February 9, 2016

Goodbye to Rocky Rococo.



"The man who played Rocky Rococo, the beloved character behind the namesake Madison, WI-based pie chain with a cult following, died Thursday."

RIP, James Martin Pedersen.

The link goes to my son John's Facebook page, where he says: "When I was a kid, I always loved to go there with my dad, Richard L Cohen."

Which I think says something about what I thought of that pizza. I moved to Madison in from New York in 1984. Rocky Rococo pizza was let's just say incomprehensible compared to New York pizza. As for Rocky Rococo, he always made me think of Leon Redbone....



I love Leon Redbone....
With his wide-brim hats and big sunglasses, Redbone was a man of mystery from the start. He rose to fame in the mid-Seventies after Bob Dylan spotted him at a folk festival and told Rolling Stone how curious Redbone was. "Leon interests me," Dylan said in 1974. "I've heard he's anywhere from 25 to 60, I've been [a foot and a half from him] and I can't tell, but you gotta see him. He does old Jimmie Rodgers, then turns around and does a Robert Johnson."
Leon was at the extreme bottom end of Dylan's 1974 estimation. Today, he's 66.

The man who played Rocky Rococo was 68.
“On Valentine’s Day, he’d go to all (11) of our stores in La Crosse and Madison and entertain everybody at each place by handing out breadsticks and singing out a kind of rap poem that he’d change all the time,” [co-owner Roger] Brown said. “He’d get great applause at every place he visited. People would count on him coming every year.”
And: "He was a comedian with Chicago’s Second City and worked with John Belushi and Bill Murray for two years on stage before he moved to Madison."

14 comments:

Robert Cook said...

I never cared for Leon Redbone. As with Tom Waits, another artist I never liked, Redbone always seemed (seems) simply to be aping the vocal style(s) of other artists from an older era. (I find this more irritating in Waits, whose act--the slurring, whiskey-voiced beatnik hobo--always seems false and arch. Redbone doesn't try for such louche "cool," so his mimicry's modesty is less offensive.)

Original Mike said...

I was never able to tell how old Leon Redbone was either.

Jim Nicholson said...

Is his pizzeria next to Ralph Spoilsport Motors, by any chance?

MadisonMan said...

I ate a lot of Rocky Rococo pizza in grad school. It wasn't good pizza.

Char Char Binks said...

I love Rocky Rococo, the pizza and the man! And Leon Redbone said he would sometimes get mistaken for him when he was in Madison.

Wilbur said...

I, too, love Leon Redbone, for his keeping alive the great old songs from the great old performers, and the genuine affection he has for them.

I went to see him at a small venue back in the 80s. I would've sworn he'd done heroin before he came on. Very disappointing.

Danno said...

I thought Rocky Rococo's was named after the villain in the Firesign Theater radio show and LPs that began in the 1970s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B4LqXItX6w

tim in vermont said...

It's now the Reaper Boom.

Just Mike said...

Champagne Charlie is my name...
Champagne Charlie is my name by golly
and rogueing 'n stealing is a game

List-a-Beefy said...

Jim Pedersen was one of the handful of people who gave us interviews for our book on the history of Madison restaurants. He was very approachable and awfully nice. I was very saddened by passing.

buck said...

The days of Rocky loitering around the drugstore, drinking chocolate malted vulcans and giving away free high schools are now over.

eddie willers said...

Is his pizzeria next to Ralph Spoilsport Motors, by any chance?

Yes...and they serve Ersatz Bros. Coffee.

Quaestor said...

I thought Rocky Rococo's was named after the villain in the Firesign Theater radio show and LPs that began in the 1970s.

To my knowledge Rocky Rococo (or Roccoco) only appeared in the "Nick Danger" plays. He was a parody of Joel Cairo as played by Peter Lorre in The Maltese Falcon (which was actually a remake!). He was voiced by the late Peter Bergman. BTW, rococo is a portmanteau of borocco, a Venetian term for a misshapen pearl and rocaille, a mixture of seashells and pebbles used in 17th formal gardens.

The days of Rocky loitering around the drugstore, drinking chocolate malted vulcans and giving away free high schools are now over.

On come on, now... isn't it obvious the pun is on maltese falcons? Malted vulcans... jeez.


Quaestor said...

I often wondered if Leon Redbone was Frank Zappa in disguise.