Two Venice Icons Pass at Age 72

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Venice, CA Icons Bill Mitchell and David Waller Pass

Bill Mitchell helped start the Venice BeachHead, and named it.

Bill Mitchell, Venice beach
to the right, Bill Mitchell

Bill Mitchell helped start the Venice BeachHead, and named it. He was Venice’s political orator supreme, standing on an old TV set on the Boardwalk announcing “This is Bill Mitchell on TV.” Bill could read-between the-lines profoundly. His radical activism was rooted in comprehensive awareness. His earthy laugh could touch you deep in your soul. Bill was the ultimate infectious agitator. I once asked him to summarize his life in three words all beginning with the same letter. He said, “Pot, pussy and politics.” In others words, “Get high, then fuck, then make the world a better place – re-EVOLUTION !” I produced Bill’s KPFK Pacifica Radio shows, Midnight Special Bookstore events and Public Cable Access TV shows. Thanks for all your love, laughs and revolution, Bill. You live on, Brother !


David Waller- venice, Motown Bassist
David Waller at age 62

David Waller, an amazing bass player for Motown, lived in the Rose Ave parking lot for years.

Another icon passed in March. David Waller, an amazing bass player for Motown, lived in the Rose Ave parking lot for years. He played the Apollo with David Ruffin of the Temptations. He told me the story of meeting Jimi Hendrix in an 18 minute interview. Watch it on YouTube: “David Waller Interview Motown Bass Player Venice CA” .

His love of music inspired many people, including several Boardwalk performers. “Without music and humor, we’d all be dead.” – David Waller.

Kudos David !


Bill & David taught me alot about courage in passionately pursuing the best of life. They both deserve extensive obits. I hope you’ll find me on the Boardwalk so we can discuss our memories of their never ending quests enriched us all.

FYI on Bill: https://patch.com/california/healdsburg/ elderly-man-reported-missing-forestville
FYI: MORE INFO on David Waller – https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7bwbkd/musicians-494-v17n8

Excerpt from Vice Magazine:

David Waller has a pedigree. At least he thinks it’s a possibility that he’s a distant relative of Fats Waller. His
grandmother and his aunts had pictures of Fats all over the place, and it was their love and admiration of the man that prompted David to pursue music in the first place. He started with the baritone horn.

His best friend growing up in the ghettos of Detroit was Marvin Marshall, whose mother had a beauty shop that happened to be halfway between the two Motown houses, and it was where their stable of stars would go to get their hair done. David and Marvin would hang out there in the afternoon, soaking in the cool. By then, David had moved on to the bass guitar, and he said all the young players had to learn that session style, the Motown Sound, note for note. “I hate to say it, but note for fucking note.”

Eventually, he hooked up with the right people and was granted entrée into that world of propitious splendor, Hitsville, USA, where he mixed with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, and the Jackson 5. In 14 years, he played with everyone on the Motown roster except for Stevie Wonder and the Supremes.Yet despite his great success, David has a certain ambivalence regarding the capricious finger of good fortune.

“If you’re not sharp, intellectual, not in the right clique, you don’t make it. I lucked out. I know ten or 15 guys who never got out of the garage, or some nightclub in Detroit. I went through ten passports.” The pinnacle of his success came when he was playing with the Temptations and they were invited to perform for the Queen of England at Royal Albert Hall. “And I was watching her in that far box,” he said and pointed his finger up toward the rooftops across the promenade, pausing to acknowledge that imaginary monarch. He dropped his hand and looked at me. “We fucked them up,” he said.

And even in recognizing that that is all now long in the past, he spread his hands as if to encompass the small plot of beachfront he and his friends had claimed for the day to jam and maybe make a little cash, and he said, “I feel truly blessed.” I should maybe mention that when I looked some of this stuff up, I couldn’t find anything to confirm what David had told me.

Maybe it’s a deficiency of my search heuristics, or my own time constraints, or laziness on the part of some Motown chroniclers. Motown was notorious for relegating session players to faceless obscurity, as did most hit factories of the day. But the way the memories played across his face as he relived them, I can’t help but believe every word this sweet man told me. And as Fats Waller himself would say, “One never knows, do one?”