Monday, October 29, 2007

Would you buy a hamburger from this man?

I did.

I've met a few celebrities in my life. Muhammad Ali, in the Louisville airport. Majel Barrett, of Star Trek fame. Ron Glass, who I watched on Barney Miller and Firefly. In every one of those meetings, I knew who I was talking to. I'm not easily awed by celebrity - I mainly want to shake hands and tell whoever it is that I appreciate their work, or what they stand for. (Okay, there was a little awe with Muhammad Ali.)

But in approximately 1978, when I was 16, I went into a new hamburger joint in Bloomington, Indiana called Oz Bach's Boogie Woogie Burger Bus, and bought a burger from Oz Bach himself. Until just recently, I knew very little about him beyond 1. cool name, and 2. had a Boogie Woogie Burger Bus. But a couple of weeks ago, I drove past the location of the old BWBB, and thought to myself "I wonder what happened to Oz Bach?"

I have a picture of him that I took in a high school photojournalism class. If I could find it, I'd scan it and post it. It looks just like the one here, except a few years younger, with darker hair, and with more muscles showing, because it was hot behind that grill. Looking right into the camera, his smile saying "Sure, you can take my picture!"

It turns out he was used to it.

Oz Bach was the bass player for Spanky and Our Gang, a 1960s pop band with hits I've actually listened to, like "Lazy Day" and "Sunday Will Never Be the Same." I've always known there is life after celebrity, and I never heard a word about his fame from Oz. I talked to him several times, and he was just this personable guy selling hamburgers from a bus. He died in 1998.

You can see him on the Ed Sullivan Show (Oz is on the far left), or find more info about Oz on his tribute page (on the Spanky and Our Gang site). ACPL has some of their music on 60s collection discs - if you search for "Spanky Our Gang" (without the quotes) and ignore the Little Rascals results, you can find most of it.