I Clash with the Clash: A Rock and Roll Story

OK, I’m exaggerating. I didn’t really Clash with the Clash, but I did meet two members of the band. One was very rude, while the other was extremely pleasant.

Here’s what happened:

During the 80’s I lived in Vermont. Believe it or not, quite a few bands pased through. It may have been because Burlington, Vermont was about 5 or 6 hours from New York, 4 hours from Boston and about 2 hours from Montreal.

Maybe some bands had an extra Monday or Tuesday night. The shows were always during the week.

Anyway, The Clash put on a concert at Patrick Gym, part of the University of Vermont (UVM).  As I recall I do not think the show was sold out, so I was able to buy a ticket that night.

The Clash were very amazing. This was part of their Combat Rock tour, so the entire stage was decked out with a camouflage setting.

They ripped thorough a amazing set of many of their songs. The band was very bare bones, they did not use a lot of special effects. The show was a long one. I was extremely pleased to have seen them.

I had been a fan since their London Calling album. They were a very influential band as far as I’m concerned. I think The Clash really influenced many of the post-punk and new wave bands that were to follow. I particularly like Sandinista! This was a very melodic album which really let the band shine thorough.

The concert left me quite satisfied. I felt I had witnessed a legendary performance. And to this day, I feel that is true.

After the show, I decided to check out my favorite bar, Hunt’s. Hunts was a great bar because not only did they have live music almost every night, but they had big name bands playing there.

On this night there was a band called The Brains, or The Bad Brains. I’m not really sure. Hunts was a very small place, with not many tables. Since I was there late, I decided to hang up at  the bar. I ordered a beer.

With-in a short while, there was a commotion at the front door. The Clash had arrived to check out the show. Mick Jones, stood next to me. “Hey, Mick”, I said “can I buy you a drink?”. He ignored me.

Just then someone took out a camera and started to take some pictures of the band. The Clash’s manager shot up his hand in front of the camera. “I don’t want any pictures of the band in boring places,” he said. The camera was put away.

I looked over to my right and standing next to me was Joe Strummer. “Joe, great show tonight”.

“Thanks,” he said. He looked exhausted. I asked him if I could buy him a beer.

“Sure”, he responded. And for a couple of minutes, he wasn’t a rock star, just an ordinary guy, making conversation at the bar.

I didn’t ask for an autograph or anything. I did not want to bother him in any way. We spoke for a couple of minutes and he left to join the rest of the band.

Joe Strummer died a couple of years ago. He left the Clash and had a successful solo career. But for a couple of minutes of his life, at a bar in Vermont, he took out time to speak with someone who really enjoyed his music. Thanks Joe. I really appreciated that.

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