Author/XM Show Host Bill Fitzhugh By Jamie O’Quinn
His quick wit, musical knowledge, and ability to write outside the traditional realm has spun an unusual niche in Hollywood for Jackson, Mississippi native Bill Fitzhugh.
Fitzhugh’s drawl adds to the already unique flavor of his weekly Deep Tracks - XM Channel 40 Satellite Radio show. Based on years of experience as a disc jockey in Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Seattle, Wash., his understanding of musical culture also influenced many of his eight highly acclaimed novels. Additionally, “Pest Control” sold in the US and abroad with film rights bought by Warner Bros. has been made into a $2 million musical with Tony Award-winning and Broadway actors.
Having started as a radio disc jockey while in high school in Jackson, Fitzhugh became inspired by Jimmy Buffett and later worked on a squalid freight-charter boat in the Virgin Islands. Upon his return home and to radio, he attended Belhaven College, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Washington where he graduated. Eventually he moved to Hollywood where he co-produced a syndicated radio program, co-wrote a screenplay opted for a television pilot, and wrote for NBC, Fox and BBC.
Currently residing in Los Angeles with his wife Kendall, Fitzhugh frequently travels back to visit family now located on the coast. He is currently promoting his new book “The Adventures of Slim and Howdy” which he wrote for country duo Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn.
I recently caught up with Bill as he was making plans for producing his 100th segment of “Fitzhugh’s All Hand-Mixed Vinyl” on Deep Tracks XM 40.
Q: I understand that there are only three people who have shows on XM Channel 40 who don’t work there: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and you. What makes your show unique?
A: “Sometimes I construct very complicated segues like one I found recently with a Vannelli and Yes record. I can play the first part of one record and segue into the second record and then back to the first again perfectly. It’s the element of surprise when you expect one lyric and suddenly you are trying to figure out when it actually changed to a totally different song.
Q: Bob Dylan not only crosses into your radio career but is the name of your main character in “Pest Control” which the Washington Post states is “offbeat, engaging, and very funny reading." Can you explain?
A: In “Pest Control“, the main character is a bug exterminator named Bob Dillon who is mistaken for a hit man. Throughout the book either the narrator or characters say something that turns out to be a line or title from a Bob Dylan song. I used the same concept in “The Organ Grinders” whose main character is Paul Symon and in “Cross Dressing” for the main character Dan Steele who uses Steely Dan lyrics.
Q: You used the same concept when writing “The Adventures of Slim and Howdy” which country duo Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn had you write based on characters of their alter egos. What was that like?
A: Kix and Ronnie started putting little stories of Slim and Howdy inside their CD covers. They had me write a novel based on the characters. Most of it is fiction but they gave me a lot of true stories about themselves that I incorporated into the characters. In addition, they let me use their song lyrics and titles throughout like I had done in my previous four books.
Q: Your novel “Pest Control” has been made into a musical and is currently showing in LA. What’s it like seeing your novel made into a musical?
A: I knew they would change things. As I watch, I try to figure out how one change is going to effect everything else plus they have added 26 original songs. I’ve seen it several times now and I love it. Just like when you sell your house, you can’t complain if they change it to a different color.
For more information on Bill Fitzhugh you may go to billfitzhugh.com. Hollywood South is a syndicated column.
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