Walker Lane (Peter Werbe)
Billy Bragg

Drinking Joe Hill’s Ashes Interview with Billy Bragg

Note: FE staffer Walker Lane interviewed Billy Bragg, the English singer/songwriter, when he played a 1998 Labor Day benefit for striking Detroit newspaper workers.


Lane: Rumor has it you once drank a glass of beer containing the ashes of the famous Wobbly songwriter, Joe Hill.

Bragg: It’s true, actually. Joe Hill was executed by the state of Utah in 1915 after a frame-up trial. When he died, he was cremated, and they had asked him where he wanted to be buried. He answered, “Anywhere but in Utah,” where he had been executed by a firing squad. So, what the Wobblies decided to do was to send his ashes to every union branch in the United States. They put them in little packets and mailed them out.