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Wesley at Nyabinghi - Youngstown, OH on 05/06/03

Wesley wasn't someone I wanted to be friends with- , his songs seemed juvenile and offensive (though I was admittedly charmed by the songs he sung about the things he loved and his friends), he had a reputation for delivering headbutts and I couldn't understand my friends' interest in him.

Then last summer Chris and Kim, his sometimes caretakers, friends and documentarians brought him over and he spent an afternoon in my backyard. He played his keyboard and sang dirty songs so loud I was afraid my neighbors could hear until I bribed him with a snow cone. He threw his head back and laughed with abandon and joy. He headbutted me gently and made me say, "Ra".

That afternoon I came to see him the way my friends Chris and Kim did- as someone who was driven by his need to constantly make music and create, who was mischevious, funny, good hearted and misunderstood.
Michelle M. Baldwin


to biafra, uli, and the entire staff,
it is really fucked up to know that a person with so much talent and joy for living can be taken away that quickly. i send my deepest condolences to everyone who worked with, knew, and loved wesley. he will be missed. headbutt the sky, wes. rock and roll mcdonalds.
brandon cruz


[to jello:]
i had prepared a letter for wesley this past week to go out with the cable bill but now i'll just be saving it as yet another reminder of just how quickly it all really goes.

i felt a kinship with wesley from the moment i read his bio at AT as i too am a casualty of more than one shoddy mental health system and have finally found an outlet for my art through alternative tentacles records.

i'm not schizophrenic but have been diagnosed and undiagnosed as such in the past and know that whole crew like the swirls on my thumb.

i'm absolutely sorry for your loss and want you to rest assured that wesley's music will live on, at the very least, through my little pseudo-radio station. the fact that you signed him at all just verifies every good feeling i ever had about you, jello. wish i knew both of you personally but am happy to be lucky enough to have heard him on doctor dimento as a little kid and you in golden gate park once during the womad festival. (i have to admit wesley looks awfully familiar and the whole casio keyboard-style repetoire rang a big brassy bell of san francisco deja vu so i may have actually met him face to face once on haight street.)

i can't afford a bus ticket to chicago but rest assured that i'm chuggin one down with a vengeance for wes as i type this letter and will be jammin his crazy little tunes full blast with my own for as long i'm still on the planet.

much love to you and all of alternative tentacles,


I am sooo terribly sorry. No wonder the site was messed up. This is a tragedy. All at our house enjoy Wesley's wacky, wonderful, witty song stylings, as well as his artwork. We wouldn't have come into contact with him without A.T. Thanks for sharing his work. Feel very guilty for not sending him a card in time. This is a helluva loss. Wesley was amazing.
Our condolences to his family, to Jello, and all at A.T.

Rock over the bAT cave,
Rock on, Wesley Willis!
Corryne, Kerry and Dylan Drake
Casper, Wyo.


sorry to hear about wesley.....he was a great songwriter....he will be missed....please send my condolences.....and the thing you wrote about him on your site was very informative and thanks for the updates......nobody else seems to care that we have lost such a great musical personality.
peace not war!
Bryan Lennon


He will be missed,
but his music will Rock on
Rock over London
Rock on Chicano

Pat Curley
Chicago, IL


This is really hitting me hard...I didn't know Wesley personally but I felt like if he knew me...he would like me, because of the way I feel when I listen to his music...When you listened to know everything was going to be OK...My Condolences to all of the AT Staff.


Very sad to hear about Wesley, my condolences
Take care
Joe Keithley DOA


Dear Alternative Tentacles Staff-
I'm writing to offer my condolences for the loss of your friend Wesley Willis. I am a journalist in Atlanta and a longtime fan of his music. I had the pleasure of meeting Wesley a twice, most recently in April when I covered his performance at The Earl in Atlanta. He was an amazing man I feel lucky to have met him and see him perform.

I have attached a photo of Wesley that I took shortly before he went on stage at The Earl in April. If you want to use it on your Web site or share it with his friends and family, feel free.

Andisheh Nouraee

Wesley at The Earl in April 2003


Not long ago, I recieved the news of Wesley's passing. He was an inspiration to me, I listened to him when the chips were down, and he picked me up. I believed in him, and without him I honestly have no clue where I would have wound up today. When I was in high school, everybody told me that "That guys just a fuckin retard"(which he was not) and I just couldn't stand that, he was a man with a disease, but more importantly he was a man. I front a one man band from time to time, and he was my major influence, in that the way he just let it all go so honestly, it was incredible. I just could not escape the genius of him, and I thank him for it, he will inspire me for the rest of my life I dare say,both in the way I live my life and my music.I thank you Wesley, you'll be sorely missed. Thank you for your time,and keep up the good work AT
- John Davis


[to Jello:] There were a couple of times when several months would go by and I'd lose touch with Wesley, but he always managed to find me. When he told me that Alternative Tentacles had hooked him up with a booking agent I was thrilled. I worried about Wesley a lot, mainly because I felt that if Randy and I hadn't been in the right place at the right time things might have taken a turn for the worst in Wesley's life. Knowing that there were other people out there looking out for him really helped put my mind at ease.

I was playing a going away gig in Iowa City in the summer of 2001 before moving to San Francisco and invited Wesley to come and join me. He agreed and arrived a couple of days later. We managed to sell out the club and Wes sold over 100 CDs. It was then that I realized that Wesley Willis had become more than just some joke in the music community. He had actualy managed to strike a chord with a very diverse crowd and they all seemed to love his music for very different reasons. I drove Wesley to the bus station the day after the show and saw him off. That was the last time I would ever see Wesley Willis.

I tried a number of times to get work off so I could visit him in the hospital when i found out he was sick last year, and a few months ago I was laid off from my job and have been financially stapped ever since so I was not able to travel to the midwest this summer. I deeply regret not being able to see Wesley before his passing, nor did I ever confirm that he recieved the letter I sent last June.

Sorry this ran so long, but I really just wanted to say thank you so much Mr. Biafra for everything you did for Wesley Willis. He always spoke very highly of you. He once told me that you were the nicest man he'd ever met. Thanks to you his music reached a national audience and created a stable foundation on which a man with the most unstable background could finally stand without the fear of falling through the cracks. I saw Wesley through a very tough time in his life and his courage through it all was very inspiring. I will miss him greatly.

Thank you again for caring. If there were more people like you and Wesley Willis we'd probably be living in a perfect world.

Dan Butler


Dear Mr. Biafra and Alternative Tentacles Family:
Although I usually send e-mail to Alternative Tentacles to criticize a liberal comment on the website (I am a reformed liberal), I am taking this opportunity to express my deepest sympathy to you at Alternative Tentacles Records, and all those who knew and loved Mr. Willis.

Although I did not know Mr. Willis, and only own one of his cds, I am still deeply saddened to hear of his passing. Cancer of any sort (whether it be leukemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, or one of the other seemingly endless varieties) is a very difficult thing with which to deal, for both the one afflicted as well as family and friends. My mother passed away ten years ago this past June 7 from breast cancer (this despite a negative mamogram reading less than one month prior to her diagnosis), and to this day remains the single most traumatic thing I have ever experienced. Virtually every other member of my family who has passed on has also swiveled off this mortal coil due to cancer.

Based upon what I have read about Mr. Willis, it is my loss not having met him; he has been described as a caring, thoughtful, and enigmatic individual, who--in spite of his afflictions--was able to bring joy to countless others. If this was, in fact, the way he lived his life, I have no doubt that he is experiencing an eternal reward far greater than what this life gives any and all of us. (I am not a profoundly religious person; however, I cannot bring myself to believe that there is not a God and an afterlife. But that is a debate for another time.)

Once again, I offer my condolences to everyone at Alternative Tentacles. I have said (and will continue to say) a prayer for the repose of the soul of Mr. Wesley Willis, that he may experience everlasting peace, joy, and happiness.


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