Aspen gets its Fisher fix Friday
Aspen will celebrate one of its most famous, if not most irreverent, citizens with Friday’s birthday bash in honor of Freddie Fisher.It would have been Fisher’s 101 birthday on June 12 (he died in 1967), but his legend lives on in Aspen and elsewhere. Last year, Aspen native Greg Poschman organized a 100th birthday party in Fisher’s memory and it looks like the shindig could turn into an annual happening. Swiping the promotional posters could be come an annual event, as well. Folks liked last year’s so much, it was difficult to keep them posted. It could be the same story this year; Poschman has designed a new version.Fisher came to Aspen in 1952 and opened a fix-it shop, Fisher the Fixer, on Main Street, where Gusto and Asie are now located. Longtime locals recall it as a combination junkyard and inventor’s shop. Fisher was apparently loath to see anything thrown away. One of his advertisements advised, “Don’t take your things to the dump. Bring them here direct. – Fisher the Fixer.”
He’d left behind a career as a famous bandleader – of Freddie Fisher and his Schnickelfritz Band – in the 1930s and ’40s, with more than 200 recordings and at least 15 Hollywood movie appearances to his credit. He combined virtuosity on the clarinet with comedy.Fisher entertained Aspen with his musicianship and his wit; the latter infused his many letters to the editor, printed in local newspapers. In 1964, he was presented with the first and only Letters to the Editor award by the Colorado Press Association.An excerpt from a 1965 Fisher letter: Dear Editor: Had you not included a caption for the pictorial entitled, “The Many Faces of Freddie Fisher” in last week’s Aspen News, I might well have mistaken the same for an ad featuring a desperation sale on live bait.Friday’s party at the Onion, co-organized by the Aspen Historical Society, will feature the presentation of the first annual Freddie Fisher Irreverent Wit Prize (aka the Fish Wit) to the writer of the best letter to a Roaring Fork Valley newspaper, High Country News or the Mountain Gazette. The prize will be handed out at 6 p.m.
“The idea is to recognize well-written, witty – in Fisher’s vein – letters to the editor,” Poschman said. “We’re going to give it a try to see what kind of response we get.” Anyone who thinks they’ve penned a particularly clever letter to the editor, published in the past two years, may submit a copy to Poschman at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 8. A secret panel of reportedly distinguished judges will select the winner.The party will also feature happy hour prices from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.; anecdotes about Fisher – at least those than can be told in mixed company; recordings by Fisher and the Schnickelfritz Band; and video clips assembled by Poschman, a filmmaker.”The big idea is to make a film about him,” Poschman said. “I’ve been collecting material to do a documentary.”In addition, pianist Walt Smith and his bandmates will perform on the Cooper Avenue mall outside the Red Onion. Other musicians are welcome to sit in and jam. Smith is a pianist who performed regular gigs at the Hotel Jerome bar with Fisher and others, back in the day.
Though Fisher died nearly 40 years ago, his audience remains. Try Googling “Fisher Schnickelfritz” and see what comes up.”There are people who are big fans of his all over the country,” Poschman observed.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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