Search This Blog


Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Clash and the things retired rock stars really miss

There's a box set of remastered Clash material coming out soon. Yesterday I went to the BBC in Maida Vale for a recording of an interview show with Mick Jones, Topper Headon and Paul Simonon, talking to Cerys Matthews. It's being broadcast in early October.

They were very good. When musicians get to this age they've usually had a near-death experience which has knocked some of the pomposity out of them. Jones was particularly ready to laugh at himself. Couldn't stop, in fact.

Two hundred fans from all over the country, most of them I would guess fifteen years younger than the band, had come up in the ballot and taken the day off work to come. They were told not to take pictures. They complied. Nobody called out. When they had questions they waited until the microphone reached them. It was the least punk rock experience you can imagine.

Topper said something I've never heard a musician say before.  He said they'd been staying in a hotel all week, doing media. He'd loved it. After what he called his "descent" he thought he'd never do that again. Just being with the band. Calling room service. Joshing around. Showing off. Re-entering the extended adolescence of a business class musician in work mode. He was boyishly excited. He's fifty-eight.

After it was over I went out into the street and there, parked down the middle of Adelaide Road, their drivers waiting, were three highly-polished black Mercs and one highly-polished black people carrier.

It must be very easy to get used to that kind of thing. It must be awfully hard to leave it behind.