El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Clash - Combat Rock at the Hollywood Palladium, June 14, 1982

A found snapshot from my collection, Five soldiers on leave at the Hollywood Palladium 1943

My ticket stub from the Palladium, June 14 1982

The Clash - Combat Rock 1982

The Clash - “The Only Band That Matters” as they were referred to by their fans, the media and eventually themselves for most of their legendary and influential career.

In June of 1982 Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon were touring in support of their platinum album Combat Rock which contained the radio hits Rock the Casbah and Should I Stay or Should I Go along with the politically fueled tune Know Your Rights . When it was announced that the boys would be playing at the world famous Hollywood Palladium that summer there could not have been any reason for me not to be there other than death itself. By this time in my life I had gone to see many punk bands at venues such as The Whiskey, the Roxy and The Music Machine but did not consider myself to be a punk, just a fan of the music. I stayed clear of the mosh pits that formed at every show and enjoyed the music, the events and the scene.

As The Clash took to the stage at The Palladium on that balmy Southern California night, the wave of young enthusiastic punks pushed me over to the left front of the stage where I found myself at arms length from Mick Jones’ combat boots, but uncomfortably close to the amp that was positioned right in front of me. The juice of the guitars, bass and drums hummed in my ear all night long but I would not have had it any other way as I was up front at a potent Clash concert. The band had a forceful opening set as I recall with fast numbers such as London Calling, Career Opportunities, White Riot and Clampdown setting the tempo for the show. By mid-show, Joe Strummer slowed it down a bit, took out an acoustic guitar, got on one knee and started to almost serenade the fueled and passionate crowd with what I recall was a ballad called Bank Robber. At this moment in almost slow motion, a punk from front center hocked out a loogie projected right a Joe. From my vantage point it looked to be about 8 inches long and twisted slowly in circles in mid flight while being backlit from one of the stage lights. The projectile landed directly on Joe’s face and dangled from his ear much like a slime scene out of the yet to be released film Ghostbusters. Joe, the consummate punk, barely missed a beat where he did nothing but laugh as he wiped it off with his hand and continued with the song. When the show ended with the punk encore of “I fought the Law”, I was loaded with adrenaline, drenched in sweat and had a horrible ringing in my left ear, a consequence which continues to this day.

I had the good fortune to see The Clash two more times; in October of 1982 at the Los Angeles Coliseum as they opened up for The Who and then again in the summer of 1983 at the US Festival in San Bernardino, but neither matched the up front raw energy of the Hollywood Palladium show. The Clash broke up soon afterwards with Mick forming Big Audio Dynamite and Joe holding on to remains of The Clash for another year, before going solo and later fronting his own band called The Mescaleros. We lost Joe Strummer suddenly in December 2002 and the world has not been the same since. I still have the ticket stub from that night which is a bit odd since I was not nearly as nostalgic back in 1982 as I am today. Perhaps I knew someday 28 years later, I would still be talking about The Only Band That Mattered.

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