Jason Ponic works in the exciting world of Hollywood film and television by day and writes by night.
When I was a kid, my parents used to take me to a place called Pistol Pete's Pizza. It was an annual thing. We'd play arcade games, eat lots of pizza and hang out with friends. But the part I remember most was a robotic band that played music and sang songs. They were the Rock Afire Explosion!
Yeah! Remember? They had a keyboard playing gorilla, a singing mouse, guitar playing bears and a drum playing dog! They sang hits like the Macarana, YMCA, and the Chicken Dance. Of course you remember now!
The Rock Afire Explosion is considered to be one of the single best animatronic bands of all time. Originally built for ShowBiz Pizza Place in the 1980s, Rock Afire Explosion sang over 200 restaurants all over the country. It was a perfect combination of musical talent, animation, creativity and entertainment. When the Explosion was finally removed from ShowBiz when the company merged with Chuck E. Cheese in the early 90s, it was a sad day for many fans. The show was removed from Pistol Pete's in 1995, a truly depressing day.
For 20 years the show remained a faint memory in the minds of its fans, now in their late twenties and early thirties. It was all but forgotten until, YouTube! In 2008, the Rock Afire began appearing in dozens of videos across the web and interest in the show suddenly began to return! Since then, the band has regained many of its original fans, and have even earned new ones, securing a new lease on life into the 21st century!
Ladys and Gentlemen, the Rock Afire Explosion!
Cast of Characters
The Rock Afire Explosion is made up of the following characters
Billy Bob Brockali: A bear and the leader of the Rock Afire Explosion. He plays the guitar and rocks out from front of Smitty's Super Service Station.
Fatz: The big black gorilla and the band's keyboardist. He's front and center of the band and has a deep lovable voice.
Mitzi Mozzarela: The teenage lead vocalist of the Rock Afire Explosion. She's a cheerleader by profession and the cult favorite.
Beach Bear: The cool surfboard enthusiast and the lady's man of the group. As he jams on his guitar is wows the lady's with is charm and intellectual vocabulary.
Dook LaRue: A spaceman gone drummer, wowing the audience with his beatdowns and silly humor.
Rolfe & Earl: The world's only robotic ventriloquist act. Rolfe is the player of the group and Earl is is wise cracking puppet who seems to have a mind of his own.
Looney Bird: A bird ahead of his time but behind in his rehab. He sits in a drum of Gas-o-hol, the Rock Afire Explosion's very own green fuel.
Behind the Scenes
The Rock Afire Explosion was as technically advanced as it was dazing in the 1980s. All characters were pneumatically driven and controlled by a four track synchronized reel to reel audio system. Ah, good ol' magnetic tape! Most kids today have no idea what that is.
Two of said tracks were the soundtracks, the other two were signal tracks that fed into DBX box which converted the audio signal into a waveform that would be read by a custom build computer board call the Gray Box. The Gray Box then triggered the valve banks which made the characters move or powered the dazing array of disco lights that gave the show flare.
The Rock Afire Explosion Documentary
Once the Rock Afire began appearing on YouTube, a documentary was soon produced that chronicled the rise and fall of the Rock Afire Explosion and the man who created it, Aaron Fechter. The documentary also follows the life of one of the Rock Afire's biggest fans, Chris Thrash, who single handedly sparked the resurgence of the band.
Watch the documentary here!
Aaron Fechter is the creator of the Rock Afire Explosion and Creative Engineering Inc, the company that built it. Once the employer of over 200 people, the end of ShowBiz Pizza brought hard times on the company and today, Aaron remains its only employee. A born innovator and optimist, Aaron is a one-man-army determined to resurrect the Rock Afire Explosion and take it to the next level!
Aaron Fechter Interviews
- The Rock Afire Restoration Project
West Seattle businesses: What’s up in the former Petco space a Rock Afire fan slowly restores an old show to working condition!
I leave you with another show by the Rock Afire Explosion!
Rock Afire Wedding Proposal
On Sept. 23, 2012, Tony proposed to his girlfriend, Sam, through the Rock Afire Explosion.
Meep Meep on April 20, 2017:
I heard of ChuckE Cheese when I was playing FNaF and wondered what it was, I did some research of it then heard this thing called 'Beach Bear' I was very confused then found out if was from Rockafire Explosion.
Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on January 13, 2015:
The one in my hometown took their's down in 1995.
Ryan on January 13, 2015:
The Pistol Pete's had their Rock-afire up to 1997.