Son Tony Jr., who owns Tigertail Realty in the Grove, said at the time, “they all had cheap apartment/studios or studio/galleries. They flocked to the Grove for the natural beauty, and the rents were low.’’
Even before hippies moved in during the mid-1960s, “there was a lot of drinking and marijuana and music,’’ Tony Jr. said. “John Sebastian [Lovin’ Spoonful], Jimmy Buffett before he was famous, [folk-rocker] Fred Neil were here.’’
In 2009, when he opened a gallery on Grand Avenue, he told a Herald reporter how he developed a type of window display that he called “construction sculpture’’ as an alternative to mannequins.
King, a burgers-and-beer guy and early King Mango Strutter, could always be found at Scotty’s Landing, Coral Bagels or The Taurus, usually in a white T-shirt, khaki shorts, a ball cap and desert boots.
“He had a house on Virginia Street where he kept sculptures in the front yard,’’ Tony Jr. recalled. “He didn’t sell enough to make a living, but I don’t recall him being employed’’ after he left the department stores.
As the Grove gentrified, King decided to look elsewhere for a vibrant arts scene. Longtime friend Ron Higgins said he thought he found it in Stuart, but after two years “he regretted it and moved back.’’
King emceed neighborhood Christmas parties, which he recorded on video, said Higgins.
“He did things like that that made you appreciate your friendship with him,’’ he said.
King hatched many of his wacky ideas at The Taurus, where Herald humor writer Dave Barry met him in 1998 to talk about the Blowgun Society — and clown races.
King “was shopping in a discount store called MacFrugal’s, and he found a battery-powered toy clown,’’ Barry reported.
“It was a bumper-car type of clown. It was holding a balloon that lit up,” King told Barry, who noted that King “purchased 10 of them. He brought them to the Taurus and staged Clown Racing, wherein the clowns were let loose on a table, and people bet on which one would be the first to get through a hoop. This was a big hit, and it gave King, who is always thinking, an idea.
“‘I was going to get 1,000 clowns and set up a hoop in the Miami Arena and race them for charity,’” he said. “‘But when I went back to MacFrugal’s, they were out of clowns.’
“Some time later, King decided to purchase a blowgun, and for an excellent reason.
“‘I always wanted a blowgun,’ he said.’’
Friends will gather at 5 p.m. Thursday at Scotty’s Landing, 3381 Pan American Dr., Coconut Grove, to celebrate Leonard King’s life. Higgins said he expects at least 150 people, because “everybody loved Leonard.’’