Looney Bird

The Looney Bird was Billy Bob's sidekick who went from a mischievous 'gasaholic' to the 'tech-nerd bird'. He was always reliable for comic relief, and over the years was given quite the prominent position among Rock-afire characters - even outranking Billy Bob in terms of exposure in the 1990s.

The Looney Bird originated from the Hard Luck Bears show, his predecessor being essentially the same character who was named 'Gooney Bird'. Looney Bird was voiced by Aaron Fechter and in the early days had quite the insane personality. As you might expect, a character that lives in an old oil barrel would be a little tipsy - and Looney Bird was definitely tanked most of the time. Many shows gave reference to Looney siphoning away Billy Bob's 'gasahol' (sometimes referred to as 'Goofy Gas') which was meant to solve the woes of the second energy crisis of the late 1970s / early 1980s.

Looney Bird's animatronic was designed to accentuate his drunkenness as well. His eyes were often programmed to roll around in random directions with eyelids closing opposite of each other. He was also outfitted with a large spring that caused him to rock around when lifting out of his barrel.

By 1983 Looney Bird was retrofitted to have a set of hands that would also pop up holding a piece of paper. These were used for what became an ongoing skit titled "Letters to Looney Bird", in which he answered questions that people sent in. Inevitably these letters were themed to go along with whatever the current showtape happened to be.

By the mid-1980s Looney Bird's character was starting to change. He began to be known for his technical abilities and having a barrel full of gadgets. It was an odd juxtaposition, and this new personality was most likely based on Aaron Fechter's prospects at the time. In one show Looney Bird tells of his lifelong dream - to create a computer language that kids could use. Coincidentally, this was a project Aaron was actually working to achieve at the time with the Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine.

In the 1990s the New Rock-afire Explosion was developed with its smaller 'mijjin' sized characters. Whereas most of the characters appeared to be "forced" into this new show, Looney Bird seemed a natural fit. One could almost argue that this new show was developed around the Looney Bird. His 'tech-nerd' personality was given a true home - Looney was now dressed in a lab coat, seated at a desk with a computer covered in chicken feathers.

Shortly after the development of this new stage, the restaurant Looney Bird's was tested in Orlando, where Looney was the star of the concept. It was quite different having Looney Bird in the spotlight instead of Billy Bob who seems the natural choice, having been the successful mascot for 10 years at ShowBiz. Looney Bird was featured on tokens, t-shirts, and all sorts of merchandise. The concept spawned another two franchises (both now closed) although these later stores had the Classic Rock-afire stage.

Looney Bird's character has been active in recent years, due mainly to Aaron Fechter's continued involvement with the Rock-afire. Looney has appeared in the online 'Billy Bob's Newsblast' (2005-2006), private recordings made for fans, and also in new skits for the UK restaurant Hanna Banana.