I was doing a bit of delving into musics murky waters (looking for info on The Crybabies if you must know…remember them? No, just me then!) and I found myself on a site that archived Reading Festival line ups. It immediately brought back memories of my first ever festival..Reading 83. Well, one thing lead to another and I had hunted down a whole bunch of festival flyers that map out my early years of the festival experience, so i thought that I would post them here, just for posterity. They don’t make line ups like these anymore…and other such rose-tinted sentiments.Enjoy.
Bit of a pun on the title of the debut album by the massively influential reggae band Culture, itself taken from a prediction by Marcus Garvey that there would be chaos in 1977, when “two 7’s clash”. And out of the chaos that marred the summer that in London came another truly important band rose to prominence…The Clash. But this was eleven years later and although The Clash had gone, their two songwriters, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, were playing this festival.
Although the poster for the festival says that Strummer and Jones played on different days, in my mind they played next to each other on the same day, separated only by the fact that the event took place over two alternating stages. Maybe it was just the idea of them sharing a back stage area, a small reunion of sorts that has put that in my mind and it never happened. Joe Strummer up until this point had filled his post-Clash time working on soundtracks but his appearance here stands as a transitional period between that and the full blown solo album he would write the following year backed by the wonderfully named Latino Rockabilly War, Earthquake Weather. From here he would go on to form the critically acclaimed Mescaleros, but not for another decade. I never saw Strummer again, either solo or with any of his subsequent bands and like many was devastated when he passed away in 2002, but I feel fortunate to have seen the man that help define British punk and then take its legacy into a more mainstream world, at least once. R.I.P. Joe Stummer…you were an inspiration.
Big Audio Dynamite was the band that Mick Jones formed with Don Letts, Clash film-maker and one of the first DJ’s to embrace punk music at a time when it had no platform. By 1988 they were on their third album but like many I was only aware of their big hit E=MC2, their brand of punk, rock, funk, dance, hip-hop and reggae not being very much to my taste. That said having both Strummer and Jones, two of the main players of British punk playing the same gig, was just another reason why this festival was such a defining moment in my musical development.