16 Tons Tour
Supported by Mikey Dread, Lee Dorsey & the B-Girls

updated 17 July 2003
updated 7 July 2008 - added punters view
updated 30 Dec 2008 - added 3 photos
updated 12 Feb 2012 - added new photos Tony Russell
updated August 2022 added advert and articles

Audio 1

unknown gen - improved upgrade - sound 2 - 79mins - 23 tracks

Safe European Home

Sound Quality

It’s a shame that one of the best performances of the tour is served by a mediocre recording, the worst of the US tour. Different generations of the same source circulate, all missing the last two tracks Tommy Gun and White Riot.

The best tape has quite good sound and is much better than the previous copy which was poor and distorted. There is reasonable clarity, decent bass and range. It suffers from distance particularly on the vocals and from big room echo and some distortion. Throughout the tape the left channel suffers from recorder vibration (or clipping??). The best tape is still several generations off the master, which is no doubt a decent quality recording.

back in Philadelphia again, rejuvenated

The Clash were back in Philadelphia again, rejuvenated by their one night off on the US tour and inspired by an enthusiastic audience put on one of the best shows of the short tour. They celebrate Baker’s birthday during the gig and the night is unique for having Ian Dury come on as guest vocalist on Janie Jones.

They had played 2 nights previously in Los Angeles but no recordings circulate. Sylvie Simmons filed a review for Sounds(link). Mikey Dread has recently recalled in Arthur magazine the bad response he received in LA, indicative of most nights on this tour. They tried to boo him off stage and he was worried for his safety.

He told The Clash “I’m not playing tonight, cause they don’t want to see a black man out there...They wanted to eat me alive!” But Joe told him “Go get them Mikey, don’t let them tell you what to do!”. Mikey went out there and gave them a speech admonishing their behaviour and he said you could hear a pin drop! No doubt like most story’s it’s gained a little over time but it conjures up a great image!

Advert - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Fri 29 Feb1980



Tower Theatre, Philadelphia

The Tower Theatre, was another grand historic venue to host The Clash. It’s marble walls hold 3500 seats and is still in use today.

an enthusiastic, lively audience

After the 16 Tons intro Clash City Rockers suffers throughout with tape twisting problems as the levels and range fluctuate. There is an energy about all the performances tonight a combination of a rest the night before and an enthusiastic, lively audience.

Highlights include Jimmy Jazz; “Please welcome to the spotlight Mr Gluggo Gallagher, temporarily stolen from the Blockheads. We played this little theatre down in this town last year, what’s the name of that place? Crowd shout out but Joe’s hearing is Fawlty “ Waldorf Street Theatre”, “Walnut” shouts Mick and crowd! Joe continues impressed with the venue’s musical credentials “I wanted you to know that the toilet backstage has Levi Stubbs [Four Tops] signature on the wall above the pisser!”. It’s a great extended performance which takes some new musical twists and directions with lots of ad libs mostly unclear including “…boring you all with these silly stories I know you’ve been through this yourselves a thousand times, I’d just like to reveal one tiny detail..looking for Jimmy Jazz I said he was here but he went past, he gonna slit your head for £10”

Next it’s London Calling as Joe announces “to the faraway towns” with heavy dub echoing around the theatre. Mick lets out the feedback before a hard and tight performance kicks in.
Next highlight is White Man In Hammersmith Palais with an extended ending and adlibs from Joe.

Joe announces “Barry Baker is 22 year’s old today” before Protex Blue both celebrating the Clash stalwarts birthday and taking the piss at the same time.

After an impassioned I Fought the Law Joe angrily says “Play them simple or not at all” presumably a dig at Mick who responds on the next song on Spanish Bombs with a searing lead throughout as if to retaliate. Another example of the clash of approaches between Mick’s importance of the music and Joe’s emphasis on the energy/passion, sod the wrong notes approach. All of which of course contributed to the tension filled chemistry that made The Clash so great.

Rudie Can't Fail is the first of a ska double followed by Wrong Em Boyo after an edit where after the sound improves a notch. There’s a touch of the old Joe as he addresses the now enthusiastic audience “least it sounds like you’ve woken up a fuckin’ bit!” On previous tours he had berated audiences trying to get that two-way hostility going which fired his best performances but no doubt he was told that was alienating some US audiences so he was largely keeping it underwraps now. Shame.

”Stay Free” cries Joe and Paul plays a bar of Happy Birthday before Mick dramatically announces “Tonight in Philadelphia, for Baker’s birthday, Stay Free!”

Again on this tour the set hits top gear on an energised passionate Complete Control with Mick and Joe screaming out the lyrics and adlibs. Then it’s straight into a strong Clampdown also with an adlibbed ending.

Next it’s the main highlight of the recording, Janie Jones. Joe says “I’d like to bring out a special guest from England, Mr Ian Dury from the Blockheads” Mick of course had guested with Ian on Sweet Gene Vincent at Kampuchea and Aylesbury but this is the only time Ian sings on a Clash song. Ian is quiet to begin with but launches into his inimitable Plaistow Patricia voice on one verse ending it with a screamed “fill her up Jacko!” .It’s a fired up version with Joe shouting out the words bringing the set to a great climax.

An edit into a very strong Armagideon Time with Mikey and Joe adding their own vocal cries and licks. It segues into an equally strong English Civil War before Garageland kicks in.

The second encore fades out halfway through Bankrobber thus ending a mediocre recording but a memorable performance.

Silver spoons and rotten teeth, remembering joe strummer, wealthy spokesman of the oppressed


I was close enough to see his teeth, those stumpy, rotten, yellow-and-brown tombstones that signified he'd lived a HARD life. That jagged mouth spat thunderous fury against the rich and powerful. A rabid Clash fanatic, I had muscled my way up to front-and-center stage and stood the entire concert about three feet away from Joe Strummer, that honest outlaw, that wrathful prophet of the dispossessed, that man whose bad teeth sought to leave deep fang marks in the ass of global injustice.

I'd never seen anyone sweat so much. The sweat poured from his face down his neck, down his guitar strap, and onto the stage. After a few songs, he stood on a sweat puddle three feet in diameter. I feared he might even electrocute himself.

It was like being attacked by an army, mercilessly pummeled by massive sonic steel artillery. I wondered how sounds of such magnitude could come from mere guitars. It was the most powerful musical performance I've ever witnessed. No one else ever came remotely close. The Clash had stolen Thor's hammer and beat me up with it.

This was back in 1980 at the Tower Theater right outside of Philly. The Clash were on tour to promote "London Calling," an album that didn't have nearly the force of their live show. The next night, me and some friends drove over to Jersey to see The Ramones, who had visited Britain in 1976 and were subsequently plagiarized by every British punk band that followed, including The Clash.

But there was no comparison. The Clash blew them away. The Ramones were a good rock 'n' roll band. The Clash were something blinding, something frightening, a primordial fist knocking out all your teeth.

At the time, rock critics led me to understand that the reason for this was because The Clash's music was POLITICAL, whereas The Ramones sang about sniffin' shoe polish with girls. Joe Strummer was described as "a highly articulate rabble-rouser for the dispossessed," a man who was "working-class," even "proletarian." Every Clash song was an anti-rich, pro-poor rave-up about how fucked-up the wealthy are, and isn't it great we're a little garage band from garageland, and the truth is only known by guttersnipes, and wouldn't it be cool if one day pasty-white Joe Strummer woke up as a dreadlocked Jamaican musician, ‡ la Watermelon Man?

The problem, for me at least, is that Joe Strummer was born to wealth. His father was a British diplomat...a representative of the nation which colonized Africa and Asia and caused many of the Third World problems that fashionably leftist Joey-come-latelys could come along and decry...all while making millions and doing little to solve the problems. Joe spent his youth not in the Cockney London which he would later ape as part of his stage persona, but as a diplomat's son in Turkey, Egypt, Germany, and Mexico. When he returned to England, he enrolled in a private boarding school.

He learned the gentle art of slumming very well, though. He even dropped out of art school! As a London subway busker in the early 70s, he fused his birth name (John Graham Mellor) with that of American folk singer Woody Guthrie and called himself "Woody Mellor." He also spent some time squatting in flats, presumably to see how "real people" lived. In 1982, at the height of The Clash's popularity, millionaire Joe disappeared for three weeks to try "living like a bum." How cute! The pro-Marxist Clash even once tried to arrange a concert in communist East Germany, but German authorities were frightened of their "inflammatory" lyrics and denied them.

Wonderful! That stands right up there with psycho feminist author Andrea Dworkin helping to write such strict anti-pornography laws in Canada, her OWN BOOKS were seized by Canadian Customs as being obscene. The Clash, who waved a Red flag wherever they went, would have been silenced and probably jailed...or even lobotomized...in the sort of Red People's Utopia they championed from afar. Communism proposed to uplift common people but wound up killing and torturing those commoners in numbers that would have made the Nazis jealous.

Over the years following that transcendent live show in 1980, I watched The Clash devolve from an unstoppable force of nature to a cheesy arena-rock band whose horrible doodlings in 3rd World riddim were not only insulting to everyone in the 3rd World, but to anyone who was forced to endure their sloppy, embarrassingly self-indulgent three-album sets. When me and my droogies were tooling around Philly in our car and heard the insipid "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" for the first time on the radio, we laughed at how low the band had fallen. Still, we went to see them again in 1982, only to witness a heartbreakingly hollow, mannered performance sucked clean of all The Clash's prior atom-splitting energy. To compensate, they now had a fucking LIGHT SHOW with scary POLICE LIGHTS and everything. The Clash, probably because they now sucked, went on to become MTV stars and were touring with The Who. These strident anti-capitalists eventually allowed "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" to be used in a Levi's commercial.

Worst of all, there were even rumors that Joe Strummer had used some of his lucre to buy himself a spankin'-white new set of teeth.
Wealth doesn't bother me. Neither does celebrity. And I don't think it's wrong for rich people to feel BAD about the poor. But it bothers the FUCK out of me when they PRETEND they're poor. And I'm irked that Joe Strummer, who SEEMED so authentic, was just another in a long tradition of rich white kids pretending they're oppressed...and getting away with it. In the end, he was just a studio gangsta. Fool wasn't even FROM Compton.

He died of a heart attack right before Christmas, and officials were summoned to remove him from his million-dollar home. I was saddened. I'm also confused. If he was a phony, why was that show back in 1980 so powerful? I can only conclude that Joe Strummer was angry he WASN'T poor. REALLY, REALLY angry about it. Not angry enough about it to sell off his belongings and go live with poor people, but angry nonetheless.

It still doesn't explain the bad teeth, though.

Did you go? What do you remember?

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

Singer just one of the problems with Clash concert

Sunday News Journal
Wilmington, Delaware

9 March 1980

The Philadelphia Inquirer - From England, a new wave

Sun 9 Mar 1980


photo unknown

Photos from Philadelphia below courtesy of Tony Russell




Clash City Rockers
Brand New Cadillac
Safe European Home
Jimmy Jazz
London Calling
The Guns Of Brixton
Train In Vain
White Man In Ham Palais
Protex Blue
Koka Kola
I Fought the Law
Spanish Bombs
Rudie Can't Fail
Wrong 'Em Boyo
Police and Thieves
Stay Free
Complete Control
Janie Jones
Armagideon Time
English Civil War
Tommy Gun **
White Riot **

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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