by Rhona (Wiglet Bill) Aquilina
Last weekend, July 7th, Dennis Flemion of The Frogs failed to resurface after going swimming on a boating trip with family and friends at Wind Lake, Racine, Wisconsin. He was finally recovered from the lake by authorities on July 10th after a lengthy search. He was 57 years old.
As something of a crazed Frogs fan I am devastated by this terrible news. The Frogs are unlike any other band I’ve ever known. Being a fan is genuinely and uniquely rewarding: not just because the band were comedically brilliant and musically phenomenal but because they treated their fans like personal friends. This is a particularly rich experience, for those of us who, through their records, feel a kinship with and deep respect for the band. I don’t think it’d be controversial to say that The Frogs never achieved the level of success their talent deserves and whilst this is a travesty it breeds a special kind of organic fandom, with a tendency towards militancy, as there was a period where no one could enter my flat without being forced to listen to a selection of Frogs songs in silence (I would allow laughter).
As a UK fan, opportunities to see The Frogs live were few and far between. Fortune smiled on me twice when, with the help of the incredible ATP Festival, I saw The Frogs play shows firstly at The Breeders curated ATP weekend in 2009 and then again in 2011 at the Animal Collective curated event.
At the Animal Collective ATP (the band was there to play their 1989 release It’s Only Right And Natural) I had the pleasure of spending some considerable time over the three day festival talking with the band, who were tirelessly manning their merchandise stand and demonstrating their notorious fan-friendliness. I was on crutches at the time and I remember that one of the first things Dennis said to me was that, despite it not being on the album, they were going to perform "Where’s Jerry Lewis?" from their 1996 record My Daughter the Broad in dedication, a song about a ‘lovely crippled boy’. Once I’d introduced my wife he decided that "Dykes Are We" was a better fit. He then took the time to sign a record for me and to carefully personalise a print I purchased from him, explaining that it was his artwork over a photograph he had taken of Jimmy. I’m truly grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with Dennis and the rest of the band that weekend and I’ll always treasure that experience.
Talking to Dennis, he made me feel like I was important to him, he was proud of The Frogs dedicated followers and he demonstrated this by making the fans he spoke to feel valued, he never rushed off when I approached him, and when I spoke he genuinely listened. The loss of such a sweet man is tragic. My sincerest sympathies are with Dennis’ family and friends.
This month the band released two new albums Count Yer Blessingsz and Squirrel Bunny Jupiter Deluxe both albums feature excellent artwork by Dennis Flemion. The albums are available from iTunes & CD Baby.