A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR: JULIAN YEWDALL
Could you please let your readers in the U.S. know that this book is a limited edition of only 1,000 copies, and at present it is very unlikely there will be a second edition.
The cheapest way to obtain a copy is through Amazon.co.uk. The current selling price is £25 + £6.98 postage to the U.S.A. (this translates as $53.29 U.S.) the normal cost of postage to America is currently in excess of £17.00 so this is a very good price.
Unfortunately the postal rates here have just increased yet again. and due to some sharp practices by wholesale suppliers in the U.K. the book price is only likely to increase in the future, so anyone waiting for the price to come down will have a very long wait. It is also unlikely there will ever be a U.S. edition.
Sadly the cut-throat world of the publishing industry is making it harder and harder to make a fair profit and sell at a reasonable price, so don't be surprised to see it rising to £35 - £40 per copy in the near future!
...AND NOW: PART TWO OF OUR INTERVIEW
CHAIRMAN RALPH (CR): As you know, there was a fair amount of bitterness when Joe joined the Clash, and shed his past overnight – suddenly, the man who'd been playing Chuck Berry songs was sporting a jacket that read, “CHUCK BERRY IS DEAD.”
How did you feel about him leaving? How did your own artistic journey evolve after your 101'ers experiences?
JULIAN YEWDALL (JY): Joe's departure to join the Clash came around the same time as the street eviction plans became known, so suddenly everything was thrown into question. The priority was to find somewhere else to live, fast, something we had all done together several times before, but the big difference now was their was there was no unifying goal, and in the harsh reality of the days that followed it felt like the end of something very special.
The whole street took on the feeling of a sinking ship as people started to move out. I remember meeting Sid Vicious, and Paul Simonon and Keith Levene, who were taking over rooms in the house as others vacated them,
I was preoccupied with opening up a new squat in Oakington Road W9, Joe was keeping a low profile, he wanted to avoid people he knew would question his decision to quit The 101'ers.
I could understand why Joe had joined the Clash, he knew that Punk was going to be the next big thing, and was about to over-write everything he had been doing with The 101'ers, and if he was not a part of it then it would be a huge opportunity missed. What was harder to understand were the stories that he had signed up to a manager, was being told what to wear and write and seemed to to be giving away his independence in the process, according to 101'ers drummer, [Richard] Dudanski who was invited to join the fledgling Clash, Rhodes was insistent on erasing all aspects of Strummer's "supposedly dubious past", including any acknowledgement of The 101'ers, Dudanski declined the job offer.
I decided to keep my distance during those very early days of the Clash, I had my own issues to deal with at that time, plus by now photographers were swarming all over this new up and coming band, and so it wasn't till a couple of months later backstage at the RCA gig that I started to photograph them for the first time.
By now I'd gone to study photography, film and television at London College of Printing and eventually went on to work as a freelance film editor for television documentaries, and then later as a news photographer in the Gulf State of Bahrain.
But I still followed what Joe and the Clash were up to, and continued to photograph him from time to time over the years whenever possible.
CR: Your photos capture the Clash at a crucial part of their development: was Bernie Rhodes really “the man with the plan,” as some writers suggest, or did they have a good grasp of what they wanted to do from the beginning? When did they become “The Clash,” in capital letters, as it were?
JY: I think Bernie Rhodes was definitely a man with a plan, but I've no idea what that was? Bernie was trying to 'create' a band along the same lines as his associate Malcolm McLaren, this involved ideas from the Situationist movement promoting absurdist and provocative actions to enact social change, and attract publicity, something it succeeded in doing very well. But, ultimately it led to all kinds of problems within the band, which has been well documented elsewhere, I think the relationship between Joe and Bernie was very complex and went right to roots of just whose band it was? clearly though, Joe's input was absolutely crucial to making it happen.
All I know is that when I first saw them perform live they came very much ' fully formed ', the sound, the look, the words, the way they stood on stage, all this had come together in just a few months and was truly impressive, plus, they were just fantastic to photograph.
CR: How did Joe eventually come to see his 101'ers past, especially as the Clash began to embrace many of the roots rock styles that distinguished his former band?
JY: Just four months before his death, Joe was discussing the re-release of ELGIN AVENUE BREAKDOWN (REVISITED) with Richard Dudanski, it would feature newly unearthed live tracks that showcased Strummer's raw R&B beginnings and it indicates just how important those early experiences still were to him. He was always looking at other styles of music, taking ideas and re-working them into something new, you can see it in the history of the Clash, the music he wrote for film, and in the Latinos and Mescaleros.
CR: I love the images of the Slits perched on the rooftop of the Elgin squat – talk about one image saying a thousand words! What qualities made them a distinctive band of the era – other than being an all-female band, which most writers focus on, to the exclusion of everything else?
JY: The Slits were true originals, they embraced punk with an enthusiasm you could feel, and the fact that they were an all-girl band meant they came up with lyrics and music that was refreshingly different to what the male bands were doing. I was lucky enough to photograph them right from the start when they were at their most inventive, crazy and risk taking. On stage their early performances were high energy, verging on the edge of control, and they looked just great on stage.
CR: Of course, the whole “dole queue rock” mythology is an integral part of the Clash's story, as well. What's the biggest misperception that writers tend to have about that aspect of the band?
JY: One misperception is that squatting and living on the dole was just a comfortable West London 'scene', when in fact it was often a hard and stressful lifestyle. Insecure by its very nature, the future truly was 'unwritten' in those days, living in damp sometimes dangerous buildings, with primitive cooking facilities, no hot water, no bathroom, one toilet shared by ten or twelve people, bedbug and flea infestations, blocked drains, harassment by police and authorities, all this took its toll and there were casualties of all kinds. Add to this mix some drugs, alcohol, thievery, music, bulldozers and barricades and it sometimes had the feel of living in a disaster zone !
CR: As the cliché goes, history always repeats itself. Nearly 40 years after punk's celebrated Year Zero, the most noxious elements – from overblown pop, to repressive legislation, and the yawning chasm between rich and poor – are, if anything, worse than the first time around. Looking back – what did punk achieve?
JY: When punk first arrived here in the U.K. it articulated an already existing deep seated frustration with what young people were being offered, as entertainment, as work and as a future, and for a brief period appeared to really threaten the existing system, with its anarchic rejection of accepted practices, and do-it-yourself accessibility, it was not unrelated with what was already happening here in more localised ways with squatting, and why for some of us it didn't appear to be anything that new.
McLaren and Westwood with The Sex Pistols, and Rhodes with the Clash, and others I'm sure, cleverly put form to these ideas and led the media and record companies round in circles for a while, which was very funny and had the added bonus of creating a massive amount of publicity and sizeable amounts of money. But of course it wasn't long before it became appropriated and re-packaged into yet just another product, but that isn't to say punk didn't achieve anything, it gave millions of young people a means with which to question and challenge what was going on, and most importantly in a form that was possible, and the d-i-y spirit that punk came to symbolise lives on as strong as ever and continues to inspire to this day.
CR: Musically, of course, we seem to have circled back to a handful of guys getting together in a room, deciding what the whole country will get to hear – what's the most important thing that today's crop can learn from the 101'ers, or the Clash?
JY: Self-belief can take you a long way, there are so many great artists and musicians who were turned away by the powers that be, only to later succeed spectacularly on their own terms.
The big difference now is we're living in a digital world, which has brought with it huge creative opportunities at the same time as wiping out skills that have existed for centuries,and the difficulty now is how to be seen and heard in this ocean of choice and possibilities ? That's something the younger generations will figure out, but I think if you are authentic and use real life as your source of inspiration, and have a plan that puts you in control, then expect set-backs and failures, build them into your long term project, they're part of it, and if things start going right, keep your feet on the ground and your wits about you, and never sign a contract when first presented, take it away and read it again and again until you really understand, and then, sign it ? maybe ?
CR: And, lastly, as always – the million-dollar question: What's next for you?
JY: Putting together 'A Permanent Record' was the final part in a very long term project, and now it's complete I'm looking forward to doing some travelling again, I always feel inspired by journeys taken for adventure. I plan to do another photographic book, and I'm also returning to the idea of making a film, so lots to do.
Clash Book Dispatches
To find older entries, simply click the "Archive" button, and follow the links from there. Also, please note: in light of the Clash II book announcement (see "Communiques"), the author reserves the option to hold back entries for different projects.