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RIP: Mikey Wild, Mayor Of South Street, Is Dead

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Sad news. After a years-long battle with lung cancer, Mikey passed away this morning. A celebration of his music and art will be held at Pageant Soloveev on June 18th.

PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: Some people are scared to talk to Mikey Wild. Maybe it’s because he’s a living, breathing South Philly legend. Or maybe it’s because he can be an ornery guy who threatens to burn you with his lighter if he takes a dislike to you. But some awe is in order, as Wild is the crazy dean of the South Philadelphia punk scene, making his living as a local performer and artist for more than 30 years. You can hear Wild’s honest bawl on area dive-bar jukeboxes, singing classics like “I Hate New York,” and “Chicks With Dicks”—great songs with a swingy grind offsetting Wild’s “Sid Vicious via South Street” vocals. His anthem, “I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk, Punk” refers to Wild’s unchallenged status as the very first punk rocker in Philadelphia, as frontman for the Hard Ons and the Magic Lanterns, and opening act for punk provokers like Lou Reed and GG Allin on their stops in our fair city in the ’70s. Wild famously upstaged Allin, exposing himself during a rendition of “Chicks With Dicks,” although he’d prefer “not to go into that” these days. “I do scary psychedelic music now,” Wild says, discussing his new horror-themed solo performances that seem ripped from a ’60s chiller flick. “The lyrics are real scary. I do a song called ‘Zombies in the Basement.’ And another one called ‘Don’t Go in the Cellar.’ I used to come out of a coffin onstage, but I don’t do that anymore.” MORE

CITY PAPER: My first Mikey Wild experience was in the summer of 1992 when I was a brand new employee of Tower Records on South Street. They put me in the basement that day, the place to haze the new clerks and punish the bad ones. During my first day of answering questions that begin with “y’all got” and “youse have,” a strange little man in a biker jacket and a John Lennon shirt walked up to the counter and garbled something. People had been garbling at me all day, so I think I said something like, “Huh? What? I’m sorry, I think we’re out of that.” I was about to hide underneath the counter to study the different sizes of shopping bags, when one of my co-workers came to the rescue. Since he had spider webs tattooed on his elbows, nothing fazed him. “Heey Mikey,” he said and in a rare display of customer service, escorted him over to the Beatles tapes. Little did I know that I had just dissed the Mayor of South Street. Leader of the Magic Lanterns and local legend of sorts Wild penned punk classics like “Vincent Price Wasn’t Very Nice” and “Chicks With Dicks.” He’s also the author of two books and now the subject of a documentary, Mikey Wild: I Was Punk Rock Before You Were. Whether you love him, hate him, or just misunderstand him, the phenomenon of Mikey Wild is pretty fascinating. He’s the id of the music scene, saying and doing whatever he wants, much to everyone’s entertainment and/or dismay. As a person with limited mental capabilities, the world is against him so he creates a world of his own. MORE

RELATED: The Real Mikey Wild

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