Bruce Pelz – 2007


was involved in fandom from 1957 until his death in 2002. He provided leadership to the Los Angeles area fan community for over forty years. During that time, he founded Loscon and Bouchercon, and worked on or chaired many other conventions, including the 1972 Worldcon. The Los Angeles Science Fiction Fantasy Society acknowledged his work when it named him its first “Pillar”. His fan interests included fanzines, con-running, costuming, collecting, fan history, and, of course, filksinging.

Though not an instrumentalist, he was an entertaining performer and endlessly clever lyricist. Many of his songs were Gilbert and Sullivan parodies, which helped to establish a filk tradition of parodying Sullivan’s tunes. His many songs include “Trufandom Is a Way of Life” and “Grand Canal”, a setting of Robert Heinlein’s Rhysling song; he also set to music three songs from John Myers Myers’s Silverlock with the author’s approval. He sang as part of a duo with Ted Johnstone at science fiction convention masquerades in the sixties, long before filk concerts were a regular feature.

He was widely regarded as a leader, a friend, a mentor and a supporter, both of fledgling neo-filkers and fans in general. He gave both time and – anonymously – resources.

Bruce was the pre-eminent scholar and collector of science fiction fandom for decades, amassing enormous amounts of information about fans, conventions, and fanzines. His encyclopedic knowledge of fandom and willingness to share it are legendary, and earned him the nickname of “The Elephant”.

He produced a series of four filk books, called The Filksong Manual, from 1965 to 1969, with lyrics and, for the first time, sheet music; and kept them in print to the end of his life. These were among the earliest published books specifically dedicated to collecting filksongs, long before there were Westerfilk or Filthy Pierre’s Microfilk or a NESFA Hymnal. The importance of the Manuals for providing a unified, and unifying, source of material for filkers on the West Coast and elsewhere cannot be overstated.

But what is rarely mentioned is just how involved Bruce was in the encouragement and preservation of filk. A professional librarian, he was among the first to appreciate what a remarkable phenomenon filk was going to become. His very special gift to all of us was his unceasing effort to preserve fanzines which included filk, some of them genuine antiques, and many of them his own delightful publications. His collection included fanzines with filk from the 30’s, long before the term “filk” had even come into existence. Bruce made sure those precious rarities weren’t lost to posterity. His bequest of some 190,000 fanzines (including filk zines) spanning five decades to the University of Riverside Eaton Collection ensures that generations to come will have access to this material.

For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, Bruce Pelz is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this twenty-fourth day of March, Two Thousand and Seven.

RIP 2002