Michael Hendrick on The Clash – “I Made Joe Strummer Avoid Drugs!”

clashWorldly Readers,
We miss Joe Strummer. Today we listened to The Clash Live At Shea Stadium and it brought back all those years to the Punk Rock days. Joe’s star still shines bright. He will always be missed by many. He was a good man.
In 1980, the start of the Reagan Era, we bundled up and went to the Sears Store at the mall and stood in line to buy our tickets. That is what you did back then. If you got there early, you got a better seat – it was that simple. We ended up with seats around the seventh row or so…good seats but we must have arrived late since we cannot remember who opened the show.
In the early days of punk, band members made a habit of spitting on the crowd while playing live and the pogoing crowds reciprocated moistly.
Like standing in line, it’s just what you did.
With this in mind and the spirit in our hearts, we set out in the cold last days of February (a crueler month than April, really)to get some drugs for the show. Two things daunted us…Reaganomics and a dry spell, translated ‘no money, no drugs’. As oft happened, we ended up at the door of Crazy Timmy. Crazy Timmy is actually the only person so crazy that we don’t have to change his name here…like Ferd. Timmy had been tossed by the Armed Forces after some schizoid incident involving a stolen tank and a German village.
His Section Eight got him plenty of pills – all the wrong kind. Psyche meds were more primitive in the seventies and eighties. They made you fat and sleepy and depressed. Today we have much-improved meds which give wack-jobs the gumption to initiate a school shooting.
Timmy dispensed a variety of pills that we never saw before. Even Timmy didn’t take them but he had to get the prescriptions filled so he could keep claiming his full GI benefits for being nutzed. So we pocketed the crappy tablets. We went there to see if we could get some pot to smoke before the show, actually, but even Timmy had no reef. He bought an ounce a month with his VA check and then cut it up into thirty bags or thirty one, for each day of the month; then he would smoke his way through them in the first week.
The pills were an afterthought because we thought he may have something abuse-ably fun.
The main thing we recall is the solid front they put up; Strummer out front, writhing around the mic-stand as he sang, Paul Simonon laying down the bass with legs spread in shooting stance, Topper Headon banging away on the skins and Mick Jones up there with Strummer, playing off him.
They launched into the London Calling Tour and they rocked the Casbah. Michael Hendrick, who drove us to the show, launched a handful of lithium, depakote and other odd dopamine blockers directly at Strummer’s head. Strummer clocked them coming from his spot at the edge of the stage. He ducked to stage left without missing a note. Hendrick volleyed a second, smaller batch of meds at Joe, who avoided them by ducking to stage right.
Yes, Dear Friends, he avoided the drugs.
We were there and saw it happen.
A great show!
God Bless Joe Strummer. We are not sure about Michael Hendrick.

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Filed under culture, essays, fiction, music, pop music, related subjects, Uncategorized

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