Kris Needs column: A birthday to remember with some music from The Clash

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The Clash Vinyl On Wednesdays, doubling as my 65th birthday bash was an absolute blast, exceeding all expectations!

It was our most packed event yet, with over 70 punters packing into the Temple Street Wine Bar restaurant.

Kris Needs (right) with Paul Simonon of The Clash

Kris Needs (right) with Paul Simonon of The Clash

I got lovely cards, Jude organised a cake and my Secret Knowledge singing partner Wonder flew in from the US and sang “Happy Birthday” like Marilyn to JFK. I also got to talk about some of the best times in those 65 years I ever had with The Clash; the most exciting, beautiful band of all time.

After starting with that first gig at Leighton Buzzard’s Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre in October 1976 that changed my life, it proved impossible to get everything in (these memories filled my book Joe Strummer and the Legend of The Clash, soon to come on Endeavour kindle).

But after that night, when I realised I knew guitarist Mick Jones from Mott The Hoople gigs, I changed my hair, daubed shirts with emulsion and followed The Clash wherever I could, including the Royal College of Art’s Night Of Treason where Sid Vicious saved me from drunken meatheads who took exception to anyone not wearing flared trousers.

Those trousers inevitably came up as, if you wore flares you were square.

Even my straight-legged jeans sent Joe Strummer under the table, tugging at the hems and Mick lent me some of his old jeans so I wouldn’t incur Sid’s wrath!

I even dared play ‘Danger Love’, the single that Mick Jones produced for my punk band the Vice Creems in 1979.

Under pressure from girlfriends, the group split just before the session, leaving me and guitarist Colin Keinch bandless.

“I’ll get you a band”, said Mick; himself, drummer Topper Headon and bassist Tony James from Generation X.

Joe credited my wildebeest howl with inspiring his on London Calling, their masterpiece which I witnessed being recorded from start to finish. Privileged to be the only journalist at the sessions, for the world’s first playback, Joe led the band mummifying me in gaffa tape, before I scooted home and hand-wrote my exclusive review in Zigzag, the magazine I edited.

The wine bar’s time limit meant I only scraped the iceberg with my Clash memories but I’d like to thank everyone who came and made it a night to remember (plus Aylesbury Music for supplying sound and Rick for spinning tunes). See you on August 14 when we celebrate Jimi Hendrix (almost 50 years to the day since his Woodstock appearance).

Our guest will be John Perry, the Only Ones guitarist who’s written a book, Electric Ladyland (331/3).

It’ll be over 50 years since I witnessed Jimi in concert. But that’s another story...