I’ve been saving The Clash because, of all the bands we’ve covered at Vinyl On Wednesdays, this is the one I was closest to back in the day and still am now. As they will describe it, we’re like an extended family.
I first saw The Clash at Leighton Buzzard’s Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre in October 1976 and they blew everything else out of the water, including even the Sex Pistols.
They were so exciting storming through ‘White Riot’, it was like someone had plugged the air in the room into an electrical socket. They looked good too in their self-painted shirts.
That night in the bar afterwards, I clicked with the band and, for the next few years, never looked back. The next seven years were a whirlwind of tours, recording sessions and mad get-togethers.
When I took over Zigzag magazine in mid-1977, I reported on what they were doing from the front line and, when we had our punk band, the Vice Creems, Mick Jones offered to produce our single.
When the original lineup split before the session, he provided a band that included Topper Headon on drums and himself on guitar, resulting in the single called ‘Danger Love’. I also danced onstage with them behind reggae artist Mikey Dread on the 16 Tons tour, all in disguise wearing masks (I’ve still got Joe’s bandana).
Obviously, it was a major event when The Clash played Friars in June 1978. They quickly became one of the club’s adopted bands, returning several times and opening the 16 Tons tour there in January 1980. I didn’t have a Vice Creems then but they told me we were supporting them so had to form a new band in three days!
After The Clash split, I kept in touch with them, particularly Topper, Jonesy and his best mate and school friend Robin Banks (who he wrote ‘Stay Free’ for), along with legendary road manager Johnny Green.
On July 10, I’ll be going through my years with the Clash, relating some of our adventures and playing some of their records. Should be a blast as, another reason I saved The Clash for this night is because the event’s doubling as my 65th birthday party. None of us thought we’d see 30 so it’s quite a landmark, although it’s tragic Joe isn’t here any more. There’s a good chance Robin will come along to help me along with the stories.
The August 14 event will be special too. We’re celebrating the incomparable Jimi Hendrix, with John Perry, the Only Ones guitarist, talking about his influence and Electric Ladyland, which he wrote a book about. It’ll be almost 50 years to the day that Hendrix played The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, so I’ll be playing that too. V.O.W. continues to go from strength to strength!
The Clash Vinyl on Wednesdays event is taking place at the Temple Street Wine Bar on Wednesday, July 10.
Entry costs £3 on the door.