Gay rights activist windi earthworm died in 1993, but his music remains. A handful of recorded public performances give us access to his colourful personality and deeply-felt political convictions.
On the memorial website: “There’s a Fire Truck on My Ceiling: Windi Earthworm Remembered,” one can download three albums worth of music and spoken word performances. windi whoops, trills, and yowls in his songs; his compositions are energetic and attention-grabbing.
An active participant in the politics of the day, windi’s compositions are combative, inspired, and filled with stories of repression from state actors who have targeted “the earthworm” as enemy. windi’s cross-dressing made him both a memorable and transgressive street musician—he had a following in every city he blew into, including 1970s Calgary. windi had a keen sense of injustice, which fuelled most of his lyrics.
His friend, Rex Leonard, remembers windi as a complete extravert seeking cultural influence through his music. Rex mused as much as windi was an anti-establishment activist, he also was in awe of the rock scene and one day hoped to be a star: “I’m not Boy George,” windi quips in a performance in Montreal, “I’m Boy Worm.” windi has particular animus for the glam rocker, David Bowie, who he feels betrayed by. “Is it true you’re not gay, what’s a matter Bowie—don’t it pay?” he sings.
We’ve previously written about windi and Anita Bryant. You can listen to windi’s own recollection of meeting Anita in the preamble to his song Jumper in the Metro.
In 2014, an episode of Montreal’s CKUT Queer Corps radio show featured interviews, news clips, and the music of windi earthworm. Now a podcast on Soundcloud, the episode illuminates windi’s impact on Montreal and his legacy there.