Sad news, Wisconsin pizza lovers: Madison’s Channel 3000 is reporting that James Martin Pedersen, the man who played the character of “Rocky Rococo” for the beloved (just us?) Rocky Rococo pizza franchise, has died. Channel 3000 reveals that Pedersen, a longtime Madison resident, died Thursday, February 4, and quotes Wayne Mosely, an owner of a Madison Rocky Rococo franchise, thusly:
“As Rocky, we valued his personal appearances because he could relate. He was adaptable. [He] became literally the face of Rocky. Everything was built around him. He was a wonderful, talented guy.”
Pedersen had played the white-suited, mustachioed, bespectacled “Rocky” since 1976. He was 67.
We at Milwaukee Record have been devoted fans of Rocky Rococo’s Milwaukee locations for years—first the gone-but-not-forgotten East Side restaurant, and more recently the Grand Ave. food court spot. As our friend Evan Rytlewski has said in the past, it’s almost impossible to separate the individual ingredients of a Rocky slice—it’s just one big mass of awesomeness. The same could be said of Pedersen and the character he embodied so well.
Anyway, here’s an album Pedersen recorded as Rocky back in the ’90s, Kitchen Licks. R.I.P.