Oliver and the Doon Buggys started off as a flamenco band, so they say. But then all the flamencos flew south for the winter and Oliver turned to punk rock. If the story’s true it explains why Oliver was such a classy dude, and what all that rhythmic pizzazz was doing in his fingers.

Is there a proper adjectivial phrase that describes the kind of music the Doon Buggys produced, especially nursed in the conservative enclave of Irvine, California? If there is it can only be found in Oliver’s liner notes. The man was a punk poet, plucky and perverse, a pontificator, a preacher and, as Kris Kristofferson would say, a “problem when he’s stoned.” But that’s the music biz for you.

Unless he was gifted with the utilities of a cat, Oliver only died once. Was he the body burned in the motel room in Montreal, the unknown American shot in Somalia, or drowned with 50 others on a cruise ship skirting Baja California? Did he OD or did he ascend on a chariot of fire, called back to sing for the angels with a golden plectrum and a Spanish soul? Nobody knows what happened to Oliver. All we know is what he told us, and that’s never on the radio.

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