OC hipsters owe a debt of gratitude to Rex “Tartarex” Thompson. Back in the early '90s, the lanky, attractive Newport Beach-bred surfer was of the first counter culture warriors who made it cool to live and breathe the '70s despite having missed out on most of it. At the time of his OC heydays, you could find no cooler cat surfing the Wedge or hanging at record stores like Noise Noise Noise who knew more about retro rock-n-roll. Perhaps more importantly, there was no one who could illustrate the romance of this music better than Thompson, who often spoke using his own “Freak Speak” dialect—equal parts California hippie, British slang, and '70s jive—all while sipping on a glass of Pink Lemonade, Thompson's beverage of choice.
Though he earned most of his notoriety in the OC and LA music scene as the bass playing front man of The Summer Hits between 1992-1996, Thompson (who got his nick name “Tartarex” form the title of a 1969 tune by German psych band The Petards) was also adored as a curator of far-out, impossibly obscure music. He wove amazing psychedelic and garage rock tracks from around the world into mix tapes with extensive, hand-written liner notes that became legendary collector's items among those in the know. His life story is detailed in a well-crafted long read by Doug Jones for Dangerous Minds with a title that sums up Thompson best: He Was Like a Walking Hit of Acid.
Thompson died of heart and kidney failure earlier this month at the age of 47. Though his legendary influence had been all but forgotten by subsequent generations of hipsters, the news of his passing hit the veterans of the underground SoCal music scene pretty hard. It's not every day (or even every decade) that someone burns through life as brightly as Thompson, who was gifted with an amazingly powerful sense of charisma (and am equally majestic mustache).
Despite this devastating loss, Thompson's friends and former bandmates in the Summer Hits refused to let his memory go quietly. In honor of Thompson's life, a free, all ages concert was announced at the Echoplex this Saturday, Oct. 1, featuring performances from The Tyde (including members of The Summer Hits), Holy Shit (with a special guest), JJ Herrema, Tomorrows Tulips, and Hammered Satin along with a few other special guests and surprises. DJs on deck include Johnny Basil, Justin Champion, Jimi Hey, Wez. Even if you don't know much about Thompson or The Summer Hits seminal release Beaches and Canyons, you can walk away with an appreciation of the music, memories and grooviness he left behind. For full details about the show this Saturday, click here.