R.I.P. | Rock Candy

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2007 at 9:40 AM

click to enlarge unknown.jpg

This'll run in tomorrow's paper:

Victor Wiley, 1969-2007.

Central Arkansas lost one of its most prolific and important artists and musicians over the weekend. Victor Wiley, 37, died on Sunday from complications related to congestive heart disease.

It’s hard to conceive a more electrifying performer. The front man for dozens of local bands over the last two decades, Wiley channeled a kind of primordial joy onstage, an unhinged, pure burst of creativity that longtime friend and band mate Andrew Morgan describes as “funny, frightening, and always intense.”

He set things on fire, took his microphone deep within the crowd, and contorted his body in almost impossible ways. He was always arresting, Morgan says, no matter who was in the audience or how big it was.

He played in bands called the Stranger Steals, the Ventilators, the Third Sleeper Is the Brain, Uptown Prophets of Armageddon, High School Pusher, Sex, Fu-Yu, the Looks, Three Beats Box, Agua Azul, Flowers of Romance, High Tension House and Clicking Beetle Bad Omen Band. Those groups feature dozens of players and many of them sound wildly different, but with Wiley as a unifying factor, almost all sound brashly experimental, but visceral — challenging music that always manages to transcend.

Perhaps that’s a testament to Wiley’s vocals. The musician played everything from a saxophone to an altered record player he used to make beats, but worked no instrument like he did his voice. Noise factored heavily in a lot of his groups, and accordingly, he sang loudly and aggressively, but within that tone, he could manage a wail that was as haunting and soulful as the deepest blues.

Art always factored into Wiley’s performances and life, friends said.

“To be in a band with him and to be his friend, you were always surrounded by stuff he was making and had made,” said Stacy Mackey, a longtime friend and sometimes girlfriend. “You’d become part of it.”

Mackey met Wiley in the early ’90s when she was a student at Hendrix and he was a sculpture major at UCA.

“A lot of people know him as being really thin and fashionable, but when I met him he was this broad-shouldered big guy, who was really athletic and a great skateboarder.
“He drove a car and the front seat was gone,” she said, laughing. “He sat on a milk crate. There were other things missing in the car, but it just gave him more room to store his art supplies.”

When Mackey and Wiley moved back to Little Rock after college, Mackey said, they hungered for the kind of art and music resources college had afforded them. After a year or so of planning, they opened Das Yutes a Go-Go, an all-ages performance space that helped foster the city’s vibrant underground music culture of the day. The fire marshal forced them to shut down the venue after only eight months when he said it wasn’t up to code.

As early as 1993, Wiley and Mackey started feeding the homeless on a weekly basis, first as the People’s Picnic and later under the nationally recognized name Food Not Bombs. The project, Mackey said, came from the idea that there’s so much excess in the world coupled with so much hunger.

Friends say Wiley was passionate and earnest in his art and music and volunteerism, but always with a sense of humor.

“It felt like we were always doing something for a laugh,” said Ai Lien Draheim, another longtime friend, “even if we were doing something completely serious, like Food Not Bombs. He worked hard to ensure that a good time was had by all.”

“He was a total goofball,” Morgan said. “I’ve been trying to think of recent conversations we’d been having, and I can’t quote him, I can just hear him laughing. He had like 10 different laughs.”

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24, at Ruffin & Jarrett Funeral Home Chapel, 1200 Chester St. Mike Poe, another longtime friend of Wiley’s, has secured the Darragh Center for a post-memorial lunch with food donated from Starving Artist Cafe and a concert featuring local bands to follow at Rumba-Revolution at 5 p.m.

NOTE: Mike Poe invites musicians who want to play the Rev Room show at 256-4752.

Photo by Rett Peek.  

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The PR Stunt Edition

    Little Rock’s Amazon PR stunt, the Tom Cotton to the CIA rumor, French Hill and Puerto Rico and UA-Little Rock's football future — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • Oct 20, 2017
  • The First Amendment, Yo Edition

    The latest in the legal fight to stop a law that would prevent Planned Parenthood from performing abortions in Arkansas, the cancellation of a rap show in Little Rock and its First Amendment implications, a stunning investigative report on drug court defendants being forced to work for free for Arkansas poultry companies and bellicose Tom Cotton — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • Oct 13, 2017
  • Come with the Arkansas Times to the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival

    After several years of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro hosting benefit concerts to raise money for the restoration of Johnny Cash's boyhood home, this year the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival debuts in Dyess just outside the Cash homeplace. And of course the Arkansas Times is chartering a bus to be there. The lineup is spectacular: Kris Kristofferson (one of the greatest songwriters of all-time easily), Rosanne Cash, Joanne Cash and Tommy Cash and Buddy Jewel.
    • Oct 13, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Judge anticipates punishment of lawyers in Fort Smith class action case

    Federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith issued a 32-page ruling yesterday indicating he contemplates punishment of 16 lawyers who moved a class action lawsuit against an insurance company out of his court to a state court in Polk County after a settlement had been worked out.
    • Apr 15, 2016
  • John Goodson and others add lawyers for hearing on forum shopping

    Lawyers facing federal court sanctions for forum shopping a class action insurance case have brought in new legal guns from out of state to fight potential sanctions.
    • May 26, 2016
  • Lawyers plead for mercy in Fort Smith forum shopping case

    Twelve of the lawyers facing punishment by federal Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith for moving a class action case against an insurance company out of his court to a state court where it was speedily settled have filed their argument against sanctions.
    • Jun 16, 2016

Most Shared

  • Guest Playlist: Flap Jones of "Not Necessarily Nashville" schools us on real country music

    "Not Necessarily Nashville," which airs on KUAR-FM 89.1 every Saturday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., celebrates three decades of the "best of the rest of country music" Saturday, October 21 at the White Water Tavern with Brad Williams of The Salty Dogs & The Creek Rocks, and we asked host Flap Jones to curate a playlist for us ahead of that anniversary celebration.
  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Most Recent Comments



More »


© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation