a late addition to the tour and the last night according to johnny Greens A Riot of our Own pg99
I was just re-reading Johnny Green’s “Riot of our Own” and when I got to the bit about the Bury St Edmunds gig (July 14 1978) my mind wandered back almost 30 years, to when I was 16.
I had taken two extra things to Bury St Edmunds that day - a “White Man in Hammersmith Palais” single sleeve (to be autographed) and one of those piano-style tape recorders (for bootlegging purposes). Positioning myself at the front, right-hand side, I thought life would be easier if I just placed the tape recorder on the stage; that way I could forget about it and enjoy the band. Paul Simonon was over on that side & when he made his darting runs forward he kept kicking the tape-recorder. At first I thought it was accidental, but he kept on doing it. I could see he was getting annoyed, because he couldn’t manage to knock it off the stage. Whenever it went close to the edge I simply stopped bouncing around for a second and moved it back.
Half-way through the gig this typical Camden Town rockabilly type came over and grabbed the tape-recorder. I obviously looked crest-fallen.
“You can come and get it after the show,” he said, not at all unpleasantly. It was Johnny Green of course. But I was still a bit concerned that I would never see it again, and tape recorders (in those days) were expensive items.
After the encores I said to the people I had come with that I was going to try and get my belongings back. I think they wished me good luck. In those days I didn’t really drink, so my only courage was righteous indignation at the loss of my tape-recording equipment. I soon found the backstage area and also the Camden Town rockabilly. True to his word he gave me the tape recorder back, minus the tape. We chatted amiably about the possibility of recording the band live, the reprehensibility of amateur bootleggers and (his words, not mine) the fact that the Clash never really sounded as good as they should when these live recordings surfaced. And then he invited me in for a drink.
What a scene of utter debauchery ! Half pint cans of Heineken and bowls full of peanuts. Mick Jones sitting in a chair looking pleased with himself, Paul Simonon glowering away at nobody in particular (surely not me). I helped myself to a can of lager and some peanuts. Then Mr Rockabilly decided to introduce me to Mick Jones as the person who was trying to bootleg the show. Well, he couldn’t have been more good humoured about it.
“Who’s a naughty bootlegger then ?” he said. “Hold your hand out.”
I held my hand out. He tried to whack it, and I pulled it away just in time. Backstage with the Clash was just like being at school, but with free beer and peanuts. I was probably on my third can of Heineken, sitting on the floor, when somebody said,
“Hey, what are you doing here ?”
“Oh, it’s alright,” I said, “he said it was okay.”
By this time I considered the Camden Town rockabilly as my friend and passport to beer & nuts. He really was a good guy.
The Clash, now I know, had finished their tour. They were in no rush to do anything. They lingered around in the empty Corn Exchange chatting to the fans. They all signed the “White Man” sleeve, even Paul, bless him. And afterwards, if the Camden Town rockabilly’s account is true, the roadies got paid & had a whale of a time.
So, there does exist a tape of that Bury St Edmunds gig. It was confiscated by Johnny Green & was probably recorded over or thrown in a bin, or strewn around the streets of Bury St Edmunds by the road crew. Tim Joyce
The Clash in Suffolk
The Clash played Bury St Edmunds Corn Exchange in 1978 supported by The Coventry Specials (who later dropped the 'Coventry').
The promoter for the Bury gig was John Hessenthaler:
"The punk thing was a bit of a no-go area, because on the Sex Pistols' Anarchy tour, which The Clash were on, many of the advertised gigs had been cancelled because of local council policy, swearing etc.
"It was a July gig and the local council tried to stop it, but because I had a contract with them I insisted it went ahead.
"There were rumours that there was going to be trouble, but that didn't happen.
"There was also a rumour that Bob Dylan was going to come to the gig, because he was a labelmate and in the country for the Blackbushe Aerodrome festival, but that didn't happen."
The promoter estimates that tickets cost around £2.50 and the capacity of the Corn Exchange was around 900 - around double what it is in 2010.
"It was a great night and quite interesting from a business point of view," said John.
"I'd agreed a fee of £250 with The Clash's management and they were so convinced that it was going to be rammed, that they rang me up a few days before the gig wanting to change it so that they'd get a percentage of the door.
"However, I didn't feel it was going to be quite as big as they thought, so I agreed and they ended up going away with less that the original agreed fee!
"Once you get into the realms of dealing with PA companies and agents, all this 'power to the people' stuff - it doesn't really apply behind the scenes."