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ED "BIG DADDY" ROTH
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L'artista che creò il ratto Fink'

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth era un popolare artista e un costruttore custom già nel corso dei primi anni sessanta.
Le sue opere sono ora definitivamente diventate parte della storia dell'arte americana. Le sue creazioni non hanno tempo e attraggono anche le ultime generazioni. Per molti può essere considerato Ed "Big Granddaddy" Roth.

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth è nato a Beverly Hills il 4 marzo del 1932, cresce in famiglia, di lingua tedesca, con un fratello più giovane, Gordon. A scuola Ed impara l'inglese e gli piace disegnare, è abile nel realizzare immagini di aeroplani, di auto Hot Rod e di mostri. Il padre Henry era molto rigoroso con i due fratelli, che li tiene lontano dai problemi fornendo loro gli strumenti necessari e un lavoro. Il padre è stato un costruttore di armadietti ed è da lui che Ed ha imparato come costruire dal legno le cose più pazze e strane. 

Ed Roth aveva comprato la sua prima automobile nel 1946, era una Ford Coupé del 1933. Si era diplomato nel 1949 ed aveva intrapreso ingegneria all'università in modo da poter incrementare la sua conoscenza nel disegno automobilistico. Era bravo all'università ma si annoiava a studiare fisica e ingegneria perché non avevano nulla a che fare con le automobili.

Un'auto customizzata da 'The Baron', a destra una delle prime realizzazioni di Ed.

Ed fece parte dell'aeronautica nel 1951, era andato alla scuola per bombardieri a Denver, dove aveva imparato come fare le mappe. Era stato dislocato in Africa per un po' e poi venne trasferito nella Carolina del Sud per 4 anni, prima di tornarsene a casa nel 1955, congedato con onore. 

Aveva posseduto parecchi veicoli, è stato sposato ed ha avuto 5 bambini, tutti maschi. Ed aveva cominciato a lavorare alla Sears nel reparto schermi, e nel dopo lavoro faceva lo 'striping' sulle automobili. 

Così come cresceva la familia lo stesso era per le spese. Nel 1958 Ed era andato a lavorare a tempo pieno con "The Baron" e suo nipote Kelly*. Usando materiale di scarto e un nuovo prodotto appena sviluppato, chiamato vetroresina, Ed aveva cominciato a creare automobili nel suo garage. La prima auto si chiamava "Little Jewel" e subito dopo era venuta "Outlaw", che aveva dimostrato al mondo che chiunque poteva progettare e costruire un'auto senza avere alcun titolo di ingegnere d'auto. Quello di cui c'era realmente bisogno era l'immaginazione, un poco di conoscenza di motori, molto olio di gomito e intraprendenza. 

*(Tom Kelly è un altro importante customizer di auto. Iniziò con suo nonno chiamato 'The Baron', proseguì con la sua officina 'Crazy Painter' nella California del sud. Famoso per le sue capacità di esperto verniciatore, introdusse l'uso della tinta ad effetto perla. Ora è con il figlio che continua nell'attività)

A sinistra, The Baron all'opera, a destra, La 'Outlaw' realizzata da Ed Roth

Il suo garage si era così trasformato nel suo studio dove altre creazioni videro la luce, incluse la "Beatnik Bandit" e il "Rotar".

Ed era diventato Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, scienziato pazzo ed artista impegnato che finanziava le sue invenzioni vendendo illustrazioni e t-shirt durante gli eventi di corse d'auto, alle fiere ed alle esposizioni d'auto. Ed disegnava fumetti di mostri di sua invenzione ed immagini di automobili. Ma quando iniziò a disegnare, direttamente con la pistola a spruzzo, le magliette con i mostri che guidavano le auto, la gente divenne pazza e faceva la fila alla sua bancarella per comprare di tutto. 

Il mostro più popolare di Ed è Fink il topo, o meglio il ratto. Il Rat Fink era un'illustrazione che Ed aveva messo inizialmente sopra il suo frigorifero. "Big Daddy" era un genio a progettare automobili ma era stato il Rat Fink a dargli la fama. Dal 1963, i ragazzi americani comprano i prodotti e le t-shirt fatte in serie del suo Rat Fink.

Ed divenne così occupato che il suo garage non poteva più contenere tutto il suo lavoro, lo svolgere delle operazioni vennero spostate in un nuovo negozio a Lakewood, in California. Ed dovette assumere parecchi impiegati per aiutarlo a continuare a costruire e produrre le 'custom car' e le t-shirts. La Revell, che produceva in scatola di montaggio modellini in scala, realizzò il kit del modello "Beatnik Bandit" e il "Road Agent". Altri modelli in kit vennero poi realizzati in seguito, compreso il Rat Fink. La Revell nel 1963 pagava come royalties un cent di dollaro per ogni modello che vendeva. Ed aveva portato a casa 32.000 dollari solo quell'anno, in diritti d'autore. 

I mostri più noti erano: Rat Fink, Drag Nut, Mother's Worry e Mr.Gasser, i quali divennero presto degli eroi per tutti i giovani della nazione. 

Vennero persino realizzati dei dischi musicali. La band si chiamava 'Mr.Gasser' (ospite Ed Roth) e i 'Weirdos'. Le canzoni raccontavano le storie del gruppo di 'mostri'. Il messaggio che si voleva dare era che 'essere differente'
o bizzarro era un bene ed essere 'Fink' e strani era 'fico'. Una lezione che alcuni di noi non si sono dimenticati mai. Il ratto Fink e il gruppo, che guidavano le loro hot rod, erano diventate delle icone dell'arte-rock. Un certo numero di gruppi alternativi e Punk avevano usato le immagini di Ed Roth sui loro LP e CD. C'è persino una band chiamata Rat Fink.

Un kit della Revell, a destra, l'album dei Birthday Party band, Junk Yard, con 'creature' di Ed Roth

Le illustrazioni di Ed Roth si possono trovare, dagli anni 80 fino a metà degli anni 90, anche in fumetti underground prodotti da Roth e da Sloane. Potete trovare le illustrazioni di Ed Roth anche nei laboratori di tatuaggio e nelle gallerie d'arte. Sì, molti di noi considerano i lavori di Roth della vera arte.

Il 4 aprile del 2001, Ed Roth è morto, i medici hanno detto che si è trattato di un attacco di cuore. Ma il genio di Ed Roth ha creato un mostro senza tempo.

(un'immagine recente di Ed 'big Daddy' Roth)

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My parents first introduced me to Ed "Big Daddy" Roth in the early 60's.  My mother and father were both of German decent and grew up as Hot Roddin' beatnik type teenagers and members of various car clubs in Southern California. Before I was born my father had owned several hot rods that included a couple Harley Davidson Hogs.  I remember both of my parents using the term Rat Fink or Rat or Fink in their daily vocabulary along with other terms like cool daddy, crazy, etc. 

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was a pretty popular artist and builder during that period.   I remember my mother liked building models of all types and this is how I was introduced to Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's creations.  As a young adolescent I ended up with a whole collection of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's merchandize, models, collecting cards, key chains, t-shirts and record albums.   

Throughout the years I had truly become a big fan of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.   In 1999 I was introduced to Ed and we came up with the concept of putting this here website on the net.  This was like a dream come true for me and during the two years that we worked together we became very good friends.   Ed "Big Daddy" Roth has definitely become part of Americana art history and one who influenced my life and the life of others, there is even a new generation of Roth fans out there which proves that his artwork is timeless. 

He could even be considered Ed "Big Granddaddy" Roth to some. 

 

Moldy Marvin

 

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Ed "Big Daddy" Roth  March 4, 1932 - April 4, 2001

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was born in Beverly Hills on March 4, 1932.  He grew up in a German speaking household with a younger brother, Gordon.  In school Ed learned to speak English and he liked to draw.  Ed was able to do his homework and keep up with the rest of the class while he drew pictures of airplanes, hot rods and monsters.  His father Henry was very strict with the brothers and kept the two out of trouble by supplying them with tools and a workshop.  Ed's dad was a German cabinet maker and it was in the workshop where Ed learned how to build crazy stuff out of wood. 

Ed purchased his first car in 1946 shortly after WW II ended.  It was a 1933 Ford Coupe.  He graduated high school in 1949, and went on to college majoring in engineering so he could advance his knowledge in automotive design.  He started with his '33 Ford.  Ed did pretty good in college but got bored with his engineering and physics classes cuz they just didn't have anything to do with cars. 

Ed joined the Air Force in 1951 and went to bombsight school in Denver where he learned how to make maps.   He became an expert barber on the side.  He was stationed in Africa for awhile and then transferred to South Carolina for 4 years before coming home.  Ed was honorably discharged in 1955. 

By that time he owned several vehicles, he was married and had 5 children, all boys.  Ed began working at Sears in the Display Department and started pin striping cars after work.

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"Outlaw"

As his family grew so did the bills.  In 1958 Ed went to work full time with "The Baron" and his grandson Kelly.  Using junkyard parts and a newly developed product called fiberglass, Ed created automobiles in his garage.  Ed's first car was called the "Little Jewel" and then shortly after that came the "Outlaw", which showed the world that anyone could design and build a car without being some kind of certified automotive engineer.  All you really needed was imagination, some motor head know-how, a lot of elbow grease and gumption.

Presto!  His garage became his studio where other creations came into light which include the "Beatnik Bandit"  and "Rotar".

 

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Ed's Racing Billboard from the 60's

Ed became Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, a hot-roddin' gear head, mad scientist and struggling artist who financed his inventions by selling drawings and t-shirts at drag events, fairs and car shows.  Ed would draw cartoons of monsters that he created and pictures of cars.   But when he personally airbrushed t-shirts with the monsters driving the cars, people went crazy and would line up at his booth.

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People Still Line Up To See Ed

Ed signing autographs @ Route 66 San Bernardino, CA  September "99"

Ed's most popular monster was Rat Fink.  Rat Fink started as a drawing that Ed had put on his refrigerator.  "BiG Daddy" was a genius at designing cars but it was Rat Fink that brought him fame.  By 1963, teenagers across America were buying Rat Fink model kits and mass-produced Rat Fink T-shirts.

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When Ed got so busy that his garage couldn't handle the work, he moved his operation into a new shop in Lakewood, California.  Ed had to hire several employees to help him build and produce more custom car and t-shirts.  Revell American produced model car kits that featured the "Beatnik Bandit" and " Road Agent".  Other model kits included "Rat Fink" and the gang a group of hot rodding monsters. Here is a very interesting Note: During 1963 Revell paid Ed a one cent royalty for each model sold. Ed brought in $ 32,000 that year in royalties, now figure out the math, that's how popular Ed's creations were.

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The Gang included: Rat Fink, Drag Nut, Mother's Worry and Mr. Gasser.  They soon became heroes to young kids across the nation who could relate to the stories and themes of the gang.

There were also several record albums produced.  The band was called Mr. Gasser (featuring Ed Roth) and the Weirdos. The songs featured on these records told descriptive stories about the gang and their favorite pastimes like hot rodding and surfing.  The general message intended was that being different or weird was o.k. and being a Fink or a Weirdo was cool.   It was a lesson some of us never forgot.

Rat Fink and the gang driving their hot rods have become rock-art icons.  Originally they were adopted by surf musicians and today the gang can be found everywhere.  A number of punk and alternative bands have used Roth's images on  LP's and CD's such as: Birthday Party "An Australian Band" with Junk Yard cover 1981  and current releases by the Voodoo Glow Skulls Cover Artist "Marco Almera". There is even a band called Rat Fink.

Other Roth fans and enthusiasts include the Cramps and Rob Zombie of White Zombie.  Rob Zombie is also an extremely gifted artist claiming that "Big Daddy" is his Daddy. Zombie currently has a whole line of sportswear and hot rodding swag that he manufactures.

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Ed Roth's artwork can be found throughout the late 80's and mid 90's in underground comics produced by Roth and Sloane.  You can also find Roth's artwork in tattoo parlors and in art galleries.   Yes, many of us consider Roth's work fine art.  You can also find Roth's creations on concert posters by other American cult artist Frank Kozik and Coop.

We lost our big guy on April, 4th 2001 the doctors said it was a heart attack. Ed Roth's genius has created a timeless monster.  Rat Fink and the Gang will still reach the diverse demographic appeal of the young adults of today and us baby boomers of the fifties.  Rat Fink and the gang will continue into the new millennium capturing a new group of Finks young and old for decades to come.

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Richard Reesman / Rumpsville USA: Richard is an independent contractor/web
developer/graphic artist extraordinaire. Check out his Website site at
www.reesman.com.   Richard has also developed and dedicated a website for the continued education of the Americana car and Kustom Kulture called Rumpsville USA .  He has written some wonderful articles about the masters that include photographs and bios of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Von Dutch, Norm Grabowski and George Barris.  I have to give Richard a lot of credit for his work.  He is one of those that has truly inspired me.  To go to Rumpsville click the Rumpsville image below.

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www.rumpsville.com

Big Daddy's Web Site

"Birthday Party" The Band,  See full size images of album cover and history

Rat Fink The Band

"Big Daddy" Ed Roth Wagen Meister Cyberspace Photos

Robert's Rat Fink Web Page Lots of Fink Pictures.

Back to the Ed Roth Memorial Directory

Hot Rods by Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth:
Ed Roth, Tony Thacker (Contributor) / Paperback / Published 1995

Ya can find this one in our on-line B@@K Store.

bstore.gif (1605 bytes)Check out our B@@k Store We GoT some really Great titles and we're working on gettin' more K@@L Kustom Kulture propaganda for you folks.....

Kustom Kulture : Von Dutch, Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth, Robert Williams and Others
Ron Turner(Compiler) / Paperback / Published 1993

B@@K Store Price   $ 29.00 + S+H. Check it out !!!!

Good luck tryin' ta find this one ya might try yer local library: 

Confessions of a Rat Fink : The Life and Times of Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth by Ed Roth

Here's a good one............

Juxtapoz, is a monthly magazine that features work by new artists carrying on the tradition of Ed Roth and Robert Williams.  In fact Robert Williams is the Founder of Juxtapoz,  You can get Juxtapoz from our Book Store or Kulture Shoq Studio, the mag sells for around $ 5.00 + Postage you can call (800) 880-6567 ta get your copy.

 

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So ya all wanna learn more 'bout Rat Fink and his gang, then click the link below

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(Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Rat Fink, Beatnik Bandit, Road Agent, Outlaw, Mysterion, Tweedy Pie, Stealth 2000, Surfite, Wild Child,
Angel Fink, Robin Hood Fink, Mothers Worry, & Dragnut are all trademarks of Ed Roth (C) '99)

This Page Last Up Date 06/01/03

Rat Fink™ name and device and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and "Moldy Marvin"

are trademarks of Ed Roth © 1999/2000/2001/2002/2003 Rat Fink device ©  Ed Roth 1984/89

 

Bookmark our Website and Check Out Drive Magazine on line for some great articles by "Big Daddy" Himself

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Copyright 1999/2000/2001/2002/2003 @utomated Entertainment Little Rock, CA 93543