Secret Gig in Los Angeles.

last updated 24 June 2004
last updated 7 July 2008 - punters view
updated 12 Feb 2012 -added ticket

Audio 1

poor - Sound 1.5 - time 1hr 24mins - unknown generation - tracks 24

Intro / Time is Tight

Sound quality is poor

It’s a major shame that there is not a good recording of this unique and inspired gig, but conversely from the half glass full viewpoint, it’s great that any recording circulates! Although several generations at least off the master, the recording’s main problems stem from the master itself; the sound is blown out and bass distorted, lacking range and detail.

But it is far from awful with reasonable clarity with the instrumentation coming through. Vocals unfortunately are too distant and unclear to decipher many of Joe’s adlibbed lyrics. There are numerous edits but which appear to lose little of the performance.

A secret gig arranged after the ABC TV performance

A secret gig arranged after the ABC TV performance, only announced on the radio earlier the same night. It would be the smallest concert ever played by The Clash in the USA and the resulting intimacy produced a fascinating and unique performance, with the usual set list thrown out the window, and Joe interacting with the audience with extended adlibs and introductions.

Without either Mickey Gallagher or Mikey Dread, The Clash begin with an instrumental Time Is Tight (it’s only ever live performance), debut Somebody Got Murdered and play a total of 23 songs but leave out Clash concert ever present’s like Complete Control, Garageland, Train In Vain, Clash City Rockers and I Fought The Law.

Mark Cooper was also there for Sounds

Mark Cooper was also there, filing a review for Sounds, (see link) he puts the audience packed into the small nightclub at 700, and said they comprised a few fans, a few punk diehards and the rest he said were poseurs; “butterflies, following the action wherever the action might be”. He strangely was not so impressed by the gig, saying the band were coasting and that it only really caught fire in the encores. His view certainly contradicts the aural evidence of the circulating recording, which though poor is good enough to confirm a unique and inspired performance.


famous Hollywood nightclub, the Roxy

The famous Hollywood nightclub, the Roxy, which is still located in the heart of the Sunset Strip, has a 500 capacity and was certainly the smallest venue played outside the UK. Tickets for this one-off gig were only $5!

“No input no output”

Booker T & The MG’s instrumental, Time Is Tight begins the gig to the no doubt amazement of the audience. The Clash had recorded their version in March 78 and played it at various soundchecks but this would be its only live performance. Despite the limitations of the recording all the instrumentation can be heard. The band are out to enjoy themselves tonight, re-vitalised again having not played a full gig for 6 weeks, ignoring the usual set list and pacing and just playing songs as they fancy.

The audience is noisy and lively throughout, someone screams “You motherfucking ..” then the energy levels hit their first peak with Capital Radio (adlibs from Joe but unclear) and Koka Kola which segues into Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad (complete with more adlibs). Joe’s clearly enjoying himself and is in great adlib/improv form.

White Man in Hammersmith Palais next with an extended ending but again Joe’s words are largely unclear finishing with a long echoed scream. “From 1959” intros Brand New Cadillac then Paul sings Guns Of Brixton, without the usual 16 Tons “dub wise” extended ending.

Jail Guitar Doors is back complete with a new verse sung by an impassioned Joe. Next it’s the return of 48 Hours not played live since the White Riot Tour in May 1977. Next song is the live debut of Somebody Got Murdered with a similar arrangement and lyrics as its Sandinista version.

Jimmy Jazz next is remarkable with Joe improvising lyrics about the legendary Lenny Bruce, clearly a subject he’d been reading up on in accord with his “No input no output” mantra. Joe’s interest in the rebel comedian Lenny Bruce is not surprising; he was hounded by the establishment for his ‘obscene’ act and drug taking. Lenny Bruce’s comedy challenged the hypocrisies of the time, overstepping the bounds of what was considered respectable and was imprisoned for obscenity in 1961, found guilty of illegal possession of drugs in 1963, and died 3 years later. Joe may well have seen the fine film about Bruce, “Lenny” released in 1976.

Joe’s adlibs in the song are cut off by an edit early on, but then the Jimmy Jazz character “just saw Lenny Bruce walking down the street”. The song then almost stops dropping down to drum and bass before Joe’s guitar scratches out a rhythm and he improvises manically like Bruce’s act “Police came in for Lenny Bruce, saying fuck me mother.. Catholics, don’t like Jews”, various ‘Lenny’ expletives and then “tickets to playboy and the centrefold”. What a shame that this recording is too poor to really document this remarkable performance.

“Yeah turn the lights off now, this song was written in the Brill building 1650 Broadway!” Presumably a joke as the song’s origins that follows, Police & Thieves couldn’t be further removed from the Tin Pan Alley production line of the Brill Building. It has yet another variant on the Ray Charles, Hit The Road Jack intro, with the song starting with the usual Police & Thieves intro and then Joe singing over the start of the song the “Hit The Road Jack, don’t you come back no more, no more” lines. Joe adds his stream of consciousness lines to mid/end sections including references to dreadlocks, Radio Ethiopia and Heathrow airport.

Joe says “now for some singing!”, but before Stay Free Mick berates some in the audience, “Stop gobbing!”. There is then an edit, returning just as Joe gives us the first lines (only sadly) of the Clash lyrical holy grail, just what does he say at the beginning of the recorded version of Clampdown. It goes “The kingdom was ransacked, when the choppers descend”. Clampdown gets its usual extended ending with Joe improvising new lines, largely indecipherable.

Before Bankrobber Joe refers to their problems with CBS in getting the “Bowie backwards” song released, “We can’t get this one released, so you don’t have to dig it or anything so just give it a whirl like we’re down the laundrette, entitled my Daddy was a grave robber! It’s simpler and shorter and arguably more effective without Mikey Dread’s usual contribution.

Joe then has a lengthy rap before Safe European Home about the forthcoming election, “Who’s not ashamed of who they’re going to vote for? Will anybody here care to admit who they’re going to vote for? Everybody close your eyes, I’ll keep mine open. Who’s voting for Ronald Reagan? Loud boos OK who’s voting for George Bush? ..On my left hand Peanuts (Carter) and on my right hand Mr Chappaquiddick (Kennedy) some claps/boos. I can see it’s going to be a very close race anyway”

English Civil War, is a harder performance without Mickey’s keyboard fills then uniquely the set ends with Armagideon Time, complete with adlibs a plenty from Joe. The audience clap and shout for more and the stage curtain apparently got torn down.

The band return for two angry, fired up encores of I'm So Bored with the USA Tommy Gun and London Calling, followed after the continuing screams for more by London’s Burning and Janie Jones.

We raced over to the Roxy and got in a secret line on the side of the building.

Mark Zalin was lucky enough to be at the gig and many thanks to him for this account:

"The Clash came to town to do the Fridays Tv Show. We were driving around town and the Kroq Dj came on at about 11pm and said “Clash at the Roxy at midnight!” We raced over to the Roxy and got in a secret line on the side of the building.You must understand how wild the Sunset Strip is and was especially after midnight!

We got in and all the tables and chairs had been removed.The club was tiny and used as a showcase for up and coming or secret gigs (Springsteen etc.Genesis took up residence in ‘72 etc) so, a club that sat about 250 people at little tables was now a sardine can of close to 1000 Clash fans.

These were usually rough affairs down front and I had just broken my collarbone and was wearing a figure 8 brace to hold me in place. Regardless, we pushed our way to the front.

The Clash came on well after midnight, wearing their primary colors (Joe in bright red, Mick, looking frail in gangster black and white with that huge white guitar. The crowd loved him and was clearly rooting for him to do well) And they opened with Time Is Tight.The crowd was amazed at no vocals.

That soon changed as the Clash launched into a furious set. Speaking of launching, the crowd cheered every time joe would hurl his guitar across the stage to a roadie who would catch it by the neck. When he did play rythm, it was with a fury, like a veg-o-matic! (It slices ! It dices! It chops! It grates!).

Joe kept leaning into the crowd pretending to smoke and asking who had something for him? Santa Barbara is arguably the ganja producing capital of California, at least until Reagan was elected and took up residence there. ( I still remember the helicopters combing the hills of Santa Barbara right after his election. The local economy took a severe hit!!)

My friend the grower handed some to Joe who proceeded to have a great time. Must have been wet as we and The Clash were sweat soaked from the crowd and the intensity. A couple of times during the set, the crowd looked like a field of grain as it was swayed by by the pushing and shoving. It was so packed that many people had their arms pinned at their sides throughout the show and were at the mercy of the crowd. Being young and very fit, despite the broken collarbone, i had a great time, though there were scary moments and if there was a fire marshall in sight, they would have closed theR oxy forever! .

After a blistering set, The Clash left to a thunderous ovation. Back in the day, there was a beautiful velvet curtain at the Roxy that separated the stage from the crowd. They brought the curtain down and the rabid crowd ripped it to shreds. Tiny little pieces. The clash returned for their encore laughing and sent us back into the night. What a night. "

"I DJ'd that show"

Saw 'em play the Roxy Theatre in '80. Former Back Door Man fanzine founder Phast Phreddie Patterson and I (also a founder of the 'zine)  were the unpaid DJs (Sue Sawyer, who was their publicist for Epic Records in the States, was a good pal and got us into the show in this manner), using only one turntable 'cause when we got there, we discovered that's all the Roxy had, so we did a four-handed operation w/me pulling and slapping down the 45s while PP raised and lowered the tone arm -- and played all the original versions of the Clash's covers as well as Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons." (smartassess that we were).

Joe told us backstage that he dug our set, which included other tuneage besides the aforementioned covers. I believe Phast played I Can't Turn You Loose right before the Clash took the stage and fired into Time Is Tight, which as you know has the same bassline. Completely coincidental, of course, but it worked like a dream ...

Don Waller

one of my all time favourites

"Love the info you got for this still goes down as one of my all time favourites. My friend Debbie Langslow and I were supposed to see The Selecter down at the Whiskey, but they cancelled and the lot of 'em ended up at the Roxy for the Clash. Trying to remember just how I found out about might have even been Phast Phreddie who'd told me, as we were friends and hung out with the same people.

I remember Deb and I being up there at the very front...the pictures that you have of the gig, I was standing just below and to the right of Joe, smashed up flush against the stage. When Joe came out, he squatted down in front of us, recognising us from the Palladium and the Santa Monica Civic gigs ( after the Civic show the month before, we ended up at Mitzi Shore's house for a party afterward...loved Topper's gangster suit!) and had a brief chat, asking us how we were and all, telling us if it got too rough up there, just let the roadie ( I think it might have been Mikey Dread) standing in the far right corner know and he'd take care of us.

It WAS pretty rough going up there..some obnoxious punter was directly behind me, shreiking and trying to climb over me now and again, and about half way thru the set, Deb and I ended up sitting on the far right of the stage. Afterward, we went backstage and thanked him, shared a few beers, and got a good laugh at Mick Jones pulling a "Hitler" mustache with a comb as he saluted himself in the dressing room mirror.

PS: I think one of the most admirable things about Joe Strummer and the Clash in general is the way they treated their fans...with respect, with courtesy.... they were always willing to share a beer and have a chat , always concerned with what our opinion was.As a result, I had the chance to sit down with Joe a few times during the Clash years and to this day, I've as yet to find anyone quite as intelligent or openminded as he was. God bless ya Joe."

Best show of my life

I was fortunate enough to be at their secret Roxy gig in LA on April 27, 1980. Best show of my life...

The Roxy

“(The Roxy Theatre was) the smallest venue the Clash ever played in the States. And it was a very cool gig, they opened with “Time Is Tight”. The Roxy for years had a red velvet curtain. When it came time for the encore, the audience tore it down, and it was never replaced.”

Did you go? What do you remember?

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

The Clash: Live At The Roxy, Los Angeles
Sending for the Cavalry

Mark Cooper,

Sounds, 1979

A CLASH TREAT for their fans this, a five dollar ticket and a smaller setting than bands who've just appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone usually employ. In fact, a bonus, the Clash back in clubland in front of 700 people.

NME Clash Live at The Roxy

29 March 1980
Sylive Simmonds,


courtesy of a fan

3x Photos Ann Summa

Published with permision, copyright Ann Summa


Getty Images




Time is Tight
Capital Radio
Koka Kola
Julie's been working...
White Man in Ham Palais
Brand New Codiliac
The Guns Of Brixton
Jail Guitar Doors
48 Hours
Somebody Got Murdered
Jimmy Jazz
Hit the Road Jack
Police and Thieves
Stay Free
Safe European Home
English Civil War
Armagideon Time
I'm So Bored with the USA
Tommy Gun
London Calling
London's Burning
Janle Jones

There are several sights that provide setlists but most mirror 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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