Over time a growing body of cultural artefacts – documentaries, biographies,
compilations – have emerged seeking to tell the ‘truth’ about The Clash. In
these competing renditions of the band, one of the voices that has often
been drowned out is that of the fans. Drawing on the author’s own experience
of running away from home to follow The Clash on tour, this chapter seeks to
capture what the band meant to those who witnessed their legendary live
performances, typically without the privilege of backstage access. This
autobiographical ‘true fiction’ offers a perspective that underlines one of
the most important affirmations of the group’s much-disputed ‘authenticity’.
While the members of The Clash were often unforgiving to one another, they
were unremittingly generous to their travelling fans. The chapter also
suggests that the focus on metropolitan London in many accounts overlooks
the importance of suburban centres in nurturing the early punk scene. A case
in point is that of High Wycome, a setting neglected in the standard
accounts of the period, but which in fact deserves its own place in the
story of the subculture.