- John Means
"For the former Governor of
South Carolina, see John Hugh Means"
John Means, a former community college English instructor living in his hometown
Mason City, Illinois, who had gained fame in the 1980s as a stand-up comedian. Based out of San Francisco, he performed under the stage name " Dr. Gonzo." His act was a combination of standard observational humor and humorous songs, self-accompanied on electric guitar.
The songs were generally parodies of popular tunes of the day; however, in contrast to contemporary musical parodists such as
"Weird Al" Yankovic, whose songs were performed comically, Means' musical accompaniments were largely faithful to the original artists'. His musical sensibilities caught the attention of some of the popular musicians of the day, and he was soon performing on the same bills as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Los Lobos, and other straight musical acts.
His most successful collaboration was with famed 80's rock group,
Huey Lewis and the News. He performed in several of their popular music videos, and traveled with them as the warm-up act on their 1984-1985 world tour. "Dr. Gonzo" can be seen on DVD on the 3 disc Back to the Futureset in a special music video made for the movie, featuring "Doc Brown" Christopher Lloyd. By the mid-1980s, he was one of the most successful local acts in the San Francisco area. In 1989, he joined 45 other performers, including Los Lobos, Santana, Aaron Neville, and Crosby, Stills & Nash at a benefit concert in Watsonville, Californiafor victims of the Loma Prieta earthquake.
By the early 1990s, the stand-up craze that had fueled the success of "Dr. Gonzo" had started to subside. He retired from performing and moved back to Mason City, where he took a position as an English professor at a nearby college and served on the city council. In 2002 he opened two restaurants in Mason City with his wife Peggy. An Italian pizza and pasta house named "PJ's" and a steakhouse named "Jack & Jo's" after his parents. For more info visit [http://www.jackandjos.com JackandJos.com] . He devotes his spare time to beautification projects in his hometown.
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