A Birthday Trifecta For Lovers Of Oddball Music
Today is George Washington's birthday, so there's that. However, February 22 is also the birthday of some truly bizarre figures in American history, and those figures have been the inspiration to a great many musicians.
Dwight Frye, aka Fritz, in James Whale's Frankenstein (1931)
For instance, if he were still alive, Dwight Frye would be 112 years old today. Who is Dwight Frye? Frye was basically the Lon Cheney of henchmen and lunatics. His most famous role is that of Renfield in Tod Browning's Dracula. That's the Lugosi one for the culturally impaired. Frye also played the lab assistant Fritz in the original Frankenstein. When people talk about Igor, they're really talking about Fritz.
"The Man of a Thousand Deaths" was a great inspiration to shock-rock legend Alice Cooper, who wrote a song called "The Ballad of Dwight Fry," from what he considered Renfield's point of view, for the album Love It to Death.
Cooper used an alternate spelling in order to avoid a possible lawsuit, but the reference is unmistakeable. In concert, Cooper usually sings the song secured in a strait jacket, only to break free and strangle his nurse, who has been played onstage in the past by his daughter.
Legend goes that to get into the proper mood while recording the track, Cooper lay down on the concrete floor and had the band pile plastic chairs on top of him to get the proper claustrophobic tone for the line "I've got to get out of here! I've got to get out of here."
Frye died of a heart attack at the young age of 44, during a bus trip. He'd just landed yet another great henchmen role, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker in a Woodrow Wilson biopic. In addition to Cooper's love letter, Wind-Up Entertainment, Inc. houses one music-publishing concern called Renfield Music Publishing, and another called Dwight Frye Music, which publishes Evanescence (Yay!) and Creed (Boo!).
Towering over many of Frye's hunchbacked and deranged character, as well as every one else who has ever lived, was Robert Wadlow, "The Alton Giant." Wadlow is recognized as the single tallest human being who ever lived - when he died, he was 8 feet, 11.1 inches tall and still growing.