Face of Malibu: Ted Gillespi

Ted “the Drain Brain” Gillespi, 64, came to Malibu more than 30 years ago thinking he would leave in a couple of weeks. A plumber, singer, songwriter and graphic artist, Gillespi did all the graphics for The Malibu Times before it was digitalized. Today he lives in the Point Dume Club with his loving wife Laurel and is the local plumber in Malibu. But his heart still lies in singing and songwriting. 

The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the man who thanks the Malibu community for being there for him in every aspect of his life. 

How has your experience been as a local plumber in Malibu? Any exciting stories? 

Oh, about five books’ worth. There’s always a plumbing story. We bought The Drain Brain from the owner Bill O’Donahue in 1990. I did general home repair for a few years until Bill called me and asked if I wanted to buy The Drain Brain. There have been lots of interesting experiences. It’s been good. We have a good company clientele. People have been good to us and we try to be good to them. 

Who came up with the name The Drain Brain? 

The name originated in Malibu by a photographer, I’ve heard. 

You are primarily a singer and songwriter. Tell me a little about your music. How long have you been doing it? What type of music do you record? 

Mostly Americana and alternative country. My wife and I both have albums. I record under a different name, Owny Rutledge. I’ve been doing it for about 35 years. My passion is singing and songwriting. We are a whole family of songwriters. All my children write songs as well. 

What brought you to Malibu from Canada? 

We are from Victoria, British Columbia. 20th Century Publishing wanted one of our songs. We thought we’d be here for a couple of weeks and ended up staying. 

What happened when your home burned in Point Dume a few years ago? 

We lost everything. We have been living in Point Dume Club for 23 years and eight years ago our house burned down. The response was unbelievable. The letters and donations were overwhelming. We will never forget that. It was overwhelming how people responded to that for us. The people in Malibu know what it’s like to lose your place to disasters. You have no idea how wonderful everyone responded to help us out. It really showed the spirit of Malibu and the community. 

How has Malibu evolved in the past 30 years? 

It was very sleepy when we came here. There was hardly any traffic on Pacific Coast Highway. You knew everybody. It’s changed. The population isn’t that much more. But it seems like there are a lot more people and it’s a lot more corporate. The biggest change is traffic on Pacific Coast Highway. The Mom and Pop shops have disappeared. 

What are some good changes that you’ve seen? What is your favorite thing about Malibu? 

They’ve done a good job with developing. Malibu still has good people and spirit. A certain type always has lived in Malibu. That hasn’t changed. Nice place to come to get away from things. You still see people in pajamas in the market and no one looks at them. It’s a chill place, always has been and still is. Casual Malibu. The good feeling is still prevalent. 

How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks? 

It was great. They’ve been clients of ours for years and friends. I was honored to be asked to do it. 

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