Hootenanny Salutes Strummer
Late Clash frontman Joe Strummer was honored with a few special tributes at last weekend's ninth annual Hootenany rockabilly festival and car show in Orange County, Calif.Late Clash frontman Joe Strummer was honored with a few special tributes at last weekend's ninth annual Hootenany rockabilly festival and car show in Orange County, Calif.
Festival organizer Bill Hardie, who befriended Strummer when the punk icon headlined last year's festival, made arrangements for an early-1950s Cadillac owned by Strummer and stored in the Los Angeles area to be put on display with a note that read, "This is our friend Joe Strummer's Caddy in all its glory. Joe is deeply missed."
A friend of Hardie's gave the car a tune-up and brought it out to Hootenany, where it was displayed along with many cars, including the actual Batmobile used in the '60s TV show "Batman."
Next to some of the shiny, impressive classics on display, Strummer's beat-up, unpainted vehicle certainly seemed like a misfit. But, knowing Strummer's punk-rock attitude, it seems fitting that the car is rather shabby. "It's almost like he's saying, 'F*** off, I don't need to wax it, like all you other f***s," Hardie says, laughing.
Strummer paid tribute to the car, which he drove often when visiting Southern California, on the Brian Setzer tune "Who Would Love This Car But Me?," which he co-wrote with the former Stray Cats frontman. Although the vehicle sported bullet holes and broken fins, Hardie says that it was a car that Strummer loved.
Setzer, meanwhile, was one of two performers at this year's festival to pay tribute to Strummer. Performing with the Stray Cats for only the second time in 11 years, Setzer dedicated a cover of the Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law," which the Clash famously covered in 1979. Earlier, Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness remarked to the crowd that his band would have never existed if not for the Clash.
In 2002, Hardie expanded the Hootenany festival to three cities, taking it to San Francisco and San Diego, in addition to hosting the annual bash at its longtime home at Irvine Lake, deep in the heart of Orange County. Strummer headlined each show last year.
Hardie, who notes that he feels very fortunate to have been able to spend a few days with Strummer last year, says that displaying Strummer's Caddy was "more for me than anyone else."
Like many, he remarks that Strummer seemed completely unaffected by his fame. "He was the most unaffected person I've ever meet in my entire life. It got to the point, where the last day in San Diego, after four days, I told 'em, 'You don't really know who you are, and he just smiled and said, 'No, probably not.'"
In addition to the Stray Cats and Social Distortion, this year's two-day festival also featured Little Richard, Junior Brown, Rocket From The Crypt and Dave Alvin, among others.