Offbeat L.A.: Harry Perry- The Guitar Playing, Rollerskating, Turban Wearing Kosmic Krusader of Venice Beach

Harry Perry the Kosmic Krusader on Venice Beach (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

Harry Perry, the Kosmic Krusader of Venice Beach (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

This April marked the 40th anniversary that Harry Perry, the legendary Kama Kosmic Krusader has been performing his lovingly bizarre feedback-filled songs to tourists and locals alike on the Venice Boardwalk. At first mention of his name, many scratch their heads in puzzlement. Harry Perry? Kama Kosmic Krusader? Who? But when given a little nudge… “Ohhhh, that guitar playing, roller skating, turban- wearing guy who sings songs about space aliens in Venice!?! He’s been there FOREVER!!!!”

Harry Perry (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

Harry Perry (photo by Nikki Kreuzer)

In fact, Harry’s story began in Detroit, Michigan when he was 19 years old and auditioned for a local production of the musical Hair. “I lined up with about 5,000 other kids. Ever hear of Meatloaf? Well he was in that crowd too… We got in. They liked the Detroit show so they used it for the touring Bus & Trunk show. It went all over. I’m a superstar, I think…

“So I’m playing at the Rainbow parking lot. All the rockstars are there. 1974. And this other kid, Craig, from Detroit says, ‘You gotta go to the beach!’ I say, ‘Dude, I’m not going to the beach, we’re at the RAINBOW. This is HOLLYWOOD, man. I’m not going to the beach.’” 

So after much arguing and convincing from his friend, Harry was finally persuaded to take a public bus from West Hollywood to Venice Beach. When he got there he was shocked to find that it was crowded and fun. He and his buddy played guitar with a pignose amp that they loaded with 6 rechargeable batteries. “In 1974 when people gave you two bucks they were giving you real money. My girlfriend worked at Macy’s and with commissions she only made $100 a week. A week! We came down here and at the end of the day made $100. The next morning I woke up, ‘Come on Craig, we’re going to the beach!’ He was stoned, he couldn’t get up. The second day I came down by myself.”

In about 1976 his friend Alice bought Harry a pair of roller skates, thinking that would make his working day a little easier and help him cover more ground. His first skates were bright blue, a color offensive to Harry, who preferred basic black. “She got me blue swede skates and I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, I put them on and wore them for a long time. At first I was falling. I couldn’t skate you know, it was crazy. But then I got got into it. I was skating.” 

The turban was added to the repertoire in the mid-’70′s as well. “I was doing sessions with this bass player who I was songwriting with. He said, ‘we need to do something different in this session. Let’s go do yoga.’ That’s what got me started in kundalini yoga. It was a metamorphosis. I kept going back and practicing that yoga. They gave me the turban and I started wearing it. Just ’cause. Why not? It looked cool.”

By 1979-1980 Harry started making records and selling them to the tourists on Venice Beach who he performed for. “I went to Corlick’s in Hollywood and made little 45′s. We were trying to create a hit record and get started down here. All kinds of people were down here, you know.” This led to a certain notoriety for Harry. He began to be used in cameo appearances in many TV shows and movies to establish the quintessential L.A. setting.

The Kosmic Krusader and the author (photo by Candy Lynn)

The Kosmic Krusader and the author (photo by Candy Lynn)

Nowadays, Harry primarily makes his money from selling t-shirts and posing for photos with tourists. This is a sore spot for him when people try to take a photo without paying. “The downside about being here for so long is that people want to fight with me over taking my photo. Everything has escalated to the point that I make people pay me. There’s no girl in a box office here. How else are you supposed to come here everyday and do this?

“Look at it this way… I’ve been on big television shows, big tours, played almost every Live Nation stadium. But guess what? It comes to an end. This doesn’t come to an end. I come here everyday. This is just like an accident, but it’s the best gig I never had.”

Nikki Kreuzer

About Nikki Kreuzer

Nikki Kreuzer has been a Los Angeles resident for more than half of her life. When not working insane hours in the film & TV industry, she spends her time over many obsessions, mainly music, art and exploring the oddities of the city she calls home. She also writes for the L.A. Weekly and Oddee.com and has been published in Twist Magazine, Strobe and Not For Hire. Nikki is also is a mosaic artist, actor and as a photographer documents Offbeat things in L.A. on Instagram (username Lunabeat, please follow her!). She is currently working on her first novel. Please "like" the Offbeat L.A. Facebook page!
This entry was posted in Attractions, Live Music, Music, Offbeat LA, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Offbeat L.A.: Harry Perry- The Guitar Playing, Rollerskating, Turban Wearing Kosmic Krusader of Venice Beach

  1. I’ve always loved his bullseye guitar.

  2. auiooo says:

    Just to be a little more accurate, before Harry was on skates I was doing a similar gig on a skateboard, wearing tie dye and playing a lot of Hendrix style guitar & vocals. I would see Harry down by the Pavillion and skate up and do a little guitar battle for a while, he would stick to his songs and I improvised along. He also worked in some of his ballet moves as his whole orientation was classical. This would go on for a few tunes and usually attracted larger crowds, so he was making bucks, I never asked for any.

    Then I would skate off down the bike path and the fun was rolling up on people from nowhere and playing some crazy psychedelic riffs with feedback and distortion, it was kind of a workout/meditation.

    It wasn’t long after several of these encounters he got the skates, I’d guess closer to 78-79. We would sometimes swoop in on crowds like Batman & Robin and do our battle, I was learning his songs at this point. This led to some jamming at his Hollywood mansion sublet, and I played bass with him for a while, doing this on the boardwalk too with portable amps we both wore. Later we hooked up another bass player Spice and I switched to drums as I had a set of instruments to make a complete trio. There are cassettes of those rehearsals somewhere.

    At one point that bass player left and we worked with another named Bumpy, whom I later did some work with separately, we were more into Hendrix & Funk while Harry had a style like Jethro Tull, more classical riffs. Great fun though!

    Some of my own projects following that time: https://soundcloud.com/auiooo/sets/aui-solo-projects

Leave a Reply