Friday is International Clash Day, a celebration of the life, work, music, and politics of “The Only Band That Matters“. Begun seven years ago because of a “listener request”, Seattle’s KEXP enlisted 110 radio stations around the world to host special broadcasts and live events ala “Radio Clash” from London to Uruguay.
So lift your jug like Clash front-man Joe Strummer, who is pictured here outside the Fuji Rock entrance way back in the day. And here’s a fun fact, Joe Strummer’s birthday, August 21, coincides with the start of this year’s festival. Call it synchronicity or happenstance, but you gotta believe their will probably be a few covers and on-stage tributes as well as many t-shirts and Mohawks championing The Clash’s anti-hate, anti-racism message.
Fuji Rock is deeply inspired by Joe Strummer and mates like Mick Jones, Don Letts, Lee Scratch Perry and others. Joe caroused dusk to dawn in the parking lot that now houses the Palace of Wonder, and multiple homages to his spirit exist such as a tree made from old mufflers by Joe Rush and Mutoid Waste Company and the now famous Strummer campfire.
Many festival goers may also remember a decommissioned European ski gondola which served as a sort of VIP booth for party people with que and all. Years of brutal winters dislodged the gondola from it’s lofty perch, pancaking it into a lump of scap. Last year, the tin roof was stripped off to make butterfly wings with remaining hulk sold for scrap, earning enough for a hearty lunch of pies and bangers for the POW set-up crew.
Fortunately, most of the contents of the gondola were rescued by quick thinking Clash fans who moved the remnants into Joe’s Garage on the first floor of a nearby ski lodge. Of the accumulated memorabilia and relics from Joe’s multiple visits to Fuji Rock include original set lists, handwritten lyrics tailored for Fuji Rock audiences, various photos and magazine covers, and original art work. A few metal scraps such as the door from the original gondola were also recovered.
Ota Tetsuji, founder of Joe’s Garage Crew said everything was stripped out of the gondola in 2018. He said heavy snow in the area left it virtually unrecognizable as he took it upon himself to rescue this important bit of history. In a Facebook messenger chat, Ota says “So I made it. I think that’s PUNK”. And now he makes sure the work is available 2020年8月21日〜8月23日@ Swallow Naeba Lodge.
He believes Joe’s Garage is a refuge where Clash fans from around the world can gather. “That is a splendid thing. Joe Strummer love’s FUJIROCK. His soul still over there. Seeya FUJIROCK 20!!!
Text: Sean S.
Photos provided by Ota from Joe’s Garage Crew and Jimmy Mills