The 100 Club Punk Festival 1976 (Revisited)

40 years ago, at the end of a red-hot English summer, a highly significant Festival took place at the 100 Club in Oxford Street. Although only several hundred people were in attendance, it was nevertheless a watershed moment in popular music and culture. The 100 Club Punk Festival was the moment when everything changed in Britain and a new era in popular culture was born. As my own small contribution to the 40th anniversary of 1976 (Year Zero), I have put together a few scraps and glimpses from memory of that momentous gig. Endlessly chronicled and dissected by writers and journalists over the years, this is my own personal view of the show and what was happening then. Being entirely subjective, I’m sure many of you who were around at that time may disagree entirely with the facts I present from memory.

hqdefault

I think what journalists and the media have failed to understand is the precarious state of the nascent punk rock scene back then. The Clash were a tiny troop – just Mick, Joe, Paul, and Terry (to some extent). Bernard Rhodes (the manager) and his ‘missus Sheila, Mickey Foote their sound man, and Sebastian Conran flitting in and out of Rehearsal Rehearsals on his Norton Commando. There was no-one printing t-shirts or making clothes, no record company to call on, no tour manager, no wages. The only person with a car was Bernie, so when I showed up with the Subway Sect having a functioning motor vehicle, I was very quickly co-opted to run errands, pick-up spares, and shuttle back and forth to Bernie’s. They were just an idea at the time, fermenting over six months and born from the frustration of the bloated, stagnant music scene. Their existence was balanced on a knife-edge, with success or failure at each show so crucial.

Contrast that with the Pistols who had been gigging for almost a year, had Malcolm and Vivian successful in their own right, the SEX shop supplying their clothes, Boogie, their soundman, Sophie in the office, and the whole Bromley contingent following them around, providing a supportive entourage. What the 100 Club Punk Festival did was to solidify the inner core of the top punk rock bands (Pistols, Clash, Damned, Buzzcocks, Subway Sect), and give the concept an identity and meaning. In the weeks following the show, bandwagon-jumpers like ‘The Stranglers’ and ‘Eddie And The Hotrods’ would push their hair behind their ears, place rubber bands around their flared jeans, and try to catch the wave that had been created. It was off to the races after the Festival.

Since arriving at ‘Rehearsal Rehearsals’ sometime in the first half of August as school friend and roadie with the Subway Sect, a daily schedule between us and The Clash had developed. Depending on how early I could get them to Rehearsals (and if The Clash were still rehearsing), we often strolled down to George’s cafe, just over the Camden Lock, for a cuppa’ and a sandwich. There was another closer greasy spoon cafe right opposite Rehearsals, but everyone used George’s, not just because it was more agreeable but because of the owner’s daughter, a doe-eyed teenager, Gabby, who we fantasized over constantly. She worked in the cafe and we would watch her out of the corner of our eye, trying not to make eye contact. A hush would come over the table as she approached and fetched our orders. Sometimes, if any of the Clash were still at Rehearsals, they would wander down for a cuppa’ and we would chat about various things that were going on. It was where we got most of our information back then. Occasionally, a journalist or photographer would accompany them and tea and sandwiches would be coaxed out of their expense budget. Even though The Clash were being written up in the music papers, they seemed to be poorer than we were! I occasionally had to stand for a cheese-and-tomato sandwich for Paul or egg-mayonnaise for Mick.

Then it would be the Subway Sect’s turn to rehearse in the evening until they’d had enough. Sometimes Sid Vicious, Glen Matlock, or Mad Jane would be hanging around and not much rehearsing would get done. Paul Simonon would often be amusing himself playing with toy guns, practicing his bass lines, or happily breaking something. I busied myself fixing equipment, picking up spares, or popping over to the pub for a pint and a packet of crisps.

SUBWAYSECTDHd96_punk_026

The original Subway Sect – Rob Simmons, Paul Myers, Paul Smith, Vic Godard.

As the day of the 100 Club Punk Festival drew closer, rehearsals for both bands noticeably intensified. The Clash had about a ten-song set by then although we only heard snatches of it as we came and went through the studio. Their rehearsals were conducted at a driving pace and there never seemed to be much in the way of inactivity. In contrast, The Subways had put together a short five-number set of manically fast, dissonant, jarring numbers. Being brought up on soul music, I had no ear for loud, inharmonious rock. The high pitched, cacophonous, jangly guitar and very basic drumming was an assault on my ears though I appreciated the creativity and motivation behind it. But all the photographers and journalists that saw and heard them loved it and seemed to construe their eccentric behaviour as a planned, staged anti-rock’n’roll stance, laying their own interpretations on the band’s meaning, many of which were maybe unjustified. Much of this was undoubtedly due to Vic Goddard’s own character and his pseudo-intellectual lyrics that purveyed this image – but to me personally at that time they were still just schoolmates, fucking around with guitars; our shyness and naivety was no act; our introverted nature was just us being ourselves.

The night before the show, Sid Vicious, Steve Havoc (Severin), and Marco Pirroni, the other members of the impromptu band The Flowers of Romance, showed up at Rehearsals for an unplanned rehearsal. Arranged at the last minute with Bernie, we had no idea they would be there and so moved our equipment out of the way while they messed around on the Clash’s equipment. Terry had said Sid could use his kit, thinking that Sid would have his own on the night. The rehearsal didn’t last very long as Sid just wasn’t interested in rehearsing and it soon dissolved into a mere fuck-around. Once they left, we moved the gear away, replacing it with our own and had a short last rehearsal before the Subway Sect’s debut gig.

Next day, I drove the Subways’ gear down to the 100 Club in my car as the Clash’s equipment was being transported along with the PA and the Pistol’s gear. We loaded through the back door and down the stairs of the familiar old club. Although I had been there many times as a punter, not so long ago back in our soul dancing days, it had always been dark and hot, throbbing with lights and music. To see it in the cold light of day was a shockingly rude awakening, its beer-soaked floors and filthy sweat-stained walls bore witness to decades of human emotion and exhilaration. The stench of the stinking toilets and the vomit-covered carpets was the first of hundreds of familiar depressive scenes that I would witness in the coming years all over England and Europe’s clubs and halls, but like most first experiences, it made a huge and lasting impression. I would never experience the atmosphere of a club in the same way again and the frisson of being a paying dance club customer was shattered forever.

susie

Siouxsie Sioux and Steve Severin outside the club before the sound check.

After we had hauled our equipment in and stacked it in a corner of the room, we sat nervously huddled around a table as the PA and lights were setup. As time passed the club became a hive of activity, with gear being setup and lights pointed. Various band members and friends began arriving and milling around, many of whom we recognized. The Bromley Contingent was again in full force. A few came over and spoke to us, but for the most part we sat there by ourselves. I recall Sid shared a few jokes with us and Johnny Rotten gave a few words of encouragement, as did Steve Jones who Paul Smith seemed to connect with instantly. Mick Jones asked if we needed anything and Paul Simonon would occasionally shoot at us with a small pellet gun he had. We met Boogie, The Pistols’ sound man for the first time and he gave out encouraging words too. Malcolm and Bernie were running back and forth in the club, to busy too even look our way. We were so totally inexperienced we had no idea of what was really going on.

Each band had staked out a table for themselves in the club like small encampments, while we were sitting waiting for sound check. There were a couple of journalists from the music papers doing the rounds and interviewing the bands. One of them eventually came round to the Subway Sect’s table and asked, “Have any of you got any musical experience?” Paul Smith said he’d been in the boy scouts. “I’ve never heard of them,” the writer from the NME said, “Who else was in them?” Paul said incredulously, “What you’ve never heard of the boy scouts? They’ve been around for years!” The humour of the remark broke the ice for us and we laughed for the first time that day. I’m sure the journalist thought it was all part of their image but it was true, and ironically, it was that kind of comical immaturity that endeared the Subway Sect to mostly everyone.

soundcheck

Band members and friends at the sound check before the show.

As everything began running late with equipment and PA problems, the Pistols decided they wouldn’t bother sound checking and so it was decided that there was only time for the Clash to do a sound check. Their gear was setup. They strolled on stage, plugged in and immediately fired straight into ‘White Riot’ at top volume.

Well! I’d heard of the term ‘wall of sound,’ but this was like being hit by a sledgehammer over and over again! Played at breakneck speed and full volume it was as if an earthquake had erupted (the emptiness of the club probably contributed to the effect). We sat looking at each other, eyebrows raised, and without a word knew we were all thinking the same thing, “What the hell had we gotten ourselves into?” The number finished on a shout and the room was silent except for feedback and crackling, buzzing electrical connections. It was at if we had been confronted with a force of nature and everyone present seemed speechless by the explosion they had just witnessed, most of all us.

If we had been scared shitless beforehand, we were crapping our trousers now. The Subways’ gathered round and spoke in hushed voices at the dismay and embarrassment of being on the bill with such seemingly professional musicians (and this wasn’t even the Pistols!) There we were, with our tiny little amps, not even able to tune the instruments or have a sound check. Bob Simmons was overwhelmed at how proficient The Clash appeared and how bad the Subways’ were going to look. Paul Smith was convinced the audience was going to think it was a joke. Vic seemed to suddenly realise that he was going to be singing in public for the first time. The certainty that it was going to end in an embarrassing disaster raised the brief suggestion of pulling out, but was quickly dismissed. There was of course, no way out – they had been advertised on the bill and Vic had already signed the papers at Malcolm’s office behind the Edgware Road the week before.

We set up our equipment in front of the Clash’s backline as instructed by Mickey Foote and Boogie, then endured interminable hours waiting before going on, unable to eat or drink and scared stiff. The club slowly filled up with the cream of the London club scene, all decked out in their most outrageous outfits and anyone who was anyone, was there that night. We filled our time spotting various faces we recognised and hovering around the gear on the stage. With five minutes to go to show time, the Subways were petrified with fear and barely able to move. I helped out as best I could but having no real idea of what was expected of me, I was of little help.

subways2

Vic Goddard, Paul Smith, and Paul Myers of The Subway Sect.

Then that heart-stopping moment arrived and on they went. Once onstage they displayed such nervousness that the audience must have mistook it for their signature impassionate demeanor, and actually it ended up counting in their favour. Bob Simmons stood riveted to the spot, rigid and tense, Fender Mustang guitar slung high up his chest like a young Wilco Johnson. Paul Myers, curling his lip nervously, stood motionless staring blankly, focusing on his bass-lines. Paul Smith ploughed his way through the five numbers using snare and tom-toms, still unable to incorporate the hi-hat in his playing. Vic Goddard slouched, hanging on the mic, a tortured yet expressionless air, his face highlighted by the white makeup he had applied, ignoring the audience with complete indifference. They got through their set without mishap (much to my relief), and I wasn’t called upon to fix anything. The audience reaction was restrained but favorable, seemingly more intrigued than anything else, it not being the mayhem they were expecting. In a sense, the Subway Sect were the perfect warm-up act – just enough to wet an audience appetite, and more than enough to captivate it to want more. When the set finished, the gear was bundled off the stage by the PA crew and it was all I could do to keep it all together in one place by the side of the stage.

Having arranged to use some of the Clash’s equipment, The Flowers of Romance started to setup onstage but on seeing Sid wearing a swastika armband, Bernie Rhodes suddenly refused to let him use the Clash’s drum kit. Arguments rang out and accusations were made with Sid calling Bernie “a fucking old Jew!” Sid needed a kit to play and Paul Smith was more than happy to let his hero use the Subways’. So Terry Chime’s drum kit had to come off the stage and the Subways’ kit brought back on and setup again. It was an absolute shambles with cymbals and tom-toms going back and forth. I remember asking Sid how he wanted the kit setup – he just sneered and said, “However you normally set it.” I realised that he still he had no idea how to play the drums.

flowers-kit

Siouxsie Sioux and Sid Vicious of The Flowers Of Romance.

After The Flowers or Romance stumbled through their 20-minute version of the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ with Siouxsie Sioux wailing and howling throughout, I was helped off with the Subway’s kit again by Mickey Foote, and the other roadcrew. We then brought the Clash’s kit back on to be re-miked a second time. By then I had forgotten the crowd with all the chaos ensuing. Suddenly, The Clash came out, plugged in, and launched into their first number at breakneck speed. Watching their set with neck hairs raised and mouth open from the side of the stage I couldn’t help being overwhelmed at the blinding, heart-racing spectacle they made. Guitars flashing, colours blurring, speed-crashing deafening punk rock – the Clash gave it to the audience in torrents, number after number. It was total mayhem onstage and chaos from the crowd with sound problems, broken strings, and equipment breakdowns.

the-clash

The Clash on-stage at the 100 Club.

The Clash finished their set, I helped move their gear off the stage and stored it close by the Subway’s backline. Standing on a chair watching the Pistols from out front, I was for the first time, able to detach myself from my previous ambivalence, and became mesmerized by their performance. I remember thinking at the time that this was what it was all about now – the soul scene was dead and gone and for the time being, this was the future. Although I didn’t quite comprehend or profess to enjoy the music, it was a turning point for me and I unfalteringly got the message – this was the NEXT BIG THING and more than just a flash in the pan.

pistols

The Sex Pistols at The 100 Club.

After the Pistols finished their set and the crowd eventually dispersed a little, we moved our own gear out the back of the club and into my car, then helped move the Clash’s equipment. We drove back home to Barnes with a feeling of disbelief at what we had witnessed, and been a part of. At that point we had no idea that we had just participated in would become the foremost legendary punk gig of the time eventually achieving almost mythical status. With our ears still ringing, we sat in my car and speculated until daybreak, on a natural high, unwilling to let go of the night before. In the following days we dissected the music paper reviews which were glowing about the festival and intrigued by the Subway Sect; the Subways’ were just grateful that the press hadn’t torn them to shreds for their shortcomings! It was a moment of clarity in a sea of confusion. The way seemed clear and all things looked attainable; ambition and success appeared assured. After a brief pause for breath, rehearsals resumed in Camden as before and I became entwined equally in both bands’ fortunes, but the passion, ferocity, and intensity of that first show, where it all finally came together, would be hard to surpass in the future.

The Baker.     September 2016

Any comments, ideas for future posts, or topic discussion are welcome.

Advertisements

117 thoughts on “The 100 Club Punk Festival 1976 (Revisited)

  1. alexclash

    Wow bake well played for getting it all down? Is this new? You got it the whole feeling of a movement happening before our eyes and how you /we were propelled along with events the shyness and naivety which I think is always there in a new artistic movement that making it up as you went along and all just out of school and into the world and what a world

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Thank you, your comments are appreciated and well noted. Yes it was all so fresh and naive compared to today – shaven heads, tattoos, piercings….but the public were so afraid – it seems almost quaint now. But corporate globalism hadn’t taken over then and individualism still counted for something. Even 40 years later, I still don’t want to look like anyone else…

      Cheers Alexclash,

      Baker.

      Reply
      1. thebaker77 Post author

        Johnny showed upon the Complete Control Tour which started October ’78 (the name of the tour has been confused over the years with a tour which the Clash MkII did years later – more on that in a bit.) He was a friend of the semi-driver Johnny Hallaway who was letting him sleep in his cab over-night. He hung around the gigs, helping anyone he could with anything whether it was an errand, a spotlight, a piece of gaffa tape – he seemed an all-around good guy. Someone on the lighting crew must have said light-heartedly that there was plenty to do if he wanted a job. That was it for Johnny -he went home, packed his bags, and turned up in Scotland to everyone’s amazement. So he continued with us on the tour helping out where he could. Half-way through the tour fate stepped in and changed Johnny’s life, the band’s driver (just a hired hand from a company), decided he couldn’t bear to be away from his family. In desperation the tour manager looked around for anyone who was trustworthy and could drive, and there was Johnny. He continued working with them up until almost the end of the US leg of the 16 Tons Tour in March 1980, leaving in Detroit. By then Blackhill Enterprise had moved their whole apparatus in starting with their ‘undercover infiltrator’ Kosmo Vinyl. Things started to get organised in a big way with tour itineries and proper food on the road for band and crew. Johnny’s role became diminished as Kosmo had their ear and the chaos factor had to be eliminated by them at all costs – these were big shows we were now playing. As described in Johnny’s book, I’m sure the straw that broke the camel’s back one day was an offhand comment about washed socks….but it was like a bullet between the eyes for John and he realised that his time had passed and he no longer was part of the inner circle (I had my own epiphany at the US Festival in San Bernadino in 1983). Adding to that, he was being tempted by visions of a tequila-filled future with Joe Ely in Texas (he loved those boys), and thought he could bring the same DIY spirit to Lubbock.

        You can read it all in his excellent book ‘A riot of our Own’
        https://www.amazon.com/Riot-Our-Own-Night-Clash/dp/0571199577

        But touching on The Clash MkII, does anyone out there reading this have poignant memories of seeing them without Mick Jones? Yes, all the writers and journalists have written it up in their own technical way, but I want to know what the fans thought and felt. That is more relevant than a journalist’s article. One fan I know wrote such a heart-rending comment about what a shock and horror it was, seeing them so changed and twisted, that it almost brought me to tears. Anyone got any memories of those shows?

      1. thebaker77 Post author

        I am friends with Terry on fb but he keeps his own counsel and rarely responds. Good to hear Steve English is still out there too – he would have several books of exploits were he to write – amazing character! Thanks again David.

      2. David P

        ThankQ for answering Baker! I never bothered with Clash Mk II; personally The Clash without MJ and Topper was like Led Zep without Bonham!
        All good things are always for a fleeting monent in time!

  2. Mark

    Amazing read here Baker. The Clash were always a band to consistently excite a crowd in anyway they could. I’m not sure if you’re taking suggestions on future articles, but I would love to hear your stories and thoughts about touring the Far East with the band in 1982. Cheers

    Reply
    1. John

      Baker,
      Wiuld live to hear your stories on The Bond’s residency. As a fan I would consider that quite possibly the pinnacle of there career.

      Reply
      1. thebaker77 Post author

        Thanks for the input John – Bonds is a great episode….the Yanks had their own ‘Bill Grundy’ moment and got well outraged by what was happening in Times Square. I’ll have to do it justice some time. Cheers.

    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Thanks for the comment Joly – I certainly have no recollection of them playing or hauling their gear off-stage. Maybe they got moved to the second night allowing the Subway Sect on the bill. Don’t forget there was a Punk Festival in France a few weeks before which Malcolm was involved with but that got cancelled adding to the confusion.

      The Stinky Toys were on the bill with us a year later at Mont-de-Marsen….another monumental show. I wonder whatever happened to them?

      Thanks Joly.

      Reply
      1. Joly MacFie

        I was M-d-M in 77, and, speaking of Sinky, well recall the stinkbomb, and what happened to the culprit. Hopewe will get a blow-by-blow of that one too sometime.

      2. Fabrice

        I’m not entirely familiar with that French Punk Wave. A) I was too young and B) there s no B…The singer became a famous solo artist, Eli or Elli. Her ex (no longer with us) had a solo career and produced quite a few bands. I heard him one night on the radio but he seemed totally out of it. The Stinky Toys belong to a pool of Paris Punks, I’ve no opinion about them…As far as I remember, their contemporaries were Angel Face, Bijou, Marie et les garçons, Starshooter, Asphalt Jungle and a myriad of other small hopefuls. Asphalt Jungle stood out for many reasons …having produced a few brilliant singles (in French), Bijou was ace but not punk, I think they played Mont-de-Marsan but can’t remember which year. Anyway, it was before my time. I first saw The CLASH in ’81 and in them days Punk was almost forgotten, until Strummer came up with that “less rock, more punk” thing he told the press in ’83. 1981 was the year for me…loved it…The 101ers only posthumous vinyl had been made available and Sandinista had just been released. Brilliant music. Thanks for an excellent read, Baker! I always thought very highly of you…Thee only Englishman who drove a yellow Renault4 in Camden…+ I love reading your blog from time to time. Cheers.

      3. thebaker77 Post author

        Great insight there Fabrice on a subject much uncovered. Lets not forget Les Lou’s….those fabulous frencg girl punks that supported the Clash. They could have gone further if not for Bernie’s managerial ‘skills’.

        Thanks again Fabrice.

  3. Tim Domst

    I just looked up about half of the bands on the schedule behind Sid Vicious. Thanks for leading me down that rabbit hole, what a time that must have been.

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Like the whole saying goes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” England was going down the drain, strikes all over, half the houses in London were derelict and abandoned, oil embargoes, nothing to watch but ‘Jim’ll Fix It.’ But like during the war, it was also a time people were having the time of their lives….adversity sometimes brings out the best in humans. Cheers.

      Reply
  4. Dave

    Great stuff, thanks for bringing these great memories especially as most of us never got to be there for this pivotal moment in the punk scene. For those of us whose lives were changed by punk, I think we all had our moment when we realised this was life changing; there was no going back. “Becoming a punk” meant changing my whole group of friends at 15 – that was hard but I just knew I had to do it. Wish I could have witnessed that night at the 100 Club and your write up really transported me there for a few mins.

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Nicely summed up Dave – I lost all my ‘soul’ friends too….they carried on, drifted into Jazzfunk and Boogie. Isn’t it weird that music was so important to us – almost a religon! Thanks again.

      Reply
  5. Debbie Nixon

    Ah, nostalgia! The best bit of getting older. Fantastic stuff Baker. I came to London in 1976 to train as a nurse.Society was changing, your article summed it up, the energy and urgency of the time, especially the music…I was so lucky to experience it, this really did take me back. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Shaun Morris

    Brilliantly written piece, love all the descriptions. Wish I was there, but alas a tad too young. Interestingly, Subway Sect were the first band I ever saw play live, supporting Buzzcocks at Bournemouth Wintergardens in 1978

    Reply
  7. Pete Elliott

    Terrific read. My memory may be a bit stuffed now but I have recollections of talking later to Jeff’s Dad (Roger Horton) who, I don’t think had quite realised the enormity of what he had done!. I think the spit and broken glass left behind came as a bit of shock – but to his huge credit, he stuck by it..

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      I don’t think any of us realised the enormity of events back then. Everyone arrived at Rehearsals, at that time, through their own connections and interlacing associates. It was so haphazard, we literally took things day-to-day and at any given moment it could have ended as quickly as it had begun. Just to get a recording contract was ‘mission-accomplished’….everything else was icing on the cake. The fact that they almost made it to the top, singing about injustice, truth, war, and brutality is a testament to how far they could have gone if they’d sold out and sung about love and happiness. They could have been multi-millionaires but chose not to. In the end, they aimed so high they inevitably missed by more than most and have been derided for having such high ideals. So I guess the answer is it went so much further than anyone could have dreamt, but fell short considering how much further it could have gone. Like anything in life, when it’s over, you know it in your heart, and to keep churning out regurgitated offerings was never an option for The Clash. For me personally, I was a 17-year old kid back in ’76 so I didn’t know me arse from me elbow (probably still don’t)….I had no expectations – no deposit, no return!

      Thanks for the memory Pete.

      Reply
      1. Pete Elliott

        Here’s a bit more trivia to add to the mad context of all this!!…the club had a big Trad jazz following at that time, many of whom jived (and rather well). Most were prettty broad minded and supportive of whatever was being done to keep the club alive and relevant- but I seem to recall some cries of despair and hand-wringing at the ‘liberties’ that were being taken with ‘their’ club! I write mainly about the blues these days and all these years later there are still ‘The Blues Police’ who get excited about all the dangerous new fangled stuff…. Rien n’a Change eh?

      2. thebaker77 Post author

        Fascinating insight into something none of us probably know. The 100 Club’s tradition of Jazz is well known but I had no idea there was an ‘inner core’ rebellion about punk rock being played there.

        I guess they’d had a similar reaction a few years prior when soul nights were added – DJ Ronnie and Greg Edwards on a Thursday night. The sight of all the funkers in their mohair sweaters, plastic sandals, and Bowie dyed wedgies must have put the frighteners on. Punk was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for some of them. Write more if you have it Pete…

  8. nick haines

    Enjoyed tale…I was at the gig and much of what you say tallys with my memory…EXCEPT…I recall Siouxsie doing Lord’s Prayer…to general indifference, then Subway Sect, then Clash, then Pistols?

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Ahh, the haze of memories through the mists of 40 years of time. I only remember it that was Nick because of all the confusion of miking up Terry’s kit, then Bernie throwing a wobbler over the swastika armband and refusing to let them use it. The slanging match went on right there on stage and continued back to the dressing rom. Terry’s kit was dismantled and taken off, Paul Smith’s kit was hastily put back and re-miked. Then after TFOR had played, Terry’s kit had to come back on and be re-miked a second time. You can see in the photos Sid is using the Subways’ kit. It was such chaos.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      Reply
    2. thebaker77 Post author

      ” You don’t mention the pancake roll vendor!….”

      Ah yes, the chinese food ….in the 1970s, there was a makeshift Chinese food cafe at the far end of the 100 Club, fragrantly located between the gents’ and ladies’ toilets. Glen Matlock, bass player with the Sex Pistols recalls a wonderful story that at one of their legendary 100 Club gigs, the Chinese cook got up to deliver Glen’s order of Egg Foo Yung and unceremoniously plonked it on the stage during a blistering performance of ‘Anarchy in the UK!!!’ Hah !

      Reply
      1. Pete Elliott

        Ah, the Chinese corner. Before decimalisation you could get five prawn balls for half-a-crown….notalotta people know that!!

      2. thebaker77 Post author

        All clubs in London had to have some kind of food on sale to comply with GLC regulations about serving liquor or something. I remember Crackers sold Chicken-in-a-basket….it was insane but that’s government for you!

  9. Jaz

    Interesting read – never liked the Bromley contingent, especially swastika Siouxsie. I thought it was asking why you feel Eddie and the Hot Rods jumped on the bandwagon – I didn’t think they did but I do get why you say the Stranglers did. Shame you couldn’t write about the second night

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      I didn’t go to the second night so I can’t comment on it. We felt strongly about The Damned at the time and refused on principle. Silly really, but everyone was so polarised back then….he’s a punk, he’s a hippy, he’s a skinhead, he’s a ted, he’s a greaser – you could only be friends with your own.

      There were so many bandwagon-jumpers, too numerous too name. I remember seeing Sting at The Nashville in early ’76 as part of Cherry Vanilla’s backing band….they had no name then, long hair, flared jeans….yet they went and took the credit for introducing the masses to ‘white reggae’!! I guess history is re-written by the victors Jaz.
      Thanks for your input.

      Reply
      1. Martin

        The first time Sting played with Cherry Vanilla was in March 1977. The Nashville gig you mentioned was on 6th March. The Police were the support band then they backed Cherry Vanilla. At that time Henry Padovani was still in the band before leaving to join The Electric Chairs. Sting had short hair by then (actually, even in his previous band, Las Exit, he had short hair) and would probably have been wearing his trademark boiler-suit, certainly not flares.

  10. geppo 84

    The Baker knows !! GRAZIE , great reading , well written & very enjoyable —
    you should write as member of the last gang in town , as its really interessting for all clash fans-
    cheers from Bologna -Rude /Gh84

    Reply
  11. Rob

    Wonderful read Baker, brings back great memories of my introduction to punk, still around it today but it feels so different to back then, mass marketed and uniformed 😦 Thanks again

    Reply
  12. Pingback: The 100 Club Punk Festival 1976 (Revisited) | sideshowtog

  13. paulclash

    Great blog Baker, thanks for putting it all down. I didn’t see The Clash until ’78 although I’d been into them since the first album so it’s always interesting to read about those early gigs when it was raw and new. Fascinating to hear about how the different strands that each of the bands brought to the scene all started to weave together into a whole.

    You asked for thoughts about The Clash MkII so I will share my experience and views of that period. The Clash were my band, the thing that I orbited around from early ’77 until the day we found that Mick Jones had been sacked, which was a shock although on reflection once Topper went it felt like it was unravelling a bit. Still, I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the band or at least the idea of them so, like many of us at the time, I was prepared to give the post Jonesy-Clash a go if only out of that blind loyalty that all hardcore fans possess. I was actually initially intrigued by the idea of them going ‘back to basics’ and was prepared to give the new faces a chance to see where it would go. You also have to bear in mind that by late ’83/early ’84 the last momentum caused by the initial shock of punk was finally to run out of steam, times were changing, the ‘alternative’ mantle was shifting to indie. For a very brief moment it felt like this new version of The Clash would stave that off and we would return to something that had meant everything to us. Of course, there’s only one way to go forwards and that’s to actually go forwards, a retro trip to nostalgiaville, a second rate nostalgiaville at that, would only ever make you feel good for a short time. Still, I looked forward to seeing them live – which I did 3 times, Bristol and Brixton twice. Seeing them live was unsettling but also a little exciting initially, they dressed like it was ’77, tried to sound that way (and some of the new tunes weren’t that bad live) but generally they looked unbalanced. They had a weird dynamic which I couldn’t get used to. That said, I was reasonably pleased with the first two gigs. However, the last time I saw them at Brixton, for Arthur Scargill’s Christmas Party in December ’84, they were awful. I could finally admit to myself something that I had been denying all along, they just weren’t very good and no amount of blind loyalty could hide that. I bought ‘Cut The Crap’ again out of loyalty but have only played it through in its entirety once, it’s a mess of half-arsed ideas, some of which could have been pretty good with decent production. It was a shoddy end to what were, in their classic form, one of the life changing bands.

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Very nicely summed up Paul….you’ve probably voiced what many were feeling and ultimately were proven right on – you have to go forward! I love the idea of ‘blind faith’ and how you could forgive so much before finally giving up the ghost. I salute you sir, and thank you for the time you took to write this. I hope others who felt similarly read this and realise they were not alone. Cheers.

      Reply
  14. annetta77

    I saw the Clash live about 20 times — most of the 77 and 78 tours, plus American dates and Paris dates. There were a few duff gigs, a few average gigs, but more often than not they played brilliantly and the audiences were driven to the point of ecstasy. Never doubt the art in this band! I will never “give up the ghost’ on one of the greatest bands of all time.

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Your passion and conviction are to be applauded Annetta and yes there were some duff gigs. Being human, they had their character flaws like everyone else and anyone can have a bad day. But even at the duff gigs I never saw them give any less than 100% even if it was like flogging a dead horse. When they supported The Who, the audience were only there to see their heroes. The band played through cruel taunts and open booing from the crowd but still gave it their all.

      Thanks again for your memories.

      Reply
  15. AnaXaGoRaS

    I was 12 when I heard these bands for the first time. It was ’82. Not interested in all details of who is who (even today not that interested), but the lyrics, the messages and of course the sound was really my life changer. For me the followup with the new wave and now goth scene wouldn’t be there without the old school punk of these people. Thanks for your insights, loved it!

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Thanks for your story Ana – you are right that in some ways the details don’t matter….the message is the same today and maybe even more neccessary today than then. The future belongs to the young people who seem so distracted by their gadgets. As Joe said, “When you take people out of the equation, you got nothing.”

      Thanks again Ana.

      Reply
  16. Fred

    Great read,brings back lots of memories.Saw THE CLASH in 77 when they came over to tour Germany & it changed my life forever.You should write a book.

    Reply
  17. Martin

    I don’t know if it’s relevant to this thread but… Sadly The Clash didn’t play in the North East in 1976, the first time I saw them was at Newcastle Uni on the White Riot tour in May ’77. I was 15. To say it was a brilliant gig is an understatement. As Joe said, ‘This is the stuff. Absolute mayhem.’ It was the first major Punk gig in Newcastle and the place was heaving. I was right at the front, centre stage. Local punk Mensi formed The Angelic Upstarts as a result of that gig. Joe and Topper were arrested on the tour bus after that gig for nicking pillowcases(!) from the hotel where they were staying (‘At every hotel we were met by the law…’) and both were fined as a result. I saw The Clash at Newcastle Poly later that year. That gig is well-known because somebody threw what was reported in the press as a firework (it was actually an ignited box of matches) at Richard Hell. I met Mick Jones and Bernie Rhodes before the gig as they were out shopping. I told them the gig was a sell-out. Bernie gave me a load of ‘I Want Complete Control’ badges. Another amazing gig. As I wasn’t a student I had to get signed-in by somebody who attended the Poly, I had to wait almost all day to get signed-in but it was well worth it. The next time The Clash played at the Newcastle Poly loads of fans couldn’t get in (‘On the last tour my mates couldn’t get in, I’d open up the back door but they’d get run out again…’) so somebody kicked the back doors in and loads of fans piled in. The Clash not only changed the way people dressed and thought but they changed people’s lives. A cliche I know, but very true.

    There will be something about The Clash in the North East 1977 – ’80 (live reviews, interviews, photos) in the book ‘Gob On The Tyne’ due to be published early next year.

    http://www.northeastpunk.co.uk

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Entirely relevant and incredible memories there Martin. Changing lives, changing modes of thinking was the ultimate concept and proved they transcended their medium.

      Thanks for the information about the book – I hope everyone reading this buys a copy and supports the cause….the 99% must do something about the 1% who continue to bring this world to its knees. If I can do anything to help the book, feel free to ask.

      Cheers, Baker.

      Reply
      1. Martin

        There were several interviews published in a few fanzines in the North East including one when The Clash (plus The Slits and Subway Sect) played at Newcastle Uni in May ’77. I have that and a few others which will be included in the book plus some previously unpublished photos of the band on and off stage. When The Clash played at The Mayfair in Newcastle in 1980 a local weird electronic duo supported them, Paul Simonon had heard their single which is how they got the support slot. The audience hated them and they were virtually booed off stage. When The Clash played Newcastle City Hall they were supported by a local poet. He had longish hair, I say had because Joe, etc. cornered him backstage before the gig and took a pair of scissors to his locks and he emerged minutes later sporting a Punk hairdo! In the mid-’80s The Clash did a busking tour of the North East including Newcastle playing acoustic versions of old and new songs. Some of the tracks were released on the ‘Friday Night Saturday Morning’ CD.

        Do you have any Clash memorabilia (photos, tickets, interviews, etc.) from any gigs they played in the North East (Newcastle, Middlesbrough) during 1977 – ’80? (which is the period the book covers.) If so, I’d love to see what you’ve got!

      2. thebaker77 Post author

        I’m afraid I don’t have any memorabilia from that time Martin….shame on me (or you can blame my mum).

        Great stories there though and I love to hear the fan’s opinions. The electronic duo you mention was NY band Suicide. They were actually highly regarded for their creativity at a time when no one else was doing that (in that way). They were one of the first bands to even use the phrase ‘punk rock!’

        Alan Vega died just this year – check it out…thanks again Martin.
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_(band)

      3. Martin

        For some reason i couldn’t reply in the relevant place so I’m doing so here:

        Yes, I knew that US duo Suicide supported The Clash and were hated by The Clash fans. At one gig, in Glasgow, they had an axe(!) thrown at them. However, the duo I mentioned who supported The Clash at The Mayfair in Newcastle was a local band (duo) called Flesh who could be compared to Suicide. Paul Simonon liked their first (in fact only) 7″ and wanted them to be the support act for the Newcastle gig. As I said, they went down like a lead balloon but the abuse was only verbal, ‘Get off!’ not physical as experienced by Suicide.

      4. thebaker77 Post author

        Great info and memories there Martin – I wonder how many others remember ‘Flesh’. And in the ‘Where Are They Now’ category, I wonder whatever happened to them?

    1. thebaker77 Post author

      The car no doubt went to the junkyard at some point. I’ve seen the CLA5H number plate for auction on Ebay a couple of times over the last few years. My drum spares flightcase is still being used by some lighting company in south London to hold a disco mirror-ball (hah).

      The guitar spares flightcase – The Pilgrim – is owned by someone in the Midlands. It is sitting in his garage under a tarpulin. I contacted him several years ago to try to get it displayed in the Clash pop-up shop when the boxset came out. I thought it would be cool for visitors to see with all Joe and Paul’s graffiti on it. But he wants to make a huge profit on his investment and it turned out to be impossible.

      Thanks again for your input.

      Reply
  18. David Rees

    Baker

    Excellent read, the only thing that wishes I was a little older, I was 13 in 76, loved the music but didn’t fully experience the “scene”.

    The term Punk has been hackneyed and you talk of bands bandwagoning. Who would you say were the real Punk bands and what pretenders didn’t cut the mustard?

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Ahh, that’s such a leading question David and entirely subjective depending on one’s timeframe and perspective. On the night in question I could probably only point to the five I already mentioned. Sham 69 seemed to have it right for a brief while but very quickly got infiltrated by right-wing skinheads. Later bands like The Alarm and 999 seemed to try to emulate what had already happened but at least in the same spirit.

      I could never bring myself to regard any of Stiff’s stable of artists as true punk but I’m sure many will correct me for saying so. Theatre Of Hate seemed to be true to the spirit of ’76 but they only had limited success. Once two-tone came along the public’s appetite seemed to turn again – obviously the political backdrop had a lot to do with that. There was a rising tide of right-wing sentiment back then with the National Front gaining seats and Thatcher looming on the horizon all of which gave impetus for the left-wing backlash, the miner’s strikes, and the ‘gig in the park’….the Rock Against Racism show in Victoria Park in ’78.

      Sorry, I seem to gone off on a tangent….its hard to seperate music, politics, social trends as they were all so interconnected back then, unlike today where the latest fashions are decided but multi-national corporations and music stars are picked by celebrities on The Voice, Britains got Talent, etc….what a world, eh?

      Who do you think fit the bill?

      Baker.

      Reply
      1. David Rees

        Thanks for your response.

        As an aside I was at The Rainbow at what was supposed to be Sham 69’s last gig and it was that night they were going to showcase the new Sex Pistols with Pursey and Treganna taking the place of Rotten and Vicious, It never happened as 6 songs into the set some mindless idiots decided to attack a young Asian lad, Pursey called time on it,

        It always annoys me when I see latest “Punk” compilation and find it contains Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson etc. A lot of it was timing I suppose and a lot of bands were swept along by the “new wave”,

        I’ve long been a fan of Buzzcocks but what makes them punk and not the Vibrators? My list would definitely contain The Ruts. To me Motorhead was more punk in 1977 than those who claimed punkhood. And what about the Americans?

        If we could broaden the era a year or two longer I’d include Joy Division, SLF and Angelic Upstarts but like you said, it’s all subjective.

      2. thebaker77 Post author

        Exactly David….I think in the end we just have to go with what the consensus opinion is of what is considered ‘punk,’ otherwise we get wrapped up with intangible arguements and details.

        For sure, it started in the US where the term was first coined. Malcolm managed the New York Dolls for a year apparently without being able to mould them to his will with any great success. He brought back that dynamism and creative intensity and fostered an English version of what he’d experienced. Thank heavens he failed with the NYD….

        Cheers.

  19. brian

    HI there. Thank you for a nice piece of writing and for sharing your memories of an important cultural event and your roll in it.
    I ask the following, not to be smart, but genuinely interested in your perspective on this.
    You mention bandwagon jumpers like the Stranglers and Eddie and the Hot Rods changing their hairstyles, but is that not what most everyone involved did, at that point, to some extent ?
    Is that not what we all do, to some extent when we are young, and particularly if we see something we are inspired by and compelled to feel like joining in?
    Joe Strummer certainly changed his hairstyle and clothes and his music and by all accounts so did Mick Jones (I have seen pictures of him in flares and very long hair).
    I’ve seen images of Lydon as a long haired Hawkwind fan, Sid with Bowie haircut and flares.
    Doesn’t everyone to some extent jump on a bandwagon, if they see something as having some value and are inspired to become involved.
    I became inspired by and to some extent involved with punk quite some time after the events you describe, and was inspired to become involved in my own way, yet fashion was indeed a part of it, and a new haircut.
    The ‘punk attitude’ was very important and inspiring to me.
    Bandwagon jumping would not be an inaccurate description, though for me it was more a case of being inspired, I became a fan, but it inspired me that there were like minded people, and helped me to pursue areas of creativity outside of music and alter my life in ways I may or may not have done so otherwise.
    I am being longwinded here – my question is doesn’t everyone bandwagon jump to some extent, and didn’t most at that event cut their hair at some point as a symbol of being involved with a new, or renewed way of life / thought / culture ?
    Is your comment about The Stranglers because you feel that their new haircuts were empty gestures, that they lacked the same attitude or ways of thought, that it was purely a badge of convenience ?
    I’m sorry if it appears that I have taken an insignificant part of your article and focused solely on that. That isn’t the case, I enjoyed your writing and memories and insights.

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Yes, your conclusions are correct Brian. At the start, we thought in our naivety that punk could change not just minds but the whole music industry. If you could play three chords, why couldn’t you start a band? The record companies controlled everything, why did it have to be that way. So the originators started out with a sound, a look, an attitude.

      Later, bands started or morphed disingenously to that look and sound just to cash in on the new money-making craze. Record companies, seeing the cash-cow they were missing, created bands of their own.

      Even established bands like the Stones and the Who trimmed their hair a little, speeded up their records a bit, and made more money than any of the originators. So they were the real winners I guess, if you look at it that way.

      I’d say INTENT was the key.

      Thanks for taking the time to think long and hard on this Brian. I’m no music expert, I just comment on what I saw and heard.

      Cheers.

      Reply
      1. brian

        Hi there.
        many thanks for your response.
        Yes – INTENT.
        I was really looking at it from the perspective of folk getting involved merely because it was a fashion, and no more, looked good, could appear like a rebel with the right postuering, which I know some of my friends and acquaintances did, those that were fans and those in (minor) bands alike, where for all of us, cashing in wasn’t a part of the equation. When you put it from the perspective of those bands you mention changing to further their careers, that is somewhat more distasteful. To this day I live by the ideals I developed in those days, from punk and other sources, and it has actually cost me ‘career opportunities’ rather than the other way around.
        Ethics can cost you, but in the long run far more enriching than a pile of il begotten cash at someone elses expense.
        Reading your comments gives me the impression of a man who has held onto his ethics, which I respect.
        Will keep an eye out for your next blog entry, I found this one and your interaction with the comments most interesting.
        More power to you elbow my friend !

      2. thebaker77 Post author

        Thank you for your heartfelt comments Brian. It’s a complicated subject and can be viewed in many ways. Yes, they set out to change peoples minds, fashions, attitudes – so when you’ve done that you can’t blame anyone for picking up a guitar and changing their fashion. Its all a question of intentions and being true to your ideals, as you say.

        For example, a few months ago Bob Geldof charged $100,000 to speak about world poverty. To talk about starving people….that’s just disgusting and he should be held accountable as a ‘man of the people….’

        http://yournewswire.com/hero-for-the-people-bob-geldof-wants-100k-for-speech-on-poverty/

        The Clash were vilified in the British press after the second album because they’d started touring the US. But they stuck to their guns, playing free at benefit concerts and selling two albums then three albums for the price of one. All at great cost to themselves. That they were able to stick to such principles while laboring under the burdens of record company pressure and commercial constraints is a testament to their commitment to at least TRY to make a difference.

        The Clash inspired young people to pick up guitars AND books. The Clash taught us all that it was alright to give a shit. And The Clash dared to question the so-called facts of life: Why should you work in a boring factory and waste your life toiling to make profit for a rich corporation? Why should you die in a war under the illusion of fighting for peace and democracy? And why should you continue to accept totalitarian jack-book brutality and injustice from the very regimes you vote for and place in power?

        But, in the final analysis, there is always human frailty. I guess you can’t fight nature – we rebel against our parents, only to eventually become them. To prove a punk band from the squats of London could conquer the world, The Clash had to become the very thing they set out to destroy. In the end it just proved too high a price to pay.

        I think Joe summed up the question quite succinctly in ‘White Man In Hammersmith Palais’:-

        “The new groups are not concerned,
        With what there is to be learned,
        They got Burton suits, ha you think it’s funny,
        Turning rebellion into money.”

        Thanks again for your thoughts Brian. You are always welcome here.

      3. brian

        For what it’s worth, I always viewed Subway Sect as perhaps having the most punk attitude of all the bands, no posing, no fixation on a self conscious image, no sponsorship from a boutique, a musical style very different from the others. That was an outsiders perspective anyway. You were close to them so it may have been different.

      4. thebaker77 Post author

        Yes you are quite right. At a time when everyone was trying to do their utmost to be outrageous in safety pins and bondage gear, the Subways’ were always trying the exact opposite wearing grey and appearing as ‘normal’ as possible. There was also always tremendous discussion about the direction of the band, as Vic wanted to dissuade audience participation. He had always talked about performing ‘furniture music’ or music that was so unlistenable that the audience would ignore the band. There was much internal debate about how one could destroy rock’n’roll, and yet be within rock’n’roll.

  20. Andrew

    Souizie who…wanker that adopted a native american name and then wears a swastika…she was crap and middle class tosser at that…arty farty nothing else

    Reply
  21. Max Dyson

    I was there for one of those evenings and saw the Sex Pistols but can’t recall too many other details….perchance I had seen them at their first gig at St martins and then a week later backing Roogalator at Central so was intrigued they hadn’t just disappeared….

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Yes Max, its the details that disappear over the years. You were fortunate to see them in their earliest form. The Subway Sect used to really like them at the beginning, when they were chaotic and couldn’t tune their instruments. Once they could tune up the Subways’ lost interest….!

      Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Hah! Yes the next chapter….’How I met this drunken, homeless bum lying in the street on the Bowery called Vaughn Martinian who ruined my life through drugs, liquor, and gambling.’ A real page-turner…!

      Reply
  22. WPOD

    Great read… My old flatmate was one of the hundreds of drummers who turned up to try and land a gig with the Clash. Not his style, though. He came back moaning about how they wanted him to play like he was in the Glitter Band – and the song was London’s Burning! Lol…

    Reply
  23. John

    Ironically as I sit here reading the posts, I’m standing in one of the venues where The Clash played in 1982. I’m here at The Class of ’23 Penn Ice Hockey Rink in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I believe it would have been around August of ’82. A month prior to them opening for the Who in September, 1982 at JFK Stadium. JFK served as the U.S. site for Live Aid in ’85. It’s since been torn down to make way for newer stadium venues. Me and my teenage buddies snuck into the hockey rink to watch the warmup. We were caught by the road crew and asked to leave. Outside we witnessed members of the band and Ellen Foley among others hanging out. We were the first ones then once the doors opened up and ended in the front row. A great show and one of the very last with topper still at the drum kit. Afterwards we made it back stage to say hi and collect autographs. I also left with a finished Joe Strummer Dos Equis beer bottle. That lasted a few weeks in my bedroom until my mom figured it was trash and tossed it! Oh well….good times and great memories. God Bless Joe!

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Very nice memories there John….I think we may have played two shows there at the rink – were you first or second night?(Burning Spear were very late to the first). The sound at those circupar rinks was usually dreddful out from but I’m glad you and your friends had a great time.

      It was a long way from the confines of the 100 Club to a 3,000 capacity ice rink but the band still gave it their all.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
      1. John

        Both shows for the Penn Rink Baker,
        The other shows I was attended were:

        Bonds 29 May…2nd night of the residency.
        Penn Rink shows
        The first Asbury Park show in ’82. Terry drumming…possibly one of his very first shows back at the kit. I was unable to make the second show in Asbury the next day.
        Finally the El Paso show in ’83 which was part of the warm ups leading to the U.S. Festival. Fans were a little destructive at the El Paso show. I recall the story the next day on the news basically showing what the fans had torn up…seats, etc. All of this of course when you had to buy tickets through Ticketron. That was an expierience in itself…hanging and bonding with fans for hours waiting for that window to open. Hoping that you’d get the closest ticket to the stage. Today’s kids just push a button!

      2. thebaker77 Post author

        Isn’t that the truth John, and part of today’s problem maybe….”all at the click of a button.” Everything so accessible and therefore degraded in value. Easy come, easy go…

        Thanks John.

  24. nick haines

    Hi….I know it’s late in the day but…..I responded to your memories of 100 Club gig and pointed out a factual error (as I saw it)..ie Siouxsie played first, then Subway Sect. You were nice enough to reply, but I wasn’t sure if you were agreeing with me or not!
    I was there….and so was Viv Albertine from the Slits. She writes in her book (page 136 I think)…”Siouxsie is on first.” Is it possible that both Viv and I are mistaken?

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Thanks for the comment Nick. As I said in the introduction, everyone remembers things differently. Memory is such a fickle traitor and rarely to be trusted, especially over 40 years. But I was working on the stage, moving the equipment on and off stage, and that’s how it went down, setting up and dismantling drum kits SEVEN times But maybe others in the crowd remember it another way, it’s so long ago.

      To give your comment justice I did check sources and everything online from the Guardian to Wiki lists the bands with Subway Sect first. The literary sources don’t give any help with Marcus Gray even saying The Flowers Of Romance used the Pistol’s equipment which is completely inaccurate (no surprise there as he states I left working for the Clash in 1980 and had a major car accident – don’t know where he got that one from….someone obviously yanking his chain). But even the 100 Club’s own advertisement lists Stinky Toys playing first so you can see how events can get distorted.

      Either way, the details of the show where not the focus of the blog….as long as I was able to impart the feel and atmosphere of the show and the era, then I achieved what I set out to do. Here’s to a fantastic memory and an event to be proud to be part of whether you were in the crowd or on the stage. We saw times that are rarely glimpsed in the average person’s lifetime.

      Cheers Nick.

      Reply
      1. Rich

        Loved the post – thank you!! I saw the Clash almost every time they played in Philly including the Tower Theater, the Who show, both nights at the Penn Ice Rink, and Mark II at the Spectrum – as well as the first night at Asbury Park (when the cherry bomb went off during STH) plus another show at SUNY Binghamton. I’ve never been able to describe the show at The Tower (March ’80). However, your summation of hearing White Riot for the 1st time gave words to my first clash experience. I didn’t realize I was hearing Safe European Home until the song was nearly finished. I remember thinking – this is really loud and intense. I’m not a punker and I’d gone hoping to hear Train in Vain, Rudie Can’t Fail, Spanish Bombs, Lost in the Supermarket and my favorite – Police & Thieves. Dare I say a Damascus moment. The first night at Penn rink, fatigue was setting in as we stood for a couple of hours waiting for Burning Spear – at one point their roadies started taking their equipment down – then they were putting it back up. This was an issue with the Who show – it was a pretty warm day and we all had to endure sets by the Hooters & Santana. By the time the Clash took the stage, the Who fans were ready to get on with it. It wasn’t the Clash – In Philly, younger Who fans were also Clash fans. Not to mention, the Clash are a nighttime band not a sit in the sun & sip margarita band. The second night at the Penn Arena was great. Burning spear were on time & the Clash seemed rested & energized.

        You asked if anyone saw a Mark II show – which I did in April of ’84. We knew what was up with Mick because we’d heard an interview Joe did with Pierre Robert on the way to the Spectrum. The Spectrum was a sports arena which held 18,000 for hockey & basketball. However, the stage was set up @ center court – with black curtains strung-up blocking your view of the empty seats behind. I d’ guess 9,000 tix were available, but it wasn’t sold out – maybe 2/3 full. It’s difficult to quickly describe the impact of the show – or lack there of, in part because the bar had been set so high, maybe too high, expectations and all that. My first recollection is that there were a lot of calisthenics – from the band (which included Nick failing to stick the landing and ending up on his ass) and the crowd, many of whom were engaged in the attention starved activity known as slam dancing – all of which gave off the impression that everyone was trying too hard to be hard, with the exception of the folks in the bleachers who were content to holler cash-bar after every song until the band finally played it. There were stacks of televisions all along the back line. Joe came out looking more like Jim Morrison than himself with black leather pants & jacket. The first thing he did was quite randomly attack one of the TVs as if it had stolen his girlfriend – which maybe it had, who knows. In my opinion, the music was a real mixed bag. With the exception of Casbah, when the band played tunes from ’80 forward they often found a groove which was enjoyably listenable (clampdown, mag 7, radio clash, broadway, are you ready for war, brixton, armagideon time). With the exception of Tommy Gun, I thought that when they tried to play things from their earlier days that was when they came across more like a robotic cover band feigning anger for proper affect; But that only constituted about one-third of the show. All n all, I wouldn’t say they embarrassed themselves. I liked the show, but didn’t love it – which in some ways might actually be worse.

      2. thebaker77 Post author

        What a marvellous comment Rich – thank you for taking the time to give everyone the benefit of your memories. I’m sure it will bring back similar feelings from many who were there too.

        It was a shame that The Who supports had to be played under such duress and not such a good experience for anyone who had never seen The Clash. We had to set-up in front of the Who’s backline and never once got anything like a sound-check. At many of the shows the band were treated to open bitterness from the fans that were only there to see The Who. The entire 45-minute set was played against cat-calls and fan anger. At one show, as Mick sang, “Should I stay or Should I Go?” the audience were shouting back, “GO!” As distasteful as it was to have to play those cavernous, soulless stadiums, it was what the job had become. The dressing rooms were sometimes 1/4 mile from the stage and transportation back and forth frequently had to be used. Cordons of security had to be crossed so Digby and I found ourselves increasingly having to use walkie-talkies to communicate with the dressing room. Everything was run tight and by the numbers. Security and stadium personnel had a typed schedule of when everyone was arriving and leaving – nothing was done spontaneously. It was a far cry from the 100 Club back in 1976.

        I was against the band supporting The Who right from the start, but then I was one of the ‘old guard’ and was starting to be treated like an old dinosaur who wanted things to stay the same I guess. I kind of felt Joe knew they were making a mistake and that there was nothing else to do but make the mistake anyway. His unshakable trust in Bernie’s instincts once again won the day. In my own mind I was sure that there must have been another way, but at the time I couldn’t find it. There was such a fervent assumption (mainly from Kosmo and Bernie), that they had come as far as they could and to go on they had to do this. I don’t suppose there was anything anyone could have said that would have changed the decision. But in hindsight, the power of video was just emerging and MTV would go onto reach millions on any given day. With the new technologies emerging maybe the band didn’t have to take the stadium route. Maybe there would have been another way. It called into question what they were doing and why. Their dilemma was unique; in order to evolve they had to discard most of the foundations they had built their house on. How could they sing about being a garage-band when they were playing to 50,000 seaters? (except in irony.) And yet the dreadful alternative presented to them by Kosmo and Bernie, was to chug along, tour after tour, playing the same smaller venues, while music and culture passed them by. The audiences would get younger, while they would grow older and inevitably become an irrelevant cliché. I know now there was only one way forward – evolve or die! But there was more than one way to evolve. That was the terrible tragedy of that tour and Mick’s eventual firing.

        Great memories on The Clash MkII shows Rich….I never saw any of them and I don’t think they have ever been documented so this is all new information to me and therefore thoroughly engrossing reading.

        I thank you again kind sir.

        The Baker.

  25. nick haines

    Hi…the devil is in the detail, but won’t press the point re running order. Always makes me laugh when people say they were there and how the Buzzcocks/Damned supported the Pistols…how good/bad Stinky Toys were etc! My main frustration has been that the people who care about the gig still don’t believe me…and the rest don’t give a damn either way! There’s one pic taken by Caroline Coon which I’m 50% sure shows me at front of queue…Siouxsie/Severin etc posing while I look glum and stare at the ground.

    Reply
  26. Pingback: A 40 años del Festival Punk del Club 100 de Londres | Radio Valvular

  27. Alan Rider

    I wasn’t there as I wasn’t in London at the time and was way too young anyhow, but this is such a brilliant first hand account that I now actually feel as if I had been there too. Maybe I will convince myself I was, just like the thousands of others who claim to have been there. It is a bit unfair though to describe The Stranglers as “bandwagon jumpers”. They had their own thing going and did some brilliant shows. Punk was (is) a broad church. You’ve guessed I was a bit of a fan 🙂

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      I agree Alan, The Stranglers did have their own thing going before, during, and after the punk days so maybe I was a bit hard on them calling them bandwagon-jumpers. I guess it’s only natural to want to try to appeal to the prevailing trend and everyone no matter who or when, wants to sell as many records as possible.
      To this day ‘Golden Brown’ remains a spell-binding track to me.

      Thanks for the comment Alan.

      Reply
  28. John Lapwood

    Fascinating. That gig must be one of the most written about in rock history, but nothing i’ve read about it before conveys the story from the ‘other’ side so vividly. You forget how raw the whole thing was. The Clash, Pistols, Banshees, subway sect are all to a greater or lesser extent punk institutions and you forget the gig was a first off or near first off for most of them – and more or less just another gig.
    Also loved your passage about the 100 club during daytime. I’ve been down there countless times since I was first old enough (1983) and the thing I and most others love about it is that it really hasn’t changed. stopping the pissers flooding would ruin the place!
    I love punk and what it did and was/is about – and the music which came out of it – and this piece offers a completely new perspective on something we all think we know about – and actually don’t.

    Reply
    1. thebaker77 Post author

      Yes it was all so haphazardly put together and even up to soundcheck there was no real certainty that this thing was going to work out. It was much the same with the ‘Midnight Special’ at the Screen On The Green in Islington. Seemingly out of the blue there was suddenly a live show arranged by Malcolm McClaren. The intensity of rehearsals was quite noticeably ratcheted up. Extra guitar strings, drum skins, and plectrums were needed and a stage was required. Fortunately just across the old railway yard adjacent to Rehearsals, was a company that manufactured its own sectional staging owned by a bearded man who we only knew as Laurie. Bernie seemed to know him and so that was what was used. He also had a large van which was used to transport the equipment as well as the staging to the Screen on the Green. We would eventually go on to use four sections of Laurie’s staging as a drum riser for the first two Clash tours of England.

      The night before the show there was unexpected talk that the Buzzcocks couldn’t (or wouldn’t) perform, and all eyes fell on the Subway Sect as a replacement. I remember how apprehensive they were at this news, without having an adjustment period to prepare for their first live show (also still only having four numbers). The following day, Paul Smith and I loaded up the Subways’ gear into my car and headed to Islington. We spent most of the day parked opposite the theatre, each of us taking it in turns to go inside while the other watched the gear in the car. The other three members of the Subway Sect had stayed in Barnes as we still had no idea if they were going to play or not.

      Inside the theatre there was a hive of activity moving the staging and equipment between the movie shows (The Outlaw Josie Wales was playing). Some of The Clash were there and Mickey Foote of course, and I noticed one or two of the Sex Pistols and their entourage. Joe Strummer had seemed to have drawn the short straw and was left to stand guard over their equipment while the others went off to put up homemade posters. I brought him a cup of tea from a cafe a few doors down. He told me a couple of blokes had tried to nick their gear and he had had to warn them off. I lent him my ‘Crook-lock’ out of my car as a weapon for him to hold onto until the others came back and hung there for a while. (I never did get that Crook-lock back).

      As the day wore on, the familiar faces of Souxsie Sioux, Little Debbie, Steve Severin, Marco Pirroni, Billy Idol, Sue Catwoman, and the rest of Bromley contingent and other early ‘punks’ I recognized started milling around outside the movie theatre. There was a phone box opposite the theatre from where I made hourly calls to Vic and Bernie. Malcolm and Bernie were still sorting out whatever problems were preventing the Buzzcocks from playing. As it turned out, the Buzzcocks were eventually able to play and by late afternoon we were given the definitive ‘no’ by Bernie. I wanted to stay and help with the show but I had the Subways’ equipment in my car to worry about so Paul Smith and I headed back to Rehearsals, unloaded and drove back to Barnes to get drunk.

      Thanks for the comment and sentiments John.

      The Baker.

      Reply
    2. nick haines

      Actually, The Clash were the least ‘raw’ of the 4 bands that night..possibly due to their material which was very concise and memorable. They played like dogs straining at a collective leash. Siouxsie was an interesting noise for 5 minutes and a bore for 15. Subway Sect were a musical Kafka novel…and had some good songs..Pistols were rough…and played horrible version of Substitute. You say it’s one of the most written about events…funnily enough although the gig is mentioned many times…there haven’t been many accurate ‘blow by blow” stories told…Was going to do it myself.

      Reply
      1. thebaker77 Post author

        I think you should Nick….far better to hear opinions from individuals who were actually there than writers and journalists who merely quote others.
        Thanks for the comment.

  29. Martyn

    A fantastic read. I’d love to hear your views on the end of the first incarnation of Subway Sect and the role of Mr B Rhodes in that.

    Reply
  30. Pingback: The 100 Club Punk Festival 1976 (Revisited) — The Baker – The Punk Rock Hobo

  31. Steve

    This is such a wonderful read – not to mention all the follow-up comments too.

    Is there any chance you could one day post a stand-alone piece about the Lou’s? The (very few) scattered recordings are great but there’s frustratingly little about them online, let alone in the various punk histories. It would be fascinating to read a first-hand account of them and how it all went horribly wrong under Bernie…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s