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PREVIEW: Conference doc ‘A Shift Of Heart’

Sep 27, 2021, 9:07 PM | Updated: Sep 28, 2021, 2:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — He may have passed away 20 years ago, but the legend of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth still lives on in a big way in Utah.

Every year, a huge reunion takes place in Manti to honor this innovative artist who revolutionized the car world as we know it.

“Anybody that had a hot rod knew Ed Roth,” said artist Greg Coop, who credits his artistic skills to Roth, who he knew and worked with for more than 25 years.

Roth’s popularity and fame first exploded with a cartoon-looking image he started painting on t-shirts in the 50’s — a green, bug-eyed, stinky junk yard rodent known as Rat Fink.

“[He was] one of the first ones to freak people out and make a statement with t-shirts. There’s stories of kids going to school wearing Ed Roth T-shirts and getting sent back home because they were too wild and distracting for the time,” said one artist.

Rat Fink continues to live on.

Every year, artists and fans from all across the world converge on Manti to honor Big Daddy and the legacy he’s left behind.

“As an artist, you feel you are such a weirdo and nobody understands you and Ed made people feel normal,” said Rat Fink artist Kathy Mejia.

But there is another side to Roth that took him out of the fast lanes of Southern California and brought him to settle down in the small central Utah town of Manti.

In the 70’s, Roth converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

George Nelson had a front row seat to Ed’s conversion. He was a 19-year-old missionary in the 70’s and taught Ed in his home in Southern California.

“The Lord doesn’t look on the outside, right? He looks on our heart, and Ed had the right heart. He had a heart that wanted to serve the Lord,” said an emotional Nelson.

Watch A Shift of Heart this Saturday on KSL-TV at 12:30 p.m., following the first session of General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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PREVIEW: Conference doc ‘A Shift Of Heart’