Although known primarily for founding and fronting the legendary garage “revivalists”, THE FUZZTONES, Rudi has actually been performing since 1966, when he formed his first Rock & Roll band, KING ARTHUR'S QUART.
Rudi spent his teen years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, playing in local bands. After seeing a particularly inspired show by the DEAD BOYSat NYC’s CBGB in 1976 , Rudi convinced Dead Boys frontman STIV BATORS to let him audition as bassist. Although Rudi did actually play one show with The Dead Boys (on the same bill as DAVID JOHANSEN, PATTI SMITH, BLONDIE, RICHARD HELL and SUICIDE!), a future with the band was not his fate. He returned to Harrisburg and formed TINA PEEL, Harrisburg’s (and possibly the World’s) only Bubblegum-Punk band. Heavily influenced by The Monkees, Cryan’ Shames, 1910 Fruitgum Company and Dave Clark 5, TINA PEEL eventually moved to NYC where they became a popular attraction, often headlining the major clubs of the time (Hurrah, Irving Plaza, Ritz, CBGB), as well as appearing on several television shows, including the cult favorite, THE UNCLE FLOYD SHOW. Although the band was courted by major labels, and enjoyed frequent press, TINA PEEL broke up in 1980, when founding members RUDI and DEB O’ NAIR went on to form THE FUZZTONES. Generally regarded as the most important, if not the most notorious, of the 80’s garage pioneers, THE FUZZTONES were among the first to release vinyl (their first two LPs, “LEAVE YOUR MIND AT HOME” and “LYSERGIC EMANATIONS” are considered classics). They also performed and recorded with legendary 50’s R&B shouter, SCREAMIN’ JAY HAWKINS. Perhaps the most important contribution the band made, however, was to be the first of the revivalists to introduce the 60’s garage/ psych sound to a European audience. In 1985, the band endured a grueling 3 month tour where they opened for THE DAMNED. Although THE FUZZTONES headlined several shows of their own as well, it was the shows with the English bad boys of Goth Punk that brought them to the attention of the European masses. Considering how popular THE FUZZTONES became soon after, it’s hard to believe that at the time a typical show would consist of the punk audience pelting the band with beer bottles and showering them with “gob” ( a punk term for spit). The ‘TONES performed 28 days a month for three months, and eventually won over the DAMNED’s fans. That was not to imply that it was ever smooth sailing for THE FUZZTONES. Rudi was actually shot at during a show in Lyon, France, and Deb was sucker-punched unconscious by The Damned’sdrummer, RAT SCABIES (in front of Jimmy Page, so less), during an offstage argument. After returning to the States, The Fuzztones broke up, right at the height of their popularity. In 1986 Rudi formed LINK PROTRUDI & THE JAYMEN, originally an instrumental tribute to LINK WRAY (back when very few knew who he was!). The band soon advanced to writing many of their own songs, and recorded several albums. They succesfully toured Europe and Canada, and still pop up occasionally to back burlesque legends such as TEMPEST STORM and KITTEN NATIVIDAD. At one point in his career, LINK WRAY himself used Protrudi’s Jaymen as his own backing band!
In 1987, Rudi and drummer “MAD” MIKE moved to Los Angeles, where they reformed THE FUZZTONES. Ironically the new lineup consisted almost entirely of transplanted New Yorkers. This line-up was the ONLY garage "revival" band to land a major record deal (“IN HEAT” on RCA/ Beggars Banquet), and toured Europe frequently, often headlining festivals for up to 20,000 screaming fans. It was also this line-up that earned the moniker, the “PAISLEY PUSSY POSSE” for their offstage antics, which were often even wilder than their onstage hormone blast! “To me, Rock & Roll is like a primitive mating call..” Rudi has been quoted as saying, “...It’s a form of RELEASE...like an orgasm...releasing teen angst.” THE FUZZTONES officially ended their 13 year career in 1992, after a succesful tour of Israel. Rudi went on to other projects, including recording with SKY SAXON (singer of 60’s garage icons, THE SEEDS), producing other bands, recording his first solo LP in 1993 (“WHITE TRASH”, his foray into psycho-country music, predating MIKE NESS by several years), and performing and recording with THE JAYMEN. In 1994, LINK PROTRUDI & THE JAYMEN recorded “SEDUCTION”, a lounge-a-delic slice of Exotica, with strong Middle Eastern overtones, predating the Lounge Music fad and MADONNA’s (and PLANT & PAGE’s) dabbling with the Mid Eastern genre.
In 1996, the renowned reissue label SUNDAZED released " FLASHBACKS," a "best of The Fuzztones" collection, making THE FUZZTONES the first non-60's band to be released by the label. In 1997, Rudi succesfully reformed the “IN HEAT” line-up of THE FUZZTONES and performed sporadic shows in L.A. and NYC including CAVESTOMP ‘97 (where FLESHTONES vocalist, PETER ZAREMBA, joined them onstage as a go-go dancer!) and a co-headlining show with QUESTION MARK & THE MYSTERIANS. In 1998 Rudi reformed the ORIGINAL NYC LINE-UP of THE FUZZTONES (with DEB O’ NAIR) to play CAVESTOMP ‘98. This was the first time they’d played together in 13 years! The band was joined onstage by VANILLA FUDGE’s guitarist VINNIE MARTELL for a rousing version of “Psychotic Reaction,” which climaxed by an impromptu striptease from Rudi! The NYC line-up donned their Vox Phantom guitars once more in 1999 when they played the INDIAN BIKER FESTIVAL in Matera, Italy. Rudi also toured Italy and Germany with Italy’s garage heroes THE OTHERS as backing band. Consequently, Italy’s top Garage ‘zine and record label, MISTY LANE, released the album “Yellow, Green & Purple”, a solo record of sorts featuring RUDI backed by THE OTHERS on one side, and GONN vocalist CRAIG MOORE backed by the band on the other. At the Misty Lane festival in Rome in 2000, Rudi joined 60’s legends the CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND onstage for a wailing “Don’t Need Your Lovin’.
Rudi continued his solo with a consequent European tour backed by Spain's NUGGETS and occasional Midwest shows with Chicago's CROOKSHANKS. He officially reformed The FUZZTONES in 2000 and they have been successfully touring Europe ever since. In 2004 they backed PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS frontman MARK LINDSAY on a mini-tour of Greece! Their last studio album, “SALT FOR ZOMBIES” received rave reviews, and selections have been featured on the international Rock ‘n’ Roll radio show, LITTLE STEVEN’S UNDERGROUND GARAGE, where their version of “Don’t Blow Your Mind” made #2 in the annual Underground Garage listener poll as “Coolest Song In The World.” Rudi has also recorded 2 solo albums in the (admittedly bent) classic Country mode, and is the only Rock & Roll artist who has covered artists as diverse as PATSY CLINE, PAT BOONE, KORLA PANDIT, TSCHAIKOWSKY, GERSHWIN, DAVID ROSE, BOBBY DARIN and BLACK OAK ARKANSAS.
2003 found COURTNEY LOVE playing FUZZTONES videos on MTV, remarking that THE STROKES were influenced by THE FUZZTONES, “even if they don’t know it.” THE FUZZTONES were one of the headlining acts at the LITTLE STEVEN UNDERGROUND GARAGE FESTIVAL at Randall’s Island in NY Aug. 14th, 2004, which featured, among others, rock legends IGGY & THE STOOGES, N.Y. DOLLS, ELECTRIC PRUNES, CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND, and the PRETTY THINGS, as well as current hitmakers THE STROKES. The concert was filmed by director CHRIS COLUMBUS (Mrs Doubtfire, Harry Potter, Home Alone) with the intention of a major motion picture release. Meanwhile, "SALT FOR ZOMBIES" has been released on vinyl by Italy's TEEN SOUND label, and licensed for international CD release by Germany's TRIBAL STOMP, and Italy's ABRAXAS label has recently released LSD25 (a double CD/DVD "Best of The Fuzztones" collection), as well as reissued Leave Your Mind At Home, Live in Europe, and Live with Screamin' Jay Hawkins on vinyl. The new RHINO compilation, "CHILDREN OF NUGGETS," features the classic Fuzztones anthem, "Bad News Travels Fast." Rudi claims to be the "World's Oldest Teenager," and in fact It would be hard to imagine rockers half his age keeping up with the pace Rudi sets for himself. Never content to rest on past laurels, he’s always onto the next project. He is a featured writer for CLUB INTERNATIONAL, and a gifted artist, having provided album graphics for all FUZZTONES albums, as well as the 60’s Garage compilation series, “SIXTIES REBELLION.” He's even responsible for the cover art for the ELECTRIC PRUNES album,"CALIFORNIA," one of their later outings. Rudi is currently working on his autobiography, to be entitled "PISSING IN THE WIND(the story of my life). His online cd label, SIN, offers at least 28 FUZZTONES related releases, with more on the way(www.fuzztones.net)!
RUDI HAS PLAYED WITH:
1. Screamin' Jay Hawkins
2. Lydia Lunch & The Devil Dogs
4. The Dead Boys
5. Peter Stampfel (ex-Fug and Holy Modal Rounder)
6. Billy Idol
7. Ian Astbury (Doors, Cult)
8. Ann Magnuson (Ann's heavy metal satire band, Vulcan Death Grip, appears in her Cinemax special, Vandemonium and performs 2 songs co-written by Rudi.)
9. Big Sandy
10. The Unholy Modal Rounders
11. Sean Bonniwell and Ron Edgar (as Music Machine 2001)
12. Arthur Lee
13. The Miracle Workers
14. The Chocolate Watchband
15. Craig Moore (Gonn)
16. The Surfaris
17. Vinny Martell (Vanilla Fudge)
18. Mark Lindsay (former lead singer for Paul Revere & The Raiders)
19. Pretty Things
20. Syl Sylvain (N.Y. Dolls)
21. Davie Allan
22. The Damned
23. Marky Ramone
24. Jeff Salen (Sparks, Tuff Darts)
25. Mars Bonfire
26. Tempest Storm
27. Dixie Evans
28. Andy Shernoff & Ross The Boss (Dictators)
29. The Headhunters
(members of the Fuzztones, Tommyknockers and Groovie Ghoulies)
RUDI HAS BEEN IN THE FOLLOWING FILMS
1. Night Tour (lead role as a vampire)
2. Chelsea Barracks (small speaking role)
2. I Put A Spell On You (featured interviewee)
4. The Doors (extra)
5. Ann Magnuson's Vandemonium (Cinemax TV special)
Rudi appears as "K-Zar" with havy metal satire band, Vulcan Death Grip
6. Real Sex (HBO TV special on Exotic World)
Link Protrudi & The Jaymen perform
RUDI'S MUSIC HAS APPEARED IN THE FOLLOWING FILMS
2. The Unknown Dog
3. Real Sex (HBO TV documentary on "Exotic World")
4. Ann Magnuson's Vandemonium (Cinemax TV special)