THE CLASH'S WHITE RIOT tour – the package that took punk properly to provinces in May 1977 – was nearly over before it began, explains Pat Gilbert in the new issue of MOJO magazine. Clash roadie Steve Connolly had only just finished painting the group’s backline bright pink when the lorry came to pick it all up. The amps, speakers and flight cases were still dripping wet.
“It was an absolute shambles,” recalls Clash drum tech and handyman Barry ‘Baker’ Auguste, who has never before spoken publicly about his seven years working with The Clash. “We’re going out on this huge tour, and we can’t put the [protective] covers on the equipment because the paint isn’t dry. We get to the venue and the speakers are damaged and have to be repaired, all the grilles have to be screwed back on… It was complete chaos before it even started.”
In MOJO 285 – in UK stores now – Pat Gilbert covers the legendary tour that took The Clash, plus support acts The Jam, Slits, Buzzcocks, Subway Sect and The Prefects to all corners of the UK, plus the very real riots, love rivalry and random roughhousing that ensued.
Guitarist Mick Jones sustained a black eye after a confrontation with on-off girlfriend, The Slits’ Viv Albertine and her Subway Sect beau, Rob Symmons, but that paled next to the anarchy that took hold at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, which saw crowds rip up seats and lob them at the stage.
MOJO’s Gilbert probes such legends as the tour’s notorious financial chaos, and the various explanations that have arisen for The Jam’s sacking/retirement from the fray.
“The Jam left because they thought they should be headlining the show.”
“The Jam left because they thought they should be headlining the show,” reckons Auguste. “[Clash bassist] Paul [Simonon] was constantly taking the piss out of them. We all thought they were a mockery. Their dad [manager John Weller] would come into the dressing room and start bossing everyone around. In the end, he said they wanted more money. But Joe [Strummer] in particular felt they weren’t right for the tour. Joe and Paul [Weller] later became good friends, but then there was a lot of animosity.”
It’s no wonder newbie Clash drummer Topper Headon started to ask what he’d let himself in for.”
“I remember thinking, Shall I just get up and do a runner?” he says. “It was totally new to me. I was scared.”
Accompanying Pat Gilbert’s riotous Clash piece in the latest MOJO magazine, we have Jimi Hendrix: His Revolution In 27 Songs; Roger Waters picking another fight; Dan Auerbach on life in The Black Keys and beyond. Plus: The Selecter, U2, Father John Misty, Depeche Mode, Steve Earle, Radiohead, Warren Zevon, Scott Walker, The National, Dylan in ’63, MC5 in jail, Ride, Chris Cornell, Gregg Allman, Saxa, and more.