Lord Buckley Under The Influence

DAVID OSSMAN: Lord Buckley was the biggest and baddest hip-talking white man ever. Along with my local hero Hunter Hancock, who broadcast R 'n'B live from the window of a record store at 125th and Central Avenue in the early Fifties and international rap-master Wolfman Jack whose mellow screams radiated American Graffiti into the ether from Mexico, Buckley's groove was a sweet, potent high, delivered in a jive manner. All us white boys wanted to talk like Black Cats. Lord Buckley taught us how. He was a total gassssss ...

PETER BERGMAN: Well Lord Buckley had a real big influence on me. I played him a lot on the early Radio Fee Oz shows, from the early albums. I was always very influenced by his work and always considered him to be a real genius. He really played into that whole hipster thing, that I quite like. In fact, I was much more influenced by Lord Buckley, than I was by Lenny Bruce, for example. I was never a big follower of Lenny Bruce. I didn't take the time to get into him. I'm sure I would have probably loved him a lot. The little bit of the stuff I heard, I liked, but Buckley I really searched after. In fact, I had a rare tape of Buckley that someone had passed to me that I played on the Oz show, which got lost, a tape of Buckley riffing with some friends about being the Angel of Death going through a train crash. I don't know if it's ever been played or discovered but I used to play that and I had some of his other strange stuff. I met his daughter. She hosted Proctor and I for an evening when we were playing in Vegas, because she lived there. That was real nice. He was very much a very strong influence.

PHIL AUSTIN: Oh yeah. I mean it's hard to say but it's like saying does Bruegal have any influence on you. You don't remember specifically what. If someone asks you that about your work, you say, "Yeah sure." Number 1 you don't wanna be left out. Number 2, it must be true, it must have, because anyone that you love has got to be some kind of influence on your work, right? I guess. I just always loved him. It was that music thing. I was firmly convinced that the root of the kind of humor that I wanted to do, didn't have anything to do with Bob Newhart or theater or anything. It had something to do with music. In particular, it had something to do with jazz because that's where I first ran into it, 'cause of the guys my Dad played with back in Fresno.

The first time I ran into these kind of jokes, this kind of humor and all this kind of stuff. I just always associated it with jazz and who better to associate with jazz than Buckley.

So to me it was just like I was the audience. If there was an audience made for this guy, it was me. I never tried to do that kind of stuff particularly. In the late 80s I did a character called Twilight McSleep, who would show up on the radio late night who's sort of like Buckley. Come to think of it, a lot of the history of my radio show Hollywood Night Shift in the late 70s, we could have dedicated a lot of that to Lord Buckley. Because what we're getting at is that feeling of a kind of late 50s early 60s convertible top down California listening to the radio and being into Chet Baker records. It's a hipster thing for guys of my generation, and I'm 56 now. For guys of my generation, that was it. And things that were it, when you're at that age, stick with you your whole life. You know?

PHIL PROCTOR: Well I bought a car from Lord Buckley's son. He was one of the most mezmorizing car salesman I ever confronted. I bought a car for my first wife. He was right around the corner on Sunset Dr., selling exotic old cars. And his dad of course was an exotic old character.

Buckley did something amazing. He did a couple of things that I really admired, that blew me away when I was a kid. No. 1: He popularized the comic rhythms of sub-culture which was called primarily then, like, Jazz. OK? And he did it with such a loving sensitivity and such a joyful appreciation of the freedoms that the rhythms of that life-style created, with such a sensitivity to the comic potentials of the rhythms that Jazz and Jazz talk allowed, that he showed himself to be a real genius. He created a new comic vocabulary out of an existing underground form of communication and infused it with tremendous comedy.

And the other thing that was really wonderful that he did was that he delt with forbidden topics. You know? He made comedy from Jesus, the Naz, and he made comedy from the Marquis De Sade, so that he was fearlessly creating comedy. It was almost like 'I dare you' kind of comedy. And the fact that he did it in Jazz and poetry gave him a tremendous edge over any other comics who might want to touch those subjects. It was impossible for them to get anywhere near him in what they could do. So, I thought he was like a David slaying the Goliath of society when he was out there doing his stuff. I think that's why he had such tremendous popularity.

I never got to see him live, I only heard his records and at that time he was only like one of those party records. He was in the underground of comedy. He had the same kind of panche' that Lenny Bruce had and everything. He was much more zainily accessable and still is. He's not everybody's cup of tea. Some people just don't get it. Just don't get it. But for those of us who do, I'm so happy that his work lives on. Every once in awhile, I'll listen to him to just kind of plug in again to the tremendous power of his eccentric word play.