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Gary Wilson (born October 1953) is an experimental musician/performance artist best known for his 1977 album You Think You Really Know Me, after which he promptly retired from recording and performing concerts.
In 1969, Wilson discovered the music of aleatoric composer John Cage. When sought out, Cage surprisingly invited the 14-year-old musician into his home to discuss and critique music for several days. Wilson was also given advice by the composer, such as if your music/performance "doesn’t irritate people, you aren’t doing your" This experience is deemed by many to be a huge event in Wilson's life, and his songs became increasingly experimental after this point. Wilson has also cited David Tudor as a major influence during this time. Upon graduation from high school in 1970, he moved to New York City for several weeks, but quickly returned to his parents' home in Endicott, New York. Around this time, Wilson "fell right into" playing lounge music on the side, just as his father had.
Gary Wilson went to Albert Grossman's Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York in 1976, a well known recording studio that has played host to sessions by Bob Dylan, R.E.M., Patti Smith, The Rolling Stones and many other notable acts. There, Wilson recorded versions of "6.4=Make Out", "Chromium Bitch", "Groovy Girls", and "I Want To Lose Control". He eventually decided that he would prefer to record at his familiar home studio and finished recording You Think You Really Know Me, his first album, in his parents' basement. On this recording, Wilson sometimes played solo and was other times accompanied by a backing band, The Blind Dates. He pressed, distributed, funded and released the album himself. Wilson pressed 300 copies in 1977 and a further 300 copies in 1979 (he now claims that he only has one original copy left in his personal possession from these pressings). A few years later, Cry Baby Records would re-release the album, pressing about 1000 copies.
His 1970s concert performances were cited as bizarre and outrageous, a "show that included cellophane, duct tape, bed sheets, fake blood, flour, and milk." So outlandish were the shows that often they would have their electricity cut in attempts to get them to leave the stage. After receiving a small amount of radio play, Wilson decided to try and pursue landing a record deal and moved west to California in 1978. There he recorded three singles, In the Midnight Hour/When I Spoke of Love (1978), Forgotten Lovers E.P. (1979) and Invasion of Privacy (1980). Although he did have some supporters (receiving fanmail during the period from the band The Residents), viable commercial success did not find Wilson. After a 1981 American tour, he retired from the experimental music scene and dropped off the public radar.
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