This Thursday night, friends and family of Clay "Otis" Hardee will gather for a memorial show at the Hi-Tone. Memphis music suffered a great loss when Hardee passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on the night of Thursday, October 20th. He was 35 years old. As a longtime member of the Memphis music community, Hardee started out as a band cheerleader of sorts before getting on stage himself and releasing album after album of thoughtful yet humorous music that only he could create.
To memorialize the larger-than-life mascot of Memphis music, a handful of prominent musicians and bands will gather for a weeknight showcase. Toby Vest, Luke White, the ADDults, Snowglobe, the Sheiks, Dead Soldiers, and the Plaibois will all perform, in addition to appearances by Jack Oblivian, Kelly Anderson, and Dave Shouse. All proceeds from the concert will benefit the Clay Hardee Memorial Fund, and those in attendance are encouraged to wear Clay Otis-themed outfits (meaning coke bottle glasses, sneakers, and a cardigan).
Longtime friend and collaborator Toby Vest remembered Clay in an interview with the Flyer earlier this year:
"Even though he wasn't born here, he was a true Memphis original and a true believer in the mystical power of this city to transform people," said Vest.
"The music he leaves behind is a testament to that. He was a musical pied piper. He convinced so many of us to follow him down musical paths we might not have taken on our own by simple force of will and his unbridled enthusiasm for the talents of the people around him."