Ducks and mannikins

Gary Wilson, gifted musician

Gary Wilson, in Hillcrest, where he's lived since 1978.
  • Gary Wilson, in Hillcrest, where he's lived since 1978.
  • Image by Andy Boyd

Since the late 1970s, the freaky lounge music made by occasional duck owner and mannikin enthusiast Gary Wilson has been championed by everybody from Beck to Jimmy Fallon and the Roots.

Favorite locals to share a bill?

“I recently had fun doing some shows with Botanica Chango.”

Where do you buy your performance props?

“Most of the things I use on stage come to me by gift. Once, someone sent eight mannikin heads to my apartment.”

Best thing about your neighborhood?

“My girlfriend and I have lived in Hillcrest since 1978. I like that I can walk to everything I need.”

Where do you go after a gig?

“Perhaps if it’s late, I’ll head to Rudford’s for a serving of french fries and gravy. If early, I’ll go to Filippi’s in Little Italy for a pizza.”

What ’70s venue do you miss playing?

“The Roxy Theater in P.B., Straighta Head Sound [La Mesa], and My Rich Uncle’s on El Cajon Boulevard.”

Where have you performed the longest?

“Since the early 1980s at the Belly Up, when I was playing bass with Roy Brown, who was big in the late 1940s into the ’50s. One of his hits was ‘Good Rocking Tonight.’ I recently played there with the band Foxygen... I like the Belly Up for sound and backline.”

If the city named a beach after you, what would it be like?

“‘The Gary Wilson Beach,’ where my ducks and mannikins can roam free...I like that.”

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