Jim Wiggins on Pat Hall...
I first met Pat Hall about
thirty years ago at the Old Vic Theatre on
Chicago's north side, recently converted from movies to stage shows. A
bunch of Chicago performers were there to do a benefit show for a very
sick kid and his family, and the honor of doing the first show into the
Under the stage, in the new Green Room, there was gathered some of the
finest blues players in the city, and me, a stand up comedian. The odor
pot was thick, the mood was quick, we all looked slick, ready to jam for
little boy who was sick, a blues song lookin' for a site...
Right in the center of the room sat one guy holding court, like a squat,
hairy king. Black beret, black vest over a black 't', camo cargo pants,
boots, and a very large smirk on his beardy face. He looked like a
terrorist, and indeed he was...
I went directly to him, stuck out my hand and said,,, "Hi,,, my name is
wiggins an' I'm doin' the comedy act!!!" This guy looked me over,
me, and said,,, "Who gives a fuck???" Then he leaned back, roared out a
giant laugh quite loud and long and dared me to be funny...
I knew at that very moment I had just met and made friends with the
version of a junk yard dog!!!
Junk Yard Dog, Junk Yard Dog, Everybody Fears a Junk Yard Dog...
Over the following years I discovered Pat Hall feasted often on other
peoples flesh,,, get too close an' he'd bite you simply to see if you
could take it, no matter if you bled. Pat Hall was most comfortable when
he could make you feel uncomfortable. Pat Hall protected the privacy of
his life by building fences that kept you out, but all they did was keep
Pat Hall in, chained up by his own choice.
Junk Yard Dog, Junk Yard Dog, Noone Pets a Junk Yard Dog...
The benefit show was a great success for the family, the audience, and
performers... We had a great time singing, playing, laughing, smoking,
drinking, cussing,,, probably ten or twelve blues musicians, and one
comedian, all playin' their best, and kicking some ass!!! We were all
that night, but Pat Hall was magnificent!!!
Pat Hall barked at everybody that night while he played his heart out
telling you that "This Stage is Mine, Mother Fucker!!! This is MY
and the sweat would fly along with the insults...
Pat Hall's stubby little fingers raced back and forth across the key
and he even found music in the cracks. Pat Hall sucked up the light from
the follow spot, forcing you to watch him snarl and snap and sing,
his lips, showing his teeth, those tiny little crooked teeth...
Pat Hall played loud and long, demanding center stage, and he knew how
drown out anybody brave enough to to try to get into his yard,,, he
you to play around in his territory...
Junk Yard Dog, Junk Yard Dog, Keep An Eye Out For The Junk Yard Dog...
We all got applause that night, but Pat Hall got the ovation, even from
all the performers. Pat Hall was the star and we knew it from two
things,,, 1st, Pat Hall told us he was the star and 2nd, the audience
agreed. We all knew he deserved it 'cause Pat Hall made the show!!!
Junk Yard Dog, Junk Yard Dog, You Gotta Watch a Junk Yard Dog!!!
A year or two later I had the pleasure of being bit by Pat Hall again at
joint in Palatine Illinois, a rehabbed place called Durty Nellies, which
claimed music and comedy shows as their enterprise.
A couple of fat guys put together an act called, "A Coupla Fat Guys" and
it was as unique as their name, two guys who played hard and argued
harder. Pat Hall on piano and vocals, Dave Grier on base and harmonies,
and he wrote all the funny stuff. Their act was loud and funny. During
next few months, Dave grew into a solid dependable performer, a
showman, a loyal friend to me and my family.
As talented as Pat Hall was, he didn't make a lot of friends with the
other performers at Nellie's, he bullied 'em and he didn't give a
This was his yard and he was the head dog. All the other performers
watched 'A Coupla Fat Guys' and learned from Pat Hall and grew to admire
his talents, his music, his entertaining genius,,, but,,, Dave Grier
his leash and that took real talent.
Junk Yard Dog, Junk Yard Dog, Someones Got To Guard the Junk Yard Dog!!!
George Carlin came into Durty Nellie's for two shows and A Coupla Fat
opened the shows. George said it had been a long time since he had such
great opening act... Dave Grier was quite proud and humble, Pat Hall
didn't understand why George wasn't opening for A Coupla Fat Guys.
believed Dave was a talented pussy cat, and George stated Pat Hall had a
problem with authority...
Junk Yard Dog, Junk Yard Dog, Someone Had To Shoot The Junk Yard Dog!!!
Me and my family lived upstairs at Nellie's and Pat spent a lot of time
there smoking my pot, drinking my tequila, eating my food, and worst of
all, telling my jokes. Pat even tried getting into my wifes panties, but
Joan told him there was already one ass hole in there AND in her life,
Pat would roar with laughter...
When Joan died Pat became a real uncle to my two youngest kids, Josh and
Joy. We moved from Nellie's down to Chicago's Lincoln Ave above another
joint called 'Earl's Pub'. If Pat was Uncle Junk Yard, Earl Pionke, The
Earl of Old Town, became the Granpa and next door neighbor, the owner of
real junk yard. Earl and Dave and Pat would sit around our kitchen table
trying to out smart mouth each other and telling giant lies to me and my
kids, and we loved it, 'cause Earl and Dave and Pat were still kids
Junk Yard Dogs, Junk Yard Dogs, Every Family Needs Some Junk Yard
Earl hired A Coupla Fat Guys for two weeks downstairs and they stayed
there and starred there for two and a half years. Soon, famous comedians
and blues musicians and singers and sports stars and politicians would
stop by to join the show as guests willing to be insulted by Earl or Pat
or Dave, and they gladly paid for the priviledge.
Audiences loved the shows and lined up for blocks. The music and fun
on all night long, the drinks were cold, the chili was hot, the shows
sensational. Pat Hall was finally home,,, he could boss every one
except Earl. Dave kept 'em from killing each other, and Earl fed 'em
Junk Yard Dog, Junk Yard Dog, Someone's Got To Feed a Junk Yard Dog!!!
Like life itself, all things come to an end: Earl retired by buying a
silent saloon, me and my kids moved to another state, A Coupla Fat Guys
split to follow separate dreams. Dave married a beautiful woman and
a successful video firm, Pat drove other musicians mad by forming his
own band, and created a beautiful son named Brian... We still loved each
other, but especially, Earl loved Pat, Dave loved Pat, I loved Pat. Pat
loved playing the piano, singing and barking at people who loved him.
can't go against your nature.
Pat Hall was admired by musicians and singers all around Chicago for his
talents, his wit, his charm, his humor, his intelligence, his anger, his
resentments, his jealousies, his all-the-time rough and tough words that
lacked any encouragement to be his friend...
When Pat took ill he quickly knew the show was over. Dave and Monica,
faithful to Pat, invited Pat to live with them. Pat decided not to stick
around here and moved on... We believe he went upstairs 'cause even
needs a Junk Yard Dog.
Junk Yard Dog, Junk Yard Dog, We Will All Miss Our Junk Yard Dog!!!
This is a drawing by Dennis Doherty
Four in the Mourning
Usually the two o’clock bars are fun;
The four o’clocks always close,
And your dreams get bigger
On the shores of lake Michigan.
And your bicycle is the fastest thing
going on Sheridan
Rolling north like a wrecking ball of
Wheels humming “Didn’t we laugh
Share the grapes of wrath together.”
And you’re lookin’ for a doorbell to
And a father to tell,
I’m her lifeguard, I only wish her well.
Last night we shared some laughs
You named her Katie, I call her Baby
And how many times I was you
And you were me?
And the wind’s blowin’ out
And Ernie wants the same damn song
Brother, I’ll always laugh, and I’ll
When I hear a piano tinkling in the
And a bicycle comes roaring by
Whispering, “Me naughty again.”
January 24, 2010