Mikey Wild wasn’t his real name. He stuck out in a crowd and many a lady has found herself the object of his earnest affection. While a younger man he was very active in the music scene and spent a lot of time on South Street. As he matured he hung out in his family neighborhood aroundÂ 9th street’s Italian Market where he hung out and made and sold artwork.
This was a difficult post for me to make.
Mikey Wild in the early 90s doing on his signature songs, I was punk before you were punk, punk
Mikey performing at his own benefit show doing Zombies in the Basement one of the “scary psychedelic” songs he favored later in life
Mikey Wild, 56, punk rocker and South St. mainstay
May 26, 2011|By Sally A. Downey, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Michael A. DeLuca, 56, a punk rocker, artist, and South Street institution known as “Mikey Wild,” died of lung cancer Wednesday, May 25, at Penn Rittenhouse Hospice in Philadelphia.
Mr. DeLuca, who was mentally handicapped, left his residential school at 18, returned home to South Philadelphia, and began to spend his days on South Street. He was soon singing at JC Dobbs Bar with the Magic Lantern, the Mess, and other bands, sometimes jumping onstage when others were performing.
A huge Beatles fan, Mr. DeLuca sang a raucous version of “Day Tripper.” Other favorites included “Die, Die, Die,” “I was Punk Before You Were a Punk, Punk,” and “I Hate New York,” which was recorded as a single. He was the subject of several YouTube videos.
Recently local filmmaker Isaac Williams produced a half-hour movie, Paying the Price, featuring Mr. DeLuca, who played two roles: Vincent Price, his favorite actor, and Price’s twin brother, Brandon. “Michael always loved horror movies,” said his mother, Gloria DeLuca.
Unlike what happened to others with similarly troubled minds in pop, nobody ever tried to take advantage of him, said A.D. Amorosi, a friend who writes about music for The Inquirer. “Nobody wanted to exploit Mikey. They only sought collaboration. They only wanted to pay respect to the guy they knew from hanging around South Street,” Amorosi said.
A heavy smoker, Mr. DeLuca quit when he was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, his mother said. Though he continued to practice with a band, Scareho, he had less energy for singing and painted more, she said. He used colored markers to draw giant lizards and abstract portraits of a variety of characters, including Vincent Price and Santa Claus.