ord Rockingham, better known among
non-Upper Crust fans as Ted Widmer, played with the Marquis de Roque in
Mente and the Paesanos
before they joined the other three original Crust members to form the
His Upper Crust songs are easily identified by their bright, power-pop sound which distinguishes them from the good-time headbanging that characterizes most of Lord Bendover's tunes. He wrote (and sings) two of the tracks on Let Them Eat Rock -- "Minuet" and "RSVP" -- and co-wrote (and co-sings) "Friend of a Friend of the Working Class" with Lord Bendover. On The Decline And Fall..., he can be heard on his compositions "Versailles," "Beauty Spot," and "Gold Plated Radio," The latter is worth singling out for one of the best lines in the history of recorded music: 500 little holes/Out comes roque and roll.
In days gone by, attendees of the band's live shows would have been treated to other Rockingham works, possibly including "Monarchy In The USA," "Golf Pro," and more. Unfortunately, except for one weekend of CD release events in New York City and greater Boston, Ted has had little involvement with the Crust since the March '97 show at Brownies. By the time they secured a deal to release their new album (which had already been recorded the previous year), he had taken a new job in Washington DC. He has not played with them since, and the Crust are no longer performing any of his songs.
Before moving to Washington, Ted was a Lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard University. His father is the headmaster of a prestigious Massachusetts prep school. Additionally, Ted was a fellow for the '96-'97 academic year at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute For African-American Research. His research project, "African Drums and their Repercussions," hinted at his other life. And, as recently reported in Boston magazine, "his dissertation, about the Democratic Party in the 1840s, has just been turned into a book by Oxford University Press."
Addressing the question of whether his students or colleagues were aware of his aristocratic sideline, Ted told the Boston Globe "I didn't tell anyone at Harvard, even when we were on Conan. But word got out. They were psyched -- all the old professors. Some of the students were stupefied and others thought it was the greatest thing ever. Maybe they thought it's an eccentric college professor thing." Given this background, one wonders whether Ted took his stage name from the race track in New Hampshire or the 18th century British noble.
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