History and Development
Looney Bird originated from The Hard Luck Bears, his predecessor being named "Gooney Bird". This version was nearly identical to the current Looney Bird in voice, appearance (aside from a longer beak, actual plumage, and a traditional barrel), and personality. A running gag in the show was that, every time he spoke, Mama Granbags would silence him by whacking him. Many shows gave reference to Looney siphoning away Billy Bob's "Gasahol" (sometimes referred to as "Goofy Gas"), meant to solve the woes of the second energy crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Looney Bird is voiced by Aaron Fechter.
Looney Bird's animatronic was designed to accentuate his crazy personality. His eyes were often programmed to roll around in random directions with eyelids closing opposite of each other. Additionally, he was outfitted with a large spring that caused him to rock around when lifting out of his barrel.
By 1983, Looney Bird was retrofitted to have a set of hands that would pop up holding a piece of paper. These were used for what became an ongoing skit entitled "Letters to Looney Bird", in which he answered questions that people sent in. These letters were themed to go along with the current showtape.
By the mid-1980s, Looney Bird's character went through a change. He became known for his technical abilities, even having a barrel full of gadgets. This new personality was most likely based on Aaron Fechter's prospects at the time. In one show, Looney Bird tells of his lifelong dream, to create a computer language that kids could use. Coincidentally, this was a project Aaron was actually working to achieve at the time.
Shortly after the development of this new stage, the restaurant Looney Bird's was tested in Orlando, where Looney Bird was the main character. Looney Bird was featured on tokens, t-shirts, and all sorts of merchandise. This concept spawned another two franchises in Jackson, Tennessee and Covington, Louisiana (both now closed), although these later restaurants had the 3-Stage.
Looney Bird's character has been active in recent years, mainly because of Aaron Fechter's continued involvement with the Rock-afire Explosion. Looney has appeared in "Billy Bob's Newsblast" (2005-2006), private recordings made for fans, and also in new skits for the British restaurant Hannah Banana with Billy Bob.
During Concept Unification, which occurred at nearly all of the ShowBiz Pizza locations between 1990 and 1992, Looney Bird's animatronic was used for Pizzacam, and his oil barrel was replaced by a speaker box. His mechanics were changed completely, as he no longer used his spring mechanism, his eyes were reprogrammed to become cross-eyed like Beach Bear's eyes, and his eyelids could now blink together.