaro, was a member and they had the honor of having Tangerine Dream’s Klaus Schulze provide production work on several of their albums. Tony brought Fumio to Los Angeles in 1978, where a new version of The Far East Family Band performed at the world famous Troubadour for two nights in March of that year. In 1979, Tony invited us to Fumio’s home, where we discussed a solo appearance on The Boffomundo Show. We had never tried live music before. The studio was the size of a small bedroom, but that didn’t stop us!
Anything notable that happened behind-the-scenes during the taping?
Ron Curtiss: Fumio showed up at Theta Cable Studios in Santa Monica, CA with many synthesizers, gongs, mixers and various percussion. Somehow the Theta Cable staff pumped all the sound through one small bookshelf speaker. The speaker sat on a wooden stool with a single microphone! The sound quality was very good considering nothing like this had never been done in that studio before. In 1980, Fumio with a guitarist and bass player, graced The Boffomundo Show a second time. Both performances are brilliantly captured on the new album.
How did the release of this come about?
Ron Curtiss: Last August I got a message on our Boffomundo Facebook page from Scott McGaughey at Drag City Records. It seems that he and Animal Collective member, Brian “Geo” Weitz were fans of the show and of Fumio in particular. They wanted to remaster the sound and edit together portions of both the 1979 and 1980 shows for vinyl. Vinyl is perfect. We are honored to have these shows memorialized and dedicate the record to the memories of Fumio Miyashita and Tony Harrington.
Will there be more like it?
Since we remastered the old shows and posted them on YouTube some years ago, we have close to a million hits. The old fans and new prog kids support us all around the world. The shows were not seen by a lot of folks at the time. They capture the end of the original progressive rock movement. The highlights are the fresh memories of these amazing musicians, avoiding the softening of opinions over many years. We offered the musicians a forum to tell their tales on TV, in an intelligent, uncommercial venue. A few years ago I was approached to do a book, Robert Fripp The Boffomundo Interview 1979 and now a record! We are humbled by the reaction to the old shows and always welcome original ideas to present them to an even wider audience.
Fumio Miyashita Live on the Boffomundo Show comes out on September 22 from Drag City. Pre-order it here.
An excerpt from Fumio Miyashita’s appearance on ‘The Boffomundo Show’