Jon Spencer’s first solo album is 2018’s “Spencer Sings the Hits!” (Courtesy Ebru Yildiz)

‘Baby Driver’ puts Jon Spencer back in spotlight

Veteran blues rocker Jon Spencer’s career got a boost with the inclusion of his tune “Bellbottoms” on the soundtrack of Edgar Wright’s 2017 movie “Baby Driver.”

“When ‘Baby Driver’ came out, Edgar — bless his heart — kept forwarding me the Spotify numbers on the soundtrack, and my song, which was getting millions of plays or hits or whatever … But it doesn’t pan out into anything real. At least, I don’t know anybody for which it has,” says Spencer, 54, who plays Noise Pop this week, promoting 2018’s “Spencer Sings the Hits!,” his first solo effort.

Still, the movie is paying dividends in other surreal ways. Spencer appeared on the animated Fox TV series “Bob’s Burgers,” which was spoofing the movie and wanted a sound-alike.

“The guys who do all of the show’s songs, Phil Hernandez and Chris Maxwell, are New York indie rockers who I’ve known for years, so they emailed me and said, ‘We’re doing this “Baby Driver” sendup — you want to come sing on it?’” he says, calling it a fun thing to do and a surprise for the ‘Bob’s Burgers’ people who weren’t aware of his connection to the show.

Quirky British filmmaker Wright’s love for Spencer goes back to 1995, when he was editing his first feature “A Fistful of Fingers” and starting to write the scrappy heist flick about the high-speed capers of a tinnitus-bedeviled wheel man blasting tunes on his earphones.

He wasn’t sure what songs would be in the movie, but they had to have the same amped-up energy as his favorite garage-rocking album at the time, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosions’ “Orange” (with the signature howler “Bellbottoms”).

When Wright wrapped “Baby Driver,” he used “Bellbottoms” in the opening car chase scene and Spencer in a cool closing cameo.

The soundtrack became a bona fide hit, surprising Spencer, who since 1983 has played with not only his Explosion, but Heavy Trash, Pussy Galore, and his wife Cristina Martinez’s outfit Boss Hog.

Spencer, a no-nonsense New Yorker, will go to the mat for friends like Wright, Hernandez and Maxwell.

In 2016, when Explosion guitarist Judah Bauer’s debilitating respiratory ailment affected touring, he shut the band down and forced himself to write alone for “Hits,” and its 1960s-vintage socio-political kickers in “Fake” and “I Got the Hits.”

Or, as he puts it, “I’ve still got the bug for sure. And it’s not because I thought I was going to make money or achieve any fame. This passion really does consume me.”

Jon Spencer & the HITmakers
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 24
Tickets: $17 to $20
Contact: (415) 255-0333,

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