Spoken word, Musical Artist
1963 – 2003
Who was Wesley Willis?
Wesley Willis was an American singer-songwriter and visual artist from Chicago. Diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia in 1989, Willis began a career as an underground singer-songwriter in the outsider music tradition, with songs featuring his bizarre, humorous and often obscene lyrics sung over the auto accompaniment feature on his Technics KN electronic keyboard.
Willis gained an enormous cult following in the 1990s, mainly upon the release of Greatest Hits in 1995 on the Alternative Tentacles label. The album was released at the urging of punk rock pioneer Jello Biafra who compiled its tracklist. In addition to a large body of solo musical work, Willis fronted his own punk rock band, the Wesley Willis Fiasco. He was also a visual artist long before his forays into music, producing hundreds of intricate, unusual, colored ink-pen drawings, most of them of Chicago streetscapes and CTA buses.
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