Never Mind the Beatles: America Met the Clash 35 Years Ago This Week


Next week I'll be writing about the 50th anniversary of the so-called British Invasion and the Beatles' epochal debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.

(I'll also be debunking some of the myths that quickly grew up around that event...)

Meanwhile, this week marks the 35th anniversary of the Clash's first American tour, to support their Give 'Em Enough Rope LP.

Sure, their debut U.S. single -- a thundering cover of the Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought The Law" -- was climbing up the American charts.

But the Sex Pistols' only close encounter with the U.S. the year before had proven fatal. 

Fans and detractors alike wondered if Big Bad America would also crush the Pistols' only still-standing rivals, especially since the Clash had dubbed their first visit the "Pearl Harbor Tour," and launched almost every U.S. gig with the bitchy anthem "I'm So Bored With the U.S.A" -- to determine "if the crowd had a sense of humor."

Appropriately enough considering the tune had started out as a song about love -- not a love song, per se, as those were frowned upon -- that gesture rather resembled a little boy's expression of affection for his female crush: pulling her pigtails.

Because for all their faddish political bombast, the Clash's frontmen had loved America from afar for years.