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Most Patches Pals would agree that J.P. rocks, but I'll bet most of you don't know about The Clown's connections to Rock 'N Roll and how he had a strong influence on local musicians. Let's go back to the beginning, where, in his early radio days in Minneapolis, Chris Wedes got to interview a young, up and coming singer named Elvis Presley and later, as J.P. Patches in Seattle, he introduced The Beatles on his show (well... sort of).
Listen to Chris and Bob tell the story of "introducing" The Beatles:
But J.P. had a real impact on young, future rock stars from Seattle...
The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) recently offered a peek at some items that are not currently on display. Among the items that are in deep storage is a metal trash can lid that was signed by local musicians, including members of Soundgarden, Queensrÿche, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. You can make out Soundgarden and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron's signature on the lid above.
Chris Cornell, Soundgarden frontman, surprised J.P. with the lid at a video release party for The Clown's VHS tapes at Tower Records in 1992.
Cornell recalled how the name of the band's album Superunknown was inspired by J.P. in a Rolling Stone interview in this video below.
On March 5th and 6th, 1992, Soundgarden invited J.P. to introduce them at their homecoming shows at the Paramount after touring the world with Guns N' Roses. Soundgarden had just exploded onto the worldwide scene and, on the second night, the crowd was going crazy, tearing up seats and doing what kids at rock concerts do. Until J.P. asked them to quiet down and told them they weren't being very good Patches Pals. Everyone immediately calmed down and started behaving themselves. The power of The Clown.
Here is video of J.P. introducing Soundgarden on the first night, March 5th, 1992:
Duff McKagan, bassist for Guns N' Roses, grew up in Seattle and was a Patches Pal. After Chris's passing in 2012, Duff wrote this Seattle Weekly article about the impact J.P. had on Seattle musicians and how it made them a little bit different. "The importance of J.P. Patches may not make any sense to any of you under the age of, say, 34 or 35--and will certainly not make any sense to those of you outside our area--but J.P. Patches, to people like me who grew up under his watchful and hilarious eye, informed us all about a unique sense of humor that had so much to do with the formation of the identity of this town. I'm serious."
Ann Wilson, of Heart, shares this memory, "You bet I was a Patches Pal. In fact, Nancy even went on the show with her Brownie group. They were each given loaves of Sunbeam bread. Years later I finally saw him in person at my high school doing a fundraiser. He was standing outside with some blonde. I was crushed."
Presidents of the United States of America founding member Chris Ballew even wrote a song in tribute to J.P. for his kiddie-rock band, Caspar Babypants. As Chris wrote on his Youtube page, "This is a song I wrote in honor of the late great J.P. Patches. I watched him on TV every morning and afternoon after school. I didn't realize how important his show was to my songwriting style until I sat down to write this one. He had a way of inviting me into his world and making me feel included that I still hold important as I make music for kids. I miss you J.P.! You were the last of a special breed of entertainer."
Another local band, Aaiiiee, which bosts an impressive roster of Seattle rock and punk veterans, went a different route and recorded this song about the second meanest man in the world, Boris S. Wort (booooo!):
It's a shame to cover up your smile, but now you can wear the famous smile of J.P. or Gertrude! Sure to bring a spark of joy and nostalgia to all who recognize it! A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Seattle Children's.
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One of my favorite firefighter memories was prior to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, Nordies had a kick off breakfast for the employees and JP was the guest of honor. I was the driver of E51 that day and we “delivered” JP to the breakfast. Growing up a Patches Pal, this was of course a great day for me!!!