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The story of "O" - RIP singer-guitarist Otis Barthoulameu

Fluf, Makeup Sex, Systems Officer, and Olivelawn were among his bands

Fluf with O onstage at the Casbah - Image by Youtube screenshot
Fluf with O onstage at the Casbah

Otis Barthoulameu, aka O, has passed away. The singer-guitarist played with Fluf, Makeup Sex, Systems Officer, Olivelawn, Harshmellow, Octagrape, Reeve Oliver, and Woofer. He also produced records and wrote and arranged for artists such as Anya Marina, and he reportedly helped Blink 182 secure their first record deal, producing records for them including their 1995 EP They Came To Conquer... Uranus.

"He tour managed lots of bands from the UK when they came to play in SD," recalls Casbah operator Tim Mays in an online post. "He was the guitar master of loud heavy chords."

Barthoulameu's backstage tales included stories from his tenure working as a roadie for the Muffs. An avid skateboarder and photographer whose other nicknames included "Otis Beefcake" and "Otisserie," it was impossible to attend more than a handful of local concerts without spotting him on the scene, often taking photographs (he was frequently published in skateboard magazines).

"I met O at the Del Mar Skate Ranch in the 80s," recalls fellow skating photographer J Grant Brittain online, "we worked and traveled together for Transworld Skateboarding Magazine and have had some great times together. O was one of the master skateboard and music photographers ever and a friend to everyone who knew him. Everyone has an O story and they are usually hilarious."

Barthoulameu's first record with Fluf was released in 1992 on the Cargo label. Bassist Jonny Donhowe, who also played with Barthoulameu earlier in the punk band Olivelawn, passed away in early 2020. Olivelawn released two albums in the early 1990s. O and Donhowe went on to form Fluf, while drummer Eddie Glass joined Fu Manchu in 1993 as lead guitarist and later played with Nebula.

A frequent Reader interviewee and Overheard In San Diego cartoon dialogue tipster, Barthoulameu was a learned expert on local rock and roll history, having photographed many of the most important area acts in their earliest incarnations. Ironically, "O" didn't like his own photo being taken and often strived to avoid finding himself on the wrong end of a camera lens.

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"O taught by example that one can wear many hats in life," says musician David Turbow online. "Skateboarding photographer, musician, sound engineer, music photographer, guitar aficionado. O helped mix one of my band’s early recordings."

Reportedly, Tera Melos' 2017 song “Your Friends” is partly about and inspired by Barthoulameu:

Got boxes of the Russians

And punk photos for the rest of us

And super sonic

Surfing sidewalks all the time

He's the uncle of the nauga men

Orange wallets from their shed skin

A singer machine

Making monkeys out of Hyde

They cruise town in the Frankenstein

And shralp hard when it's amplified

So offset

And speak a language they designed

Everybody knows O

See him at the shows

And Paul is everyone's friend too

He'll sew it up for you

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Fluf with O onstage at the Casbah - Image by Youtube screenshot
Fluf with O onstage at the Casbah

Otis Barthoulameu, aka O, has passed away. The singer-guitarist played with Fluf, Makeup Sex, Systems Officer, Olivelawn, Harshmellow, Octagrape, Reeve Oliver, and Woofer. He also produced records and wrote and arranged for artists such as Anya Marina, and he reportedly helped Blink 182 secure their first record deal, producing records for them including their 1995 EP They Came To Conquer... Uranus.

"He tour managed lots of bands from the UK when they came to play in SD," recalls Casbah operator Tim Mays in an online post. "He was the guitar master of loud heavy chords."

Barthoulameu's backstage tales included stories from his tenure working as a roadie for the Muffs. An avid skateboarder and photographer whose other nicknames included "Otis Beefcake" and "Otisserie," it was impossible to attend more than a handful of local concerts without spotting him on the scene, often taking photographs (he was frequently published in skateboard magazines).

"I met O at the Del Mar Skate Ranch in the 80s," recalls fellow skating photographer J Grant Brittain online, "we worked and traveled together for Transworld Skateboarding Magazine and have had some great times together. O was one of the master skateboard and music photographers ever and a friend to everyone who knew him. Everyone has an O story and they are usually hilarious."

Barthoulameu's first record with Fluf was released in 1992 on the Cargo label. Bassist Jonny Donhowe, who also played with Barthoulameu earlier in the punk band Olivelawn, passed away in early 2020. Olivelawn released two albums in the early 1990s. O and Donhowe went on to form Fluf, while drummer Eddie Glass joined Fu Manchu in 1993 as lead guitarist and later played with Nebula.

A frequent Reader interviewee and Overheard In San Diego cartoon dialogue tipster, Barthoulameu was a learned expert on local rock and roll history, having photographed many of the most important area acts in their earliest incarnations. Ironically, "O" didn't like his own photo being taken and often strived to avoid finding himself on the wrong end of a camera lens.

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"O taught by example that one can wear many hats in life," says musician David Turbow online. "Skateboarding photographer, musician, sound engineer, music photographer, guitar aficionado. O helped mix one of my band’s early recordings."

Reportedly, Tera Melos' 2017 song “Your Friends” is partly about and inspired by Barthoulameu:

Got boxes of the Russians

And punk photos for the rest of us

And super sonic

Surfing sidewalks all the time

He's the uncle of the nauga men

Orange wallets from their shed skin

A singer machine

Making monkeys out of Hyde

They cruise town in the Frankenstein

And shralp hard when it's amplified

So offset

And speak a language they designed

Everybody knows O

See him at the shows

And Paul is everyone's friend too

He'll sew it up for you

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