‘The beautiful people are ugly too’

The Clash as my ‘true fiction’

in Working for the clampdown
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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.

Working for the clampdown

The Clash, the dawn of neoliberalism and the political promise of punk

Editor: Colin Coulter

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