By Kate Catalina
Shock jock Erich “MANCOW” Muller, host of MANCOW Morning Show on Chicago’s classic rock station 97.9 The Loop, can easily be considered a controversial character. His list of on-air confrontations runs long, rooted and wild, like a muddy river of quick-witted sarcasm rushing through the Amazon – but that’s his draw.
Take his 2014 television debacle on MANCOW TV (The U), for instance, with legendary rock icon Ace Frehley (KISS) who appeared on the show to promote his solo album Space Invader. MANCOW, calling KISS “a little band” seemed to have ruffled Frehley’s rock and roll feathers as the rocker responded with his own version of sarcastic banter stating, “I wouldn’t necessarily call it a little band.”
A whole new tale of controversy (fueled by the “Cow” himself) currently unfolds, directly affecting members of the Chicago music scene and (apparently) the shock jock’s wellbeing.
Friday morning, September 23, 2016 will surely be a day to remember in the Chicago rock world, especially for local record producer (or is he?) Damon Ranger.
The alleged music man recently made headlines at this years’ Riot Fest performing with Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider and was deemed a guest on MANCOW’s show early morning on Friday. But the radio spot, which Ranger has been featured on in the past, did not go over with the gleam of a bright and sunny day as he likely thought.
Ranger has boasted an extensive list of accomplishments such as proudly taking credit for writing pop diva Katy Perry’s 2013 hit “Roar,” as well as having won an Academy Award for his work on the score for the 2012 survival drama Life of Pi, among other things.
As it turns out (thanks to MANCOW’s practiced bravery as that controversial radio personality his fans so admire), Ranger was exposed as a total fraud.
But how did the drama ensue?
In what seemed to start out as a friendly live radio chat between friends, MANCOW confronted Ranger with the ultimate question, warning listeners at home, “We have a lot to talk about here. I promise you a moment that you’ll never forget.” Inviting the supposed music mogul into the studio, he confronted the “record producer” and long-time friend about his mighty claims.
“Damon, how are you?” he asked. “You are a brother. We are brothers. We’re like family. Brother, I got a phone call yesterday from someone claiming to be legal… they said they were with the Academy Awards and that you’ve never won an Academy Award, and that you’re an actor, and you’ve been lying to me.”
In a video of the painstaking moment that went viral on The Loops’s official Facebook page shortly after (with nearly 10 thousand viewers by noon of that same day), Ranger can be seen mustering up the simple strength to breathe as his face turned a gut-turning shade of pale. He was completely incapable of responding, and, appearing rattled, took a sip from his coffee in dire attempt to collect himself.
“Did you win an academy award for Life of Pi?” MANCOW continued.
While Ranger replied with a meek, “Yes, I did,” his awkward behavior, emanating total devastation and obvious disorientation, said otherwise. He even ran out of the studio, later texting the crew dozens of screen shots of himself with famous musicians intending for the photos to clear his name. But, let’s be honest, if the guy wasn’t telling a major fib, MANCOW’s confrontation wouldn’t have triggered such a defensive response. Ranger even called the show back an hour later and was still not able to give MANCOW an easy yes-or-no answer in regard to his fake Academy Award win.
Following the rigid events of the morning, Ranger wrote to MANCOW in a group text to the show’s cast, “Dude. Ambush me on the air? You planned it. So not cool and so not what a friend would do.”
The question on everyone’s mind, however, is what exactly was MANCOW’s intent behind the live face-off? If Damon Ranger was a friend as he declared, why embarrass him on the air?
To put it quite simply, it is now apparent that Ranger was the lad not a friend, for as the age-old expression goes, “friends are honest with each other.” Indeed, as devastating of a blow as it seemed to be for Mr. MANCOW to find his friend was (to put it bluntly) a dishonest prick, the notorious radio personality and actor had saved the day among Chicago’s tightly-knit society of rockers who always looked up to Damon Ranger.
Billy Corgan, the machine behind Chicago-based alternative rock group Smashing Pumpkins (who has gained international fame for his work as a musician and a poet), couldn’t confirm his knowledge of who the darling pink-haired Mr Ranger was. After MANCOW called the artist up to address another one of Ranger’s claims of having worked on the set of Corgan’s 1996 video for “Tonight Tonight,” Corgan himself could not determine he knew anything of the deceitful poser by saying, “It sounds highly suspect.”
There we have it. Damon Ranger was rendered a phony, and MANCOW, who never actually took the side of those who were pointing fingers, but rather had hoped the accusations were untrue, shed a heavy sea of salty, grievous tears for a solid five minutes.
No, really, he did.
On a four-hour morning radio show attracting the attention of millions of listeners for its fast-paced script riddled with adult humor and informative political views, the show on this particular morning consisted of nothing but talk of the sorry Mr. Ranger.
But, wait, it gets better.
The force behind the tip-off to the Academy who contacted MANCOW and his tight crew of radio co-hosts (Cathy the Greek, Al Roker Jr, Abe the Chameleon, Johnny Chops, DJ Luv Cheese, Chip Z’Nuff) has something to say, too.
Hard rock guitarist Bill Bakopoulos (Jimi Falls) met Damon Ranger years ago as an intern at Planet 10 Studios in Palatine, IL (the studio no longer exists) when he was in college studying audio production.
“After having personally worked with Damon and gauging his talent,” Bakopoulos said, “I was shocked to find out that he claimed to have won an Academy Award for collaborating on the musical score for Life of Pi. In my experiences with Ranger, I was underwhelmed with his musicianship which lead me to look deeper into the matter.”
He continued by saying, “Ranger should have pursued a career in acting as he had Chicago fooled for far too long.”
Bakopoulos has something no one else caught as this exclusive story has caused such a buzz: the emails back and forth between the music department at Twentieth Century Fox and the true composer for Life of Pi, Mychael Danna. And to no shock, Damon Ranger is an unknown name among the lot of credible names associated with the film. Oh, and? The pictures found online of Ranger proudly displaying his Academy Award bring about a good laugh as Danna commented in one of his emails to Bakopoulos, “That is not a real Oscar, the base is wrong.”
Chip Z’Nuff, bassist and frontman from rock sensation Enuff Z’Nuff and co-host on MANCOW Morning Show, also had something to say about the man who he professionally associated himself with for years.
“I’ve been totally shocked and bamboozled at these allegations that have turned out to have validity as, for years, Damon has stated that he worked with all these big name artists like Taylor Swift and JLo. And now it turns out it’s a load of malarkey. I only hope in time these wounds will heal because right now it’s a bandage on a gunshot wound.”
Now a number of anonymous names have come out of the woodwork declaring Ranger owes them money and has cleverly weaseled his way into taking credibility for their work as a musician or producer on various high-profiled projects.
Ranger has also reportedly produced Dee Snider’s upcoming solo record We Are The Ones.
Snider and his reps have not been available for comment.
The moral of the story: honesty is refreshing when you find it in others but truly liberating when you find it within yourself.
Good luck, Mr Ranger.