16 Tons Tour
Supported by Lee Dorsey & Mikey Dread

page updated - July 2020
updated August 2022 -added reviews photos

No known audio or video

If you know of any recording, please email blackmarketclash

Jenny Lens, photographer

Jenny Lens: I was onstage for the March, 1980 Civic show, my color slides are beautiful. Neighbors stole the black and white from the lab before I ever saw them. I flew to England and shot either 6 or 8 shows there in June/July 1980. I didn’t label many of my slides and negs in my archive, so it’s hard to know exactly which shows I shot where, with some exceptions. I need to update my site. And one day I’d love to scan all my negs to see the pix — who knows, I may have some Palladium shots, and try to organize the thousands of slides. I continually find images that are a total surprise to me!

Joe was quoted in Rolling Stone: “some girl” backstage at the Santa Monica Civic had a Polaroid, so he went out and bought one. That’s me, after shooting and hanging with some of their crew, they didn’t know me. Cos as I said, I was too shy and too much in awe to talk to them. Then I got thrown out of the SMC backstage cos I was so broke and strangers wanted Polaroids. I asked for $1 to cover my cost and was thrown out. The dude who threw me out is the very same dude who picked me up the first night I was in England. I thought that was too funny, but that’s rock ‘n’ roll.

The out of focus shot was taken by a drunk Darby Crash of the Germs, with various members of X )Exene and drummer DJ and Go-Go’s original bassist Margo and manager Ginger behind the bar and Claude Kick Boy in the front right, so infamous at the first LA Clash show, writer for Slash and working for Virgin in London by spring 1980. Taken at the flat of the girl X sings about in “Los Angeles.” That girl, Farrah, hated me — I was the main Jew she hassled in the song, and named me Jenny Lens.




Johnny Green, The Clash at Santa Monica

9th February 1979

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, see photo, a concrete barn by the ocean according to Johnny Green, had sold out all 3000 tickets (seating removed in the main area). The Clash famously snubbed Epic executives after the gig to the despair of Caroline Coon, the then manager.

Help for the cause did come from the influential Robert Hilburn reviewing the gig in the LA Times; “For sheer energy The Clash’s local debut… was one of the most exhilarating rock shows in years” but then went on to qualify this by “but rock’s not built on energy alone and The Clash’s failure to touch on a wider range of emotions, leaves it short at this point of across the board impact”

He described how fans near the front of the stage went wild and accurately noted “Joe Strummer, the band’s strongest visual lure on stage, spits out the lyrics with such alarming intensity that a life insurance salesman would think twice about writing him a policy. After he collapsed after one song it didn’t look solely theatrical”.

The band did not think the gig went well and
Sylvia Simmonds Tour Notes for Sounds thought them good not great as at the San Francisco benefit.

Wikipedia: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is a multi-purpose convention center at 1855 Main Street in Santa Monica, California, owned by the City of Santa Monica. It was built in 1958 and designed by Welton Becket[2] and as a concert venue, it has a seating capacity of 3,000.

https://santamonicacivic.org: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was opened in 1958 during the summer season. It took the second position in Los Angeles Area.

Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

Review - March 1980, Los Angeles

By Sylvie Simmons [SOUNDS??]

Clash/Lee Dorsey/Mikey Dread

FIRST CAME hard-working Mikey Dread. Jamaican DJ crooning over dub tapes, dodging missles. He was booed. Then ceme Lee Dorsey, grinning, working in a coal mine. He was tolerated. And the industrial-horizon backdrop fell, Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" bellowed out the speakers and Clash strode on. Complete delirium. A working Clash hero is something to be.

Dread's set, bascially echo vocals over invisible reggae backing, was interesting, yet sounded too vacant in a hall still in the process of being filled at this festival setting (as in standing, arms pinned to sides). Lee Doney was the other extreme, smiling, jolly, chirpy good-time rhythms (the backing band, Score, deserve a special mention for extreme bounciness in the face of apathy) going through the roster of great nostalgia songs on a PA that sounded like a transistor radio, just right. "Holy Cow", "Working In a Coal Mine", "Ride Your Pony" (with camp gun-shot accompaniment by the dimunitive vocalist himself) were some of the numbers featured, and he was brought back for an encore by the efforts of the DJ rather than crowd reaction, though he certainly deserved one. (The old timers seem to be making a comeback lately, what with Roy Orbison opening for the Eagles down the road. They should be given headlining spots of their own.)

But the crowd had come to see Clash. Obvious? Not really. At their last LA gig, the Hollywood Palladium last year, it seemed like most of the audience had come to see themselves up on the stage, a lot more intent on drawing attention to themselves than to let the Clash get on with their job. The broadening out of the band's music on "London Calling" has brought the inevitable broadening of the audience, fewer jackboots and spiked hairdos, fewer fistfights, even a bit of teenybop appreciation for Mick from the young girls at the side, a smattering of imaginary guitar soloists and just the Clash on the stage (except for regular appearances by keyboardist Mickey Gallagher and a Mikey Dread-plays-Sinatra-to-Clash's-rude-boys bit at the end).

This was the nearest to mainstream that I've ever seen the band, but they make a bloody good mainstream, bloody good whatever, rock and roll band. The band have left the front line, but there's still the odd explosive attacks -- machine gun drums, shrapnel guitars, knife-edged vocals of the old songs, brought back to life more powerfully, more heroically than even before like some old war film that uses clever lighting, beefed-up sound, poses, pauses and expectations to make it stand out so unforgetably in your mind.

The band's new position has at least given them the luxury of getting the sound right and the lighting right and the overall presentation just so, which made tonight's show one of their best here on certain levels, though a bit hollow, a bit like a powerful memory of others.

The opening was hot. "Clash City Rockers", the first of several tough, tight, anthems. Quite a few at the front joined in. Then "Brand New Cadillac". Joe Strummer discovers rockabilly and looks surprised. Mick Jones looks in the direction of the young girl by my side and she screams and waves. A bunch of "London Calling" numbers, the title track making the rest pretty redundant, a wonderful song. "White Man in Hammersmith Palais", "Police and Thieves" were the best of the rest, though "I Fought the Law" went down well. Other than a couple of older songs, the show drifted along for a couple of dozen songs, showing various Clash's I'd never seen before -- frisky, lazy, be-bopping, amusing, brooding, positively wholesome -- some of them (the hard-edged ones) preferable to my ears over the wholly reggae numbers that slowed the set down a lot.

Echoed reggae closed the set, calls brought them back, and they got Mikey Dread to trade echoes with Joe on some cosmic reagge encore. Five more, the oldies "Tommy Gun" and "White Riot" speeding things up to a great finale.

Life goes on, everything changes and other cliches: Clash as Gene Vincent meets Phil Spector and argues the merits of reggae over Stax I never thought I'd see. But they did it well, got them dancing, and I guess a lot of people think a smile on your face beats a foot in your gut anytime, which makes this a hell of a lot more successful than the Clash's last performance in LA, as far as most of the crowd was concerned.

the two best concerts I have ever attended.

David: I was looking at your list of gigs and I wanted to add one. The Clash played two gigs at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1980,

March 3 and March 4. I attended both concerts. (My high school was across the street.) For the first concert a barricade was placed ten feet in front of the stage. Naturally, once the concert began people went over it. The next night the barricade was gone. These were the two best concerts I have ever attended.

the best "punk-rock" band we'd ever seen here in L.A.

Don Waller: Los Angeles on March 3, 1980, the Santa Monica Civic. I was there. Mickey Gallagher on keyboards. The reason I remember this was the first SM Civic show, they used a backdrop created by sewing loads of flags from all the Third World countries together.

The second time they played the Santa Monica Civic, they used a seriagraph shot of the infamous Three Mile Island towers, but treated to resemble the back cover of the first album (much like on your site) as the backdrop. Lee Dorsey was the opening act. I remember going backstage afterwards -- again thanks to Sue Sawyer -- and Mick was listening to rap on a boombox. When I offered him some super-fine Northern California sensemilla, he rolled it  up with tobacco, explaining "it's better that way."  Yeah, right ...

Hey, I wish you had a set list posted for that  particular show just like you do for the others (which is wonderful, really jogs the memory banks)  'cause I really don't remember the particulars of any of these 'cause they were just astonishing from top to bottom. The Clash were infinitely the best "punk-rock" band we'd ever seen here in L.A. (Don't get me started ....)  And, verily, the slogan still rings true: "the only band that matters."

I was there


Bill Lindsey - Great photo … I was at this awesome show!

David Folkart - I was there. Trapped in the orchestra pit. Very sweaty.

Lydia Wilson - I saw them that same tour, in San Francisco at the Civic! Pearl Harbor & The Explosions opened

Debra Louise - I was fortunate to have seen that show. Brilliant. 

Ed LaTourette - The Only Band That Matters. I don't think this date is right, though; we saw them at the Capitol Theater in NJ on March 8, 1980, and that was their second show in the US. 

Jae Johnson - Ed I went the 9th in Boston. The Capital documented all there shows it’s amazing.

Ed LaTourette - Jae Johnson Still the greatest show I have ever attended. And to be honest, it ain't close, and I have been to some really great shows over the years...

Jae Johnson - Ed - same for me the next night unbelievable power! Fuckin loud too the keyboards were really in the mix, so great The Boston show is bootleg as well.

Desiree C. Crooks - I WAS THERE!!! Saw them at Keezar Stadium in SF around this time too.

Tony Morrison - That night is an unforgettable musical memory! I think it was the London Calling tour and I believe they opened with that song and back in those days they used to do this thing that they called pogoing and so many people were doing it it caused the Santa Monica Civic floor to bounce up and down so even if you were standing Motionless you were popping up and down uncontrollably. I thought there was going to be a structural failure. Gangs of young punks would form human arrowheads and go running through the crowd knocking people on their keisters. Kind of like a Rugby scrum but one-sided. So you had to kind of watch your back. It was just a great night at a great venue which holds so many dear memories for my ears! I'm going to have to take a nap now because all that reminiscing makes an old guy tired.

Aileen Pasquel - I was there!! Saw them earlier at The Roxy on Sunset. Great shows!!!

Bradley Dickinson - Loudest show I’d ever seen. 

Pike Bishop - Saw them a week later in Detroit.

Mike Head - Was there!!!!!!!

The Clash Official  |  Facebook

The 16 Tons Tour in Santa Monica 1980

Slash Magazine

April 1980

2 page review

Billboard Magazine

15 March 1980


Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library

Did you go? What do you remember?

Info, articles, reviews, comments or photos welcome.
email blackmarketclash

No known audio or video
If you know of any recording, email blackmarketclash

There are several sights that provide setlists but most mirror www.blackmarketclash.co.uk. They are worth checking.

from Setlist FM (cannot be relied on)

from Songkick (cannot be relied on)
... both have lists of people who say they went

& from the newer Concert Database and also Concert Archives

Also useful: Ultimate Music database, All Music, Clash books at DISCOGS

Articles, check 'Rocks Back Pages'

16 Tons US Tour


A collection of
- Tour previews
- Tour posters
- Interviews
- Features
- Articles
- Tour information

A collection of articles, interviews, reviews, posters, tour dates covering the period the 16 Tons tour of the US, March 1980.


Video and audio footage from the tour including radio interviews.


Return of the Last Gang in Town,
Marcus Gray


Passion is a Fashion,
Pat Gilbert


Redemption Song,
Chris Salewicz


Joe Strummer and the legend of The Clash
Kris Needs


The Clash (official)
by The Clash (Author), Mal Peachey


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