To revisit the 1984 music video for Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” is to return to a time in country music when characters reigned. Actual, honest-to-goodness, no-stylist-on-the-payroll mavericks. And despite cameos from some of country’s wildest dudes, there was no bigger character on the “Rowdy Friends” set than Bocephus.
Wearing shirts that apparently didn’t have buttons, “Hank”-emblazoned suspenders and a shit-eating grin bigger than his straw cowboy hat, Williams was all wild-eyed energy, whether cavorting with women in matching pre-Robert Palmer leotards or hamming it up on a ramshackle yard-party stage. His comic masterstroke, however, was clumsily acting out the opening lyric of the song — “I’ve got ketchup on my blue jeans, I just burned my hand” — during a surreal segment with Paul Williams.
And that’s before all hell breaks loose. Williams (Paul, not Hank Jr.) leads a party-hearty charge to Casa de Bocephus, with familiar faces from country, rock and even comedy in tow. George Jones is spotted — naturally — on a riding lawnmower. George Thorogood shows up in a hot rod. Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong stumble out of a smoke-filled limo. And Porter Wagoner woos a young girl with his…pen.
When Paul Williams arrives, he does so with Little Jimmy Dickens, the two of them hossing a keg of beer bigger than the famously diminutive Dickens into the party.
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But the cool cameos belong to the usual suspects: Kris Kristofferson, in black leather and a Hank Williams T-shirt, makes eyes at a woman; while Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson engage in a game of poker — with a parrot.
The capper? In a nod to Junior’s famous pops, a guy dressed as Hank Sr. pulls up — and then flies away — in a spectral Cadillac.
Look closely and you’ll see Nelson sporting a T-shirt that reads “Life’s a bitch, then you die — have a good day,” but thanks to Williams’ all-star shindig, the party goes on forever.