Michael Winslow, the “Man of 10,000 Sound Effects”, Impersonates the Sounds of Jimi Hendrix’s and Led Zeppelin’s Electric Guitars with His Voice

Even if you weren’t a huge fan of the Police Acad­e­my movies, there was one char­ac­ter that made them watch­able: Larvell Jones, played by Michael Winslow, “The Man of a 10,000 Sound Effects.” His char­ac­ter is a sort of odd­ball pres­ence through­out the series, whose abil­i­ty to sound like a siren, a machine gun, a guard dog, or any num­ber of things, invari­ably helps his team save the day. He’s been the only con­sis­tent char­ac­ter through all eight entries of the movie series, a brief tele­vi­sion spin-off, and an ani­mat­ed car­toon series. And I dare say he’s the fran­chise’s rea­son to exist, as a Police Acad­e­my with­out Larvell Jones would be…what? A bunch of crap­py cops?

And while you might think of him as a mas­ter of machine nois­es, Winslow is actu­al­ly a very musi­cal per­former, as his above impres­sion of Jimi Hen­drix, both vocals and gui­tar, proves. Winslow was an army brat, moved all over the place, and his imi­ta­tion skills devel­oped at an ear­ly age, a cop­ing mech­a­nism for a lone­ly child­hood. He kept at it, and made it onto The Gong Show in 1978. The prize mon­ey allowed him to stay in Los Ange­les and start mak­ing the club rounds. He got scout­ed for Police Acad­e­my while open­ing for the Count Basie Orches­tra, per­form­ing “some fusion jazz sounds,” as he described it in an inter­view. For­tu­nate­ly, the film­mak­ers let him impro­vise through his scenes and his career took off from there.

As the clips here show, Winslow can jam hard. His Hen­drix impres­sion is a lit­tle bit stoned, and he gets the voice right. With a back­ing band on tape, he goes on to pro­vide the vocals and the dis­tort­ed, flanged gui­tar. You can see that lit­tle has changed from the ver­sion from the ‘80s at the Just for Laughs Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val in Mon­tre­al, Cana­da, and a 2011 per­for­mance from the Dubom­e­dy Inter­na­tion­al Per­form­ing Arts Fes­ti­val in Dubai. The lat­ter has bet­ter sound qual­i­ty and sep­a­ra­tion so you can hear Winslow’s work.

His Led Zep­pelin impres­sion com­bines both Robert Plant and Jim­my Page, and I won’t spoil the joke, but Winslow explains how Plant came up with “Immi­grant Song.”

And there’s no sound effects involved in his Tina Turn­er impres­sion, but a good wig, and an impres­sive set of pipes that only get wob­bly a few times. But then again, so do his legs.

Side note: Before Winslow there was a come­di­an called Wes Har­ri­son, who had a sim­i­lar tal­ent and a sim­i­lar rise to star­dom: from tal­ent show win­ner to a reg­u­lar guest on late night shows in the 1960s to a steady stream of night­club appear­ances.

In 1988, the two men, sep­a­rat­ed by 35 years, per­formed togeth­er on a Dick Clark vari­ety show. It is per­haps the only time the two shared a stage.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load an Archive of 16,000 Sound Effects from the BBC: A Fas­ci­nat­ing His­to­ry of the 20th Cen­tu­ry in Sound

The Sounds of Blade Run­ner: How Music & Sound Effects Became Part of the DNA of Rid­ley Scott’s Futur­is­tic World

How the Sound Effects on 1930s Radio Shows Were Made: An Inside Look

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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