Monday, February 05, 2007
Every time I need to verify a concert or event date, I consult the lovingly archived and researched information on the Flipside Fanzine Memorial Site maintained by Michele Flipside. I vividly remember not only this ad from the newspapers, but also the concert....The Clash headlining over the historic, seminal singer/songwriter/beatmaker for a generation, the great Bo Diddley. Even back in 1979, the absurdity of the billing was clear - and not at all lost on the members of the Clash, I'm sure. They were probably beside themselves that they could do something for rock n roll's very Originator. It was Bo after all, who penned the song, "Pills" that the New York Dolls covered in a such a way that we can call it "punk."
And the Dolls were in no way the first white rockers to embrace the works of rock's black originators. Remember a little band called the Rolling Stones? I remember the first time I ever saw (and met) a member of the Clash, Mick Jones. He was channeling this 1966 Keith Richards look and pulling it off very very well. Did I ever mention how he was a night porter at the coolest hotel in London? The Portobello Hotel in Stanley Gardens, where I stayed often and even lived for months at a time...yeah. He had long hair, not punk. Very Keith Richards, very rock n roll. Gotta love this Mick Jones, though. And the Clash... paying respect to the music they loved... including the reggae and dance hall inflected tunes on their first few albums. That my friends is what London punks were all about - the reggae...in my old punk rock neighborhoods of Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill, it was all about the West Indians and their music and ganja. A peaceful coexistence between two disparate cultural legions...
So follow the dots...Reggae influences the British punks and rockers, the Black American R&B/rock n ROLL influences all the British rockers, punks included.
The British punks influence the Americans, too. Below, Pleasant and our Mumps pals pose a la the Bromley Contingent. Bromley is an East London neighborhood and Billy Idol, Siouxsie Sioux among others were part of this much-photographed group of punk fans who went on to form their own formidable bands, or become the poster people of punk (Soo Catwoman).
When Billy Idol came to America to promote Generation X, Pleasant and I spent just about monopolized his time here. He spent an all nighter or two at the Famous Lobotomy Apartment, and one morning, I woke to find he had been up all night in the front room listening to Bruce Springsteen and The Who.
As we bid "goodbye" to Billy Idol after his whirlwind week in Los Angeles, Pleasant and I had come to realize that he was just a regular guy - albeit one with a great sense of self and humor (I mean Billy IDOL) and the best ever punk rock hair style. Like us and all of our friends, he was a music fan and record collector type who knew the lineage of all his favorite music and at times, wore his influence on his sleeve. I'm sure he's not embarrassed to have had a hit with the Tommy James & the Shondells pop song, "Mony Mony."