No, not John Legend the Grammy-winning R&B guy – Johnny Legend, the "Rockabilly Rasputin." Perhaps not since "Dolemite" himself – the late, great Rudy Ray Moore – left Ponderosa Stomp crowds laughing and gasping has so salty a performer been scheduled at the annual New Orleans music blowout. "Actor, director, rockabilly singer, trash film historian, wrestling manager and promoter – modern-day Renaissance man Johnny Legend has truly done it all and then some in a remarkably rich, eclectic, and impressive career that has spanned over four decades and shows no signs of stopping," according to the Internet Movie Database.
Born Martin Margulies on Oct. 3, 1949, in San Fernando, Calif., Legend formed the band the Seeds of Time in 1966 and worked the Sunset Strip along with the Doors, Love, and the Seeds. The latter group's relative success forced a name change, however. As Legend tells it at RockabillyHall.com: Seeds singer "Sky Saxon started coming up and saying, 'Hey, I love you like a brother, but I'm probably gonna haveta sue your ass,' so we changed the name to Shadow Legend in '67. That was a harder-edged band, doing more a Yardbirds hard rock, all original songs, playing the Hullabaloo, the Galaxy next to the Whisky. You'd do three sets a night for a week -- one night the entire audience was Martha Raye and Neil Young."
Forming the group Blue Midnight around 1973, Legend helped lead the Los Angeles rockabilly revival. "What we did wasn't Ruben and the Jets or Flash Cadillac or Sha-Na-Na," Legend says at RockabillyHall.com. "I formed the band for Gene Vincent, and then he died, so I figured what the hell? We didn't do fashion crap or mimic the songs, we just did them in our own versions."
Next came the band Rollin' Rock Rebels, featuring Legend, Ronnie Weiser, Ray "Caterpillar" Campi, and future X member Billy Zoom – hailed as "the first authentic American rockabilly band since the 1950s."
In 1975, professional wrestling villain "Classy" Freddie Blassie recorded vocals for the songs "Blassie, King of Men" and "Pencil Neck Geek," which were performed by Legend and Zoom along with Jay Phillips on guitar and Steve Clark on drums. "Pencil Neck Geek" in particular became a cult classic, regularly featured on the "Dr. Demento Show" and on Demento's various novelty compilation albums. Legend and Blassie also worked together on 1983's "My Breakfast with Blassie" a parody of "My Dinner with Andre" with twisted comic actor Andy Kaufman.
Even before a childhood encounter with Ed Wood, Legend always had an interest in film, particularly horror and science fiction, having cultivated a friendship with neighbor and professional wrestler Tor "the Super Swedish Angel" Johnson, who played police inspector turned zombie Daniel in the movie "Plan 9 From Outer Space."
"Legend created both the 'Sleazemania' and 'Teenage Theater' series for Rhino Home Video in the late '80s and played an instrumental role in rediscovering and re-releasing countless obscure cartoons, low-budget horror flicks, and groovy exploitation pictures that otherwise might have vanished into oblivion. Among the movies Johnny has acted in are 'The Cat Ate My Parakeet,' 'Prison Ship,' 'Bride of Re-Animator,' 'Bug Buster', the Kaufman bio film 'Man on the Moon,' and '2001 Maniacs.' He released the album 'Bitchin' in 1998. Moreover, Legend has promoted wrestling matches and managed wrestlers on the West Coast. Johnny now runs the DVD label Legendhouse and continues to tour and perform music on stage all over the world," according to the Internet Movie Database.
If in years previous you missed Dolemite, if you missed Roky Erickson, if you missed Sky Saxon and the Seeds, this time around in 2011 you don't want to miss Johnny Legend – a true legend among the legends of the Ponderosa Stomp.