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Joe Stevens: Rare shot of Joe Strummer entering his punk rock future on the night of the Sex Pistols’ audience fracas

//Joe Strummer, then frontman of the 101'ers, with bassist Dan Kelleher onstage at The Nashville Rooms, west London, April 23, 1976. Photo: Joe Stevens//

These photographs are among images to be featured in Clash Tales, Joe Stevens’ narrated audio-visual event about his experiences with The Clash at Sonny’s Tavern in Dover, New Hampshire, next week.

//The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Electric Ladyland, August 1978. Photo: Joe Stevens//

Stevens took the photo of Joe Strummer and Dan Kelleher of the 101’ers on April 23, 1976, the second time in a matter of weeks that the pub rockers had been supported by the recently formed Sex Pistols at west London venue The Nashville Rooms.

The first occasion, on April 3, brought home to Strummer the fact that the Sex Pistols were inaugurating a new phase not just in popular music but also his life. “They were like a million years ahead,” he later told his biographer Chris Salewicz. “I realised immediately we were going nowhere; the rest of my group hated them.”

Stevens, an NME regular who lived close to the Nashville in Fulham and was friendly with Malcolm McLaren and the Pistols, dropped into the pub on April 23 with the specific intention of shooting the group, and got more than he bargained for. “To warm up my cameras I took a few shots of Joe and his band finishing up their 
set, then headed to the bar,” says Stevens.

“As the Pistols took the stage, Strummer – who I knew vaguely – and I vied for the bartender’s attention and, lagers in hand, we had our first chat. Rotten and company were on good form.”

It was at this point that the much-chronicled altercation between Vivienne Westwood and an individual in the front row sparked a fracas which involved members of the Sex Pistols and Malcolm McLaren tussling with audience members. “I shot two rolls of Tri-X (high speed film) in a minute,” says Stevens, who was with fellow American photographer Kate Simon that night. Here is her take on the rumble:

//Johnny Rotten, Paul Cook and Steve Jones play on as their manager Malcolm McLaren fights with an audience member, April 23, 1976. Photo: Kate Simon//

“Strummer was stunned and set about retiring the 101′ers and began forming The  Clash soon after, 
because, as he said, ‘I’ve seen the future and it ain’t another British blues band’,” says Stevens.

Over the next few years Stevens was on hand to shoot The Clash in a variety of locations, including Paris, Jersey City and Montego  Bay, and will be incorporating a great variety of images in Clash Tales, which takes place at Sonny’s on October 12. Find out more here.

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Author: / Published: Sep 30th, 2013 / Category: Bars, Malcolm McLaren, Music press, Photography, Punk / Comments: 4

4 Responses to “Joe Stevens: Rare shot of Joe Strummer entering his punk rock future on the night of the Sex Pistols’ audience fracas”


  1. Steve
    on Oct 1st, 2013
    @ 5:50 pm

    Great shots but surely the Pistols were supporting the 101ers, rather than the other way round!


  2. Paul Gorman
    on Oct 1st, 2013
    @ 5:56 pm

    Was what I wrote Steve: ” …the second time in a matter of weeks that the pub rockers had been supported by the recently formed Sex Pistols…”


  3. Steve
    on Oct 1st, 2013
    @ 6:07 pm

    Actually I missed that bit entirely!

    But what prompted my comment was this:

    “Stevens, an NME regular who lived close to the Nashville in Fulham and was friendly with Malcolm McLaren and the Pistols, dropped into the pub on April 23 with the specific intention of shooting the group, and got more than he bargained for. “To warm up my cameras I took a few shots of Joe and his band finishing up their 
set, then headed to the bar,” says Stevens.”

    which makes it sound as if that night the 101ers played *before* the Pistols, despite headlining. (Maybe I’m just being dim again!)


  4. Paul Gorman
    on Oct 2nd, 2013
    @ 8:45 am

    Nope that was me being dim/not noticing that time. Stand corrected but will leave text as is; don’t want to get in the way of a good story!

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