Merrell Fankhauser has led one of the most diverse and interesting careers in music. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and moved to California when he was 13 years old. Merrell went on to become one of the innovators of surf music and psychedelic folk rock. His travels from Hollywood to his 15 year jungle experience on the island of Maui have been documented in numerous music books and magazines in the United States and Europe, including an in-depth interview in Goldmine in 1996. Merrell has gained legendary international status throughout the field of rock music. His credits include over 250 songs published and released. He is a multi-talented singer/songwriter and unique guitar player whose sound has delighted listeners for over 50 years. In addition to a long and successful career of performing and recording, Merrell has hosted his own popular radio and television shows.
5 Questions with MERRELL FANKHAUSER
1. Liz & Lou: Who were your main musical influences?
Merrell: When I was around 11 years old I got a ukulele. My dad showed me some chords and I started trying to figure out songs off of the radio in the mid 50's, around the time of the birth of Rock & Roll. I listened to the early Doo Wop groups and heard Carl Perkins doing "Blue Suede Shoes" and he really sparked my interest, and then many other bands and artists that followed like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Ricky Nelson.
2. Liz & Lou: Do you have a particular memory from your career that stands out in your mind?
Merrell: A memory that really stands out in my mind happened around 1960 when I was asked by the manager of a local movie theater to do a few songs between the Saturday matinee shows. I would do a few Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson songs, and they paid me $12! After a performance I went out in the lobby and was mobbed by screaming teenage girls wanting my autograph! I did the theater gig solo for about a year and that was really the beginning of my music career.
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