You know his music from the band Fisher; from tv shows like "Hot in Cleveland" and "Sponge Bob Square Pants," and from commercials and multiple video games. You REALLY know his music from "The Power Rangers.” His name is Ron Wasserman and he is the husband of Kathy Fisher, the other half of the duo "Fisher" (Lucky Bastard!!!). Wasserman has performed with quite a catalog of musicians and bands over the years, going as far back as high school bands with Matt Sorum of Guns & Roses. His stories of celebrities and his interactions with them are at best surreal. Some will make you laugh, others are difficult to hear. He knows the music industry and licensing laws on intellectual property, and in that regard, he is the world's greatest chess player.
One of my favorite productions of Ron's is a version of Aerosmith's “Dream On” which "Fisher" performed live at the Earth Day Festival in Boston in 2001. Ballsy isn’t even the word. They did this on Aerosmith’s home turf in front of 30 thousand people. Not only did they nail it, Steven Tyler would have bowed down and kissed Kathy’s feet, stating that she was the one destined to sing that song.
Like his wife, Ron is also a passionate LGBTQ ally, and gives great insights into the good and bad of the LGBT community in Hollywood. Finally able to get in touch with him while he was dodging the fires in the Thousand Oaks area this past November, we had a “catch up” conversation.
JH: So, Ron, it's been a while! I have heard Kathy’s voice on commercials everywhere, but sadly, I have not seen a single episode of your show, “Hot in Cleveland”. How are things on the show front?
RW: Ah, well, busy. Busy enough to be happy, and at times overloaded. “Hot in Cleveland” was a fun show to create music for – a lot of fun. They honestly had at least two more good seasons, but they decided to end it on a great high point. It was a shame, but they were graceful about it. Too many shows drag out too long, and you WANT THEM TO DIE. When it comes to the life of any show, you can start on the pilot, film a few episodes, and you know early on that it's going to do well or tank. I just do my job, but I've been on set in the middle of shooting, and someone from corporate will come in WHILE SHOOTING and tell everyone, "Go home; it's over."
Wow, waste of time and money. Be glad you weren’t in the business when “Cop Rock” was on for that half episode. Did you think that when you got involved with the “Power Rangers” because we both know they weren't cool (inside joke, I have teased him about that for years).
That was a very long time ago, and yes, I really did wonder where it would go. It was very successful, and I had fun doing it, and it was steady work for a long time, even if the show itself was pretty bad. I really refined my skills there as a composer, and not just as a songwriter.
Ron Wasserman's 2012 album of re-worked music from
the hit '90s TV series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Power Rangers Redux – Go Go Power Rangers
So, what new surprises can we expect from you in the future? I mean, I don’t watch tv, but you have mentioned a few projects recently.
Nothing I can talk about, at the moment, but I have two video game projects that I am VERY excited about.
Kathy told me that Fisher is done with touring /live concerts…well, for the duration of parenthood.
I hate to say it, but yes. I know you have been taunting us to get on the road again – and that would be fun – but financially, and from a parenting perspective, it's not worth it for us. The last time we performed as "Fisher", we were standing in front of the German parliamentary officials and Chancellor. THAT was unreal! Like you said, Mozart and Beethoven were invited to do those kinds of performances. Our son was just a toddler at the time, and taking him to Germany and working artists took a lot out of us. We knew then and there that we weren't going to be able to raise him with stability and travel at the same time. I'm happy for now in the studio and on tv show sets.
Will you be creating any new music, or maybe trying to get another radio hit or something?
Last time I saw you guys was the Uppers and Downers tour at House of Blues in Boston. Remember when you guys were bantering about Kathy in West Virginia as a teenager – being all needy and saying “I love you” to every guy she shook hands with? And then I yelled “Is this a concert or group therapy”? And you both said “Yeah this is group therapy. This is where we sort our shit out, in front of everyone.”
I so remember that night- it was great! Yeah, we like to banter on stage. We originally had the “Roles” of Kathy being the charismatic front woman/singer, whom everyone knows and loves, while I was the quiet piano player behind her (who could drive to the store in my Prius without being noticed). But the more we toured, the more I found myself really enjoying the back and forth with her.
Those were good times, but, in retrospect, it was right to pack it in when we did – we did it gracefully.
We had enough work going on, and we could say that we really did pull off some great things; things most bands never get the opportunities to do.
Total rework-remix of Fisher's "On My Way"
for the upcoming video game "The Nothing" to be released in 2019-2020.
I want to talk about your to “Almost Superstar” phase, when you had hit that million dollar mark for the downloaded song “I Will Love You”, and you were licensing it out to everyone. I remember you telling the story of it being licensed for a benefit cd for an AIDS awareness group. Tell me about that.
Honestly, at that time, if it was a cause we supported, we licensed it out. To our surprise, a lot of people wanted access to the song, and it was powerful to so many people, but we never saw ourselves as stars. We felt like the whole thing was a fluke – to have been so successful – surreal even. I'll never forget the day that we were on our way to a radio station interview in San Diego, and they played "I Will Love You" on the radio. It was the first time that we'd ever heard ourselves on the radio – as we were driving to the interview. I can’t tell you how mind-bending that was. We knew we were on our way to a new level of things at that point. All our hard work had paid off, and it became much bigger than we ever thought possible.
My best friend Chelsi sang "I Will Love You" at my wedding. She was my “Best Man” and she knew I had listened to it a lot (along with all the albums, but that one bit her too). I was not expecting it, but she did it for us, and of course I sobbed. It was pretty emotional. My wife and I still feel that song is almost sacred.
I’ve heard that story so many times – long after we thought that song had run its course- and all I can say is that I’m happy it touched so many people. Again, that song, opening Earth Day in Boston, performing for the German Parliament and Chancellor, now doing TV shows and producing… it doesn’t get better than that.
You and I seem to know a lot of the same types of people. I know it's a business for them, and some are smart about it while others not. Without saying any names, I’ve seen a lot of people start to get a bit of a good bump in their careers, only to lose control and go crazy. Do you see many going “Danger Boy”, where they are not able to tell the difference between stardom and stupidity?
What’s a “Danger Boy?”
Ah… A term we had for guys in theater… I thought it was universal. We knew guys who, right out of high school or into college, landed a recording contract or small acting deal, and coincidentally came out at the same time. They got some screen time, or some airplay, and they went crazy. When I was that same age, these guys seemed to think along the lines of either "Go crazy, 'cause I'm going to die anyway, and no one will ever love me" OR, "This is my ticket!" and go live off the rails for a while.
I was surprised to see all these Mormon kids come out, and a year later see them on a sitcom or on Broadway, or as a backup vocalist for god knows who. I'd think that it was great for them, ‘til I'd see them on cocaine and living very dangerously. I know it's not as much like that these days, but do you still see it?
Oh, God, yes, it's still happening, just… more money and more cocaine for sure. I have seen a lot of great, talented people crash, end up in rehab, tossed out by their partners. It's terrible. But I have had to tell people in my own life that I have been friends with – helped out- that I do not want them around my family. It's unfortunate but, yes, show business has its dark side- always will.
This is the first 'musical' number I've ever written.
I'm beyond thrilled with how it turned out.
Orbitz It's A Great Big World
Is the LGBT community as stigmatized, even with the stereotypes? I mean, it is Hollywood right?
Well, there is a lot of “yes” and “no” to that. In terms of back then versus now- you have straight guys playing gay characters, like Eric Stonestreet in “Modern Family” and Eric McCormack in “Will and Grace”, and that’s "fine and acceptable." BUT then you still have these guys who are gay, I mean, in their personal lives, they are “flaming gay,” but in the closet because they play these tough guys. There are still a lot of badass tough guy roles being played by closeted gay men. It's strange and sad; they can’t be themselves, because their image still depends on them being straight.
I was out one night with the cast and producers of “Hot in Cleveland”. We were all just hanging out, and it was great to see these women with their wives, and men with their husbands, talking about who was going to pick up the car from the shop in the morning…Or who was taking the dog to the vet…or “Did you remember to pay our insurance?” Even though it was a "gay bar," at the end of the day, they were all just everyday people with the same hassles that the rest of us deal with. I wish that could be reflected more in the way people in the industry are portrayed to the public.
I remember watching Ellen’s sitcom a few times. I didn’t think it was a big deal that she was a lesbian; I think it got canceled just because it was not really that funny. I mean, I tried man, it just did not make me laugh much.
Again Jeremy, Hit and Miss with shows. But,
The Rock Hudson story all over again?
Exactly, Hollywood in general is fine with it, but the “entertainment consumers” are not ready for the truth about the way people truly are. I mean, I can look at these guys and laugh, 'cause in many cases, they aren’t fooling anyone. Then there was that one Heavy Metal band XXXXXXXXXX, I remember seeing them live and I thought “Wow that guy is the gayest man I have ever seen on a stage.” His getup was clearly over the top flamboyant, and people think that was his personality to be that wild on stage. NO, that guy was telling everyone he is gay, or just trying to act straight, and failing at it. He still has not come out, and I feel bad for the guy, he still thinks the heavy metal world will not accept him.
The Rob Halford story then?
You know it, but, Halford is visibly much happier being open about it, not that he was trying to hide it, he just is happier now in his identity. I wish that the “consumers” of the entertainment would be more willing to accept it. Though for too many people, it would be seen as career suicide to come out. People need to just get over it on both sides and accept the fact that a person's sexuality DOES NOT MATTER.
True. When I found out that Halford was gay, I went back over it all, the only thing I realized was the video for “Breaking the Law” was just as silly now as it was before I knew he was gay.
So, when you were working on “Spongebob,” aside from them being annoying, did people know that Spongebob and Patrick were gay?
That was AWESOME, and, no, actually Spongebob and Patrick were … yes annoying, but just best friends. Squidward, his nextdoor neighbor, was gay. The writers were all laughing about that. They were getting letters of complaint every week about the “obvious” homosexuality undertones between Spongebob and Patrick, and they were wrong. Plenty of laughs at that, because no one really noticed the jokes coming from Squidward, and that one was pretty obvious. We had a lot of fun on that show. Nickelodeon never said a word.
Really? Wow, I had nephews and we watched a few episodes; I missed that. I mean, nothing like … Remember “HE-MAN” in my day? That guy was pretty obvious, once I got older. I think it was fine for the creators of these shows to do that, put clearly gay characters out there, even if it was a joke on the viewers so the kids growing up, that were trying to figure it out, could have something to identify with. Though they might not have seen it all.
Again, it's a day to day thing – every day the line between “us and them” is fading. Kathy and I have tried to be a supportive influence to people trying to sort it out for themselves. We have worked with and loved so many people from the LGBT community throughout our personal lives and careers.
How do you see that imaginary line vanishing?
That’s a hard one. Like I've said, both sides need to be able to just accept the fact that a person's sexuality does not matter. A gay man can play the tough badass, and shows shouldn’t be seen as “on the edge” to have LGBT characters. The studios, producers, and consumers are having to find a way to do this; it's just going to take a while. Each step is a positive move when people can see LGBT people as normal, boring, and for the most part, like anyone else.
Well Ron, Thanks for the chat – good to catch up! I look forward to hearing about another show you are doing, that I probably won’t watch. Nothing personal.
No offense taken, Thanks.
X-Men Theme Song (90's)
An indie GONZO music journalist in Salt Lake City, and an Anarchist behind the Zion Curtain. Jeremy Hinks is an obnoxious Type-A Male, who is embarrassingly straight and a staunch LGBTQ Ally with little tact, and a big heart. He has supported his LGBTQ friends since he was a teenager.
He has photographed on multiple tours U2, The English Beat, Peter Hook & The Light, and is somehow making a name for himself photographing Pink Floyd Tribute bands, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Britfloyd, Dead Floyd. He is one of the photographers for the LOVELOUD Foundation in Utah, an organization to bring awareness and support for the young LGBT community in Utah, and to bring an end to the epidemic of suicides there.
He also drives a Vespa, and wears kilts, is rarely seen wearing pants, should be considered armed and dangerous, so do not approach without extreme caution.