The Wizard Has Arrived – WRMB 373: The B. TOFF BAND ’21 Golden Greats’ + BILLY WIZARD

“Vicki Vinyl began her apprenticeship as a junior partner to one John Wizardo, whose releases were the only serious rivals to the Kornyfone family of labels. Though he did not adopt his moniker until the mid-Seventies [1975, I would say], Wizardo had been a fanatical collector of bootlegs from the outset, and it was whilst attending the Orange drive-in swap-meet, that he met Vicki Vinyl, then girl-friend of college kid Jim Washburn, who was immediately impressed by ‘his wizard-like appearance and aviator shades, not to mention the boxes of ultracool bootlegs he was selling.’ Wizardo was, in fact, just 16 years of age, but had already been turfed out of high school for publishing his own underground newspaper. Washburn stood by while Wizardo and Vicki began to develop their fledgling interest into a full blown business.

   Washburn: While other kids their age were joining the Junior Jaycees [“a leadership training and civic organization for people between the ages of 18 and 41. Areas of emphasis are business development, management skills, individual training, community service, and international connections.”], the pair made bootlegs, beginning with two Pink Floyd albums and a recording of The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. They titled one Floyd album after an old Jan & Dean record Take Linda Surfin’ while naming the other Miracle Muffler … [this would prove my theory stated in my Pink Floyd at Hamburg’s Musikhalle post that these albums were the first ever Wizardo releases] Their Beatles album was packed with extras, such as a mimeographed paper insert with hair drawn on it – advertised as a ‘free Beatles wig’ on the cover – and a press release declaring: “Wizardo Records discovered The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964. Knowing a good thing when we saw one, we took the liberty of releasing this record album. We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoy making money. [does anyone know which title this is? Does not seem to match any listed under Wizardo]”

Wizardo’s perverse humor and eclectic tastes were duly displayed by releases from […] Elvis Presley, Curved Air, Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Captain Beefheart, Roxy Music, Jan & Dean, Kiss and Rick Derringer, making the parameters of who could be bootlegged ever more elastic. However, The Beatles were Wizardo’s real love and the one area where he could compete with Ken in accessing material.” [Heylin in Bootleg: The Rise & Fall of the Secret Recording Industry, p. 88]

Larry Feign (born December 5, 1955), an American-born cartoonist and writer, is best known for his comic strip The World of Lily Wong. […] Later he co-created “Billy Wizard”, which began as a collaboration in high school with Jon Tschirgi, but he continued it alone throughout college. Billy Wizard was also the mascot of a bootleg vinyl record label, “Wizardo Rekords”. He and Tschirgi also formed a rock band which released one LP record in 1976 under the name The B. Toff Band, and a 45 rpm single in 1978 under the name Billy Wizard.” (from wikipedia)

B. Toff Band

I’ve been informed that Jon/John is actually on the left.

B.Toff Band 21 GG b

WRMB 373, released in 1976, not listed in Hot Wacks, as it is original music.

B. Toff 373-insert1-front

B. Toff 373-insert1-back

One track had been released before on a Wizardo Records bootleg: A year earlier they tried to “foole” Gentle Giant collectors by including their own “March of the Trolls” – see song # 5 on side 1 above – as a Gentle Giant studio outtake on WRMB 309 ‘Playing the Foole in Wonderland’.

Song # 11, “Honky Tonk Savior” is followed by a girl accusing Jon of being “really repulsive” … girl: “you make me sick!” – Jon: “why, doing what? What did I do wrong?” – “I don’t know, I just wanna go puke!” – “well, I’ll stop recording then…” – “yeah, that’ll be a good idea!”

One wonders how many were pressed … and how many were actually sold. The days when this LP sold for hundreds of $$$’s do seem to be over though. In April & May 2013, one copy has so far failed to sell in a number of successive eBay auctions where the minimum bid was lowered in steps of $25 until finally still not finding takers at $150.

***

Billy Wizard 45

The 45; a copy sold for $400 in November of 2012 and the seller had the following to say:

“Billy Wizard and the K-Mart Studio Orchestra recording of “Nazi Love” and the Monkees “Steppin’ Stone” (the first punkish recording of this soon to be punk staple), released in 1977 as Wizardo Bootleg Rekords SS-100.

Here’s the story on this: the Orange County record bootlegger known as Jon Wizardo and his friend Larry were among the first of the Southern California bootleggers, and had a sense of humor, such as releasing the first boot of the Beatles 1964 Hollywood Bowl concert with a Xerox insert of a cut-out paper Beatle wig to tape to your head.

The pair had always liked mischief—they’d put out an underground newspaper with Billy Wizard comics in high school—and they realized it was a short jump from making records of their musical heroes to putting out records of themselves.

So, on a home reel-to-reel recorder, they laid down these two tracks, never imagining that decades later it would become a collector’s item cloaked in mystery.

Released on the Wizardo label, and made in the same LA plant that pressed bootlegs for Wizardo, TMOQ and other boot labels, the record actually got some airplay on Dr. Demento, until the good doctor agreed with listeners that it was just too offensive and banished it from the airwaves.

There has been speculation over the years that “Nazi Love” was somehow a product of the So Cal racist skinhead scene. Nope. One of its makers was Jewish, and both were just having some juvenile fun, pushing the “Nazis are funny” ethos of “Hogan’s Heroes” one or two goosesteps further.”

As if the cover wasn’t offensive enough, it’s no match for the back:

Billy Wizard 45 b

****

J Wizardo Recently

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5 comments
  1. Yesdays said:

    I was told by a record dealer in Southern Cal that I got 2 copies of 21 Golden Greats from in the 1980’s that the guy on the left on the cover insert with the very long hair was the actual Wizardo guy.

  2. Yesdays said:

    I have a “Bowie Live 74” seven-inch EP (Wizardo WR 201). I may be mistaken, but I believe this may have been the 1st “Wizardo” release.

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